Beyond Good and Evil in Wars
“Think of the Roman Empire stretching too thin and going broke around the 5th century (or the British Empire after WWII) - that is where the United States Empire is at the moment. All Empires have their end, history teaches us such things.”
I left the above statement as part of a comment, on an article I read here on Hub-pages. This was Mr. Alex’s (http://alexdrinkh2o.hubpages.com/) article about freedom fighters and terrorists, which by the time I finished reading sparked all kinds of questions in my mind. His overall opinion in the article was that not all terrorists are freedom fighters. I tend to disagree.
There are two sides to every coin. We can talk about the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, since most people are aware of these paramilitary groups. The DoD (Department of Defense) would for sure call these organizations of people terrorist groups. It is quite understandable because the DoD is undertaking military actions against these groups, thus they are seen as villains.
Yet, if we are to ask people in the north-western tribal regions of Pakistan who the terrorists are in this world, they would say the American government or perhaps the British government are the ones who support terrorism. In their minds NATO is a sponsor of terrorism. Just a few days ago in the southern region of Logar, in Afghanistan, NATO led an air-strike which killed eighteen civilians, mostly women and children who were out gathering fire-wood.
Ask the families who lost children in that incident, who the terrorists are? Who the cowards are, launching bombs from little un-manned airplanes, like life is a video-game? This is the other perspective, the other side of the coin.
General John Allen would argue that there are always casualties in wars. They have a casual name for such innocent deaths: the DoD calls them “collateral damage”. With this logic, we can say that the Americans who died in the consulate in Benghazi, Libya were also collateral damage. Those who assaulted the consulate could say that they just wanted to burn down the building – those inside were collateral damage, like the Afghan women and children who were gathering wood and were killed by NATO’s bombs.
Nonsense. We keep twisting and spinning circumstances and events in whatever way we can see that it benefits us, as individuals, or nations. I suppose we are learning well from our politicians, in terms of how we can manufacture our own interpretation of events, so that we can say that we are good, while those who we are against and/or we are trying to kill, are bad.
This garbage has been going on for what seems like forever. When the colonizing Europeans reached the continents of the Americas, they portrayed the people of the First Nations as savages, brutes who had to be civilized. So, the genocide of the Native people began but it was okay because they were evil and we (the Europeans) were the good guys.
The same thing happened during the Vietnam War. The North Vietnamese were shown as ‘the forces of anarchy’; the ‘savage’ ‘terrorists’, ‘brutal’, ‘fanatical’, ‘murderous’, ‘suicidal’, and ‘half-crazed’ (Herman, 205). Meanwhile the Americans were portrayed as the liberators, the heroes – good guys, overall.
Writing about the war in Vietnam, Sidney Hook explained in his article in the New Leader, on October 24th, 1966 that civilian casualties were: “the unfortunate accidental loss of life incurred by the efforts of American military forces to help the South Vietnamese repel the incursion of North Vietnamese civilians.” Same old boring story: the invading American army is viewed as liberators, while the people defending themselves are seen as evil madmen or terrorists.
There is no good or evil when we speak of wars. Are the Taliban doing the good by blowing civilians up almost on a daily basis? Is the American or British army the expression of goodness, when we think of how Iraqi prisoners were treated at the Abu Ghraib jail? Or when we hear how eighteen women and children were killed in an air-strike, by NATO forces in Afghanistan – is that what we, people of the western world regard as good?
There is no good, or evil in wars. We have to start thinking a little deeper, past all the media façade and the propaganda spewed by the DoD (Department of Defence). It is our duty because there is only One planet and only One people.
Here is a quote I like:
"As a Tsalagi Elder I would like to say that it makes no difference what color your skin is or what your beliefs is,it only matters as to how you treat people in this life, we are all the same, we all have the same desires and the same goals and that is to be good people and treat one another fairly and with respect, there is an old saying about war. War does not determine who is right. War merely determines who is left. We must learn to have respect for one another and for each other's beliefs."
1. Herman S. Edward, Chomski, Noam. Manufacturing Consent. Pantheon Books: New York, 1988.