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Beyond Good and Evil in Wars

Updated on April 28, 2015

“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 ( 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.


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    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank You for stopping-by and leaving a comment, Mr. Maxoxam41.

      The narrative is changing indeed, as more and more information becomes available. Gone are the days when only the "elites" knew how to read. I find now that the struggle is more in trying to balance out the flow of information, in respect to the gigantic corporations acting as propaganda machines for the well-off politicians and banksters .

      Thanks again and all the best!

    • maxoxam41 profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Just one thing. Those "terrorists" are part of the resistance against the invaders. It is time that we change the narrative of the US exceptionalism and its perversion.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Mr. Spirit Whisperer,

      good to see You stop-by, as always.

      This was a relatively easy piece to write. I have been studying history, politics and propaganda for years ... It's fun. And there is a need to balance-out the information available.

      Thank You for taking the time to read and comment.

      All the very best!

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank You for your comment, Mr. Vrbmft.

      I will look into the movie You mentioned since this is certainly a topic of interest for me. I am glad You enjoyed the read.


    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 

      8 years ago from Isle of Man

      Another great hub that serves to remove the rose coloured spectacles from worn by those who would glorify the perpetrators of atrocity justifying their barbarous actions as patriotic. There is nothing patriotic or honourable in killing innocent men women and children and calling them collateral damage as if they were part of the rubble without feeling or right to life like any other on this planet. Thank you Mr Happy.

    • vrbmft profile image

      Vernon Bradley 

      8 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      THANK YOU, well said, well written. There is an awesome but difficult to watch movie, called "Harrison's Flowers" about this very topic of good and evil in war.

      I also saw a recent stat that in California and I cannot find the reference, I think I posted it in either a hub or one of my other blogs, but over 500 world war II veterans killed themselves between the years of 2006 and 2008 (?) War leaves a lasting mark, and contrary to popular belief, there is no good war. Perhaps the only "valid" war, we, as a nation have fought, was the War of Independence! Interesting thought!

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank You for the visit Mr. Aravind.

      I like the "web of thoughts" imagery. I like both: thoughts and spiders.

      All the very best! : )

    • aravindb1982 profile image

      Aravind Balasubramanya 

      8 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      Nothing to add Mr.Happy.... Very true and powerful presentation of facts...

      What we need is not sympathy but empathy - putting ourselves into the shoes of others and seeing from their perspective.

      Thank you for writing this.... Its some good thought added to the massive 'web' of thoughts! :)

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I am happy You found the read thought provoking, Mr. Vinaya. I do think that it is helpful for people to see things from different perspectives. As one of my most favorite quotes says:

      "The truth is rarely pure and never simple." - Oscar Wilde


    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      8 years ago from Nepal

      The war is not between the wrong and right ideas. Both the warring factions are right in their own ways. However, most of us associate with the winners.

      Thanks for sharing your point of view. This hub of yours is thought provoking.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Greetings Drbj,

      Thank You for taking the time to read and comment on this article. I appreciate it.

      I agree with You that most political campaigns use negativity but just because something is a certain way, it does not in my mind mean that things cannot change. Ultimately, I think it is all up to us. We create the future we believe we can forge.

      All the best!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent summation, Mr. H., concerning terrorists and terrorism. The suggestion about eliminating negative political campaigning has merit but it will never happen. It is part of the basic human framework to denigrate, in spades, one's political opponent. And just about all political campaigns use negativity and often personal attacks to make their respective points. Sad, but true.

      Your hub is also sad but true. Voted Up.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Mr. Girishpuri,

      If my article can encourage people to ask questions then, I have done what I wished to do. I do hope I made my point clear.

      I thank You for your time and kind words.

      All the best!

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Greetings Mrs. Amy,

      thank You for taking the time to read my article and leave a comment. I appreciate it.

      Regarding the comment You wrote about: "The bickering and back-biting I see in the political arena", I must say that I am sure we can find a solution. I heard not long ago that in some countries negative advertising during political campaigns has been made illegal because of the detrimental effect they have. I need to do more research on this topic since, I just heard this detail a few days back but it may sound like a good idea ...

      I am happy You enjoyed the read.


    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 

      8 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      In this political arena of elections, your hub is quite thought provoking and many question are raised, including the killing of many people in the name of freedom, useful hub, thanks for haring.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      The final quote you leave, Mr. Happy, says it all, far better than I could. The bickering and back-biting I see in the political arena in this election season in the U.S.A. leaves no wonder there is war. When the candidates, our leaders, behave like warmongers with each other, who would expect anything else? It is despicable. I do wonder why in the world we call ourselves The "United" States. It seems the ultimate irony to me.

      Common sense, no holds barred, telling it like it is, Mr. Happy. Bravo.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Mr. Amillar,

      You explained my entire article in a few words: "anyone who wilfully uses terror is a terrorist." Fabulous! : )

      Thank You for stopping by.


      P.S. Thank You for posting the definition too, some people might need to re-read it.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Greetings Mrs. Lynda,

      I have a little problem with the statement that ""Americans are exceptional". It is a popular view, expressed by many politicians and political pundits but this statement belittles everyone else in this world. If Americans are exceptional people, with whom in comparison are they exceptional people? And who are the weaker or unexceptional people? Suddenly, we have the perception that others are less worthy or important in comparison to us ... this is a slippery line of thought which can easily end in genocide. I try to raise as much awareness as I can, in regard to what this line of thought results in. Thank You for also bringing it to light.

      "we are programmed through propaganda"- This is a main reason why my family moved to North America. The belief was that we would find true democracy here and we would not be bombarded with propaganda. Well, I see our lack of knowledge now. North America is sinking in political spins - the whole world is actually, at the moment.

      Thank You for your insightful comment, as usual. : )

      I wish You all the best!

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Hello Mr. Matt,

      thank You for the visit and taking the time to comment.

      I am happy You enjoyed the read and I think You posed a very good question: "Weren't we as Americans "Terrorists" to the British during the Revolutionary war?" - I think that was probably true. The British Empire was not happy to lose their colonies in North America (i.e. the United States & Canada).

      And yes, the title: "Terrorism Rules", I think is a little spicy ... haha!! Might sounds as a recruiting advertisement.

      Take care.


    • amillar profile image


      8 years ago from Scotland, UK

      We could say that anyone who wilfully uses terror is a terrorist.

      Here’s what the dictionary on this computer says: somebody using violence for political purposes: somebody who uses violence, especially bombing, kidnapping, and assassination, to intimidate others, often for political purposes Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    • lmmartin profile image


      8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Recently, an elderly acquaintance of mine was bemoaning the death of the American consul in Libya. "Poor America," she said. "All we do is try to help; we help and help and all we get is hated for it." Before my internal censor could activate, I looked at her in wonder and asked, "Is that what you think is going on?" Needless to say, I didn't make a new friend that day.

      Still, I was surprised at how many people I speak to who have accepted this version of world events.

      Churchill once said, "History belongs to the victor." It is those who come out on top who write the "official history" of the world and when we are taught that version early enough, we accept the underlying precepts as part of our foundation -- in other words, we are programmed through propaganda.

      Ask any Vietnam vet about what attitudes they were taught concerning the Vietnamese people during their training. They were "slopes," "gooks" and so on. Dehumanization of the enemy is considered of primary importance during military training. How else can the generals be sure the soldiers will kill?

      This seems to have slipped over into the civilian population. Now our "enemies" are dehumanized to a radical degree. Look at all the vitriol against Islam in the US, without one wit's understanding of what is really going on over there. I guess it's hard to get people who have been fed mental slop all their lives to stop and think for themselves. American history has been glorified and Disneyfied to the point of becoming little more than Olympian style myth.

      I have noticed that this country always has to have a boogeyman. When I was a child it was the Nazi threat, then the "Red" threat, followed by the "yellow peril" which was winnowed down to Japan bashing, now it is Islam (and almost everyone else who isn't "us" these days.)

      Your hub is beautifully written, but there will be many who will not understand your message, either deliberately or because they simply can't accept it. In their Orwellian world, if you repeat "Americans are exceptional" and "we're the greatest nation in the world" often enough, it becomes reality.

    • Matt M. profile image

      Matt M. 

      8 years ago from Philly, PA

      Weren't we as Americans "Terrorists" to the British during the Revolutionary war?

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Greetings Mr. Bill,

      thank You for taking the time to read and comment on this article. I had to write it because here in North America, the other side of the coin is often ignored, even though everyone preaches democracy. Inconvenient truths are often not expressed so, I gotta do what I gotta do (lol). And I'll keep doing it: speaking about the unspoken.

      I appreciate your support. Many thanks.


    • Matt M. profile image

      Matt M. 

      8 years ago from Philly, PA

      Great work. Clear. Concise. Straight to the point. Awesome message. You hit the nail on the head.

      I wrote something similar to this about how we call people who blow up peoples stuff that we want blown up "rebels" and how when people blow up our stuff they are "terrorists". (Back when Ghaddafi was being taken down.) And it was flagged and deleted. I probably shouldn't have titled it, "Terrorism Rules" but what can you do?

      Either way, you definitely made an eloquent and clear argument on a position that many know to be true, but are afraid to speak out against.

      Awesome, awesome job.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I have nothing to add. I'm tired of this country killing people in the name of freedom....what a crock of crap that is. You have said it all beautifully my friend; I'm quite certain there are many who will disagree with this, but that really just underlines you point now doesn't it.

      peace to you my friend,



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