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Soft Targets and Armaggeddon

Updated on November 5, 2012
Image credit: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo
Image credit: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

The U.S.A. lives beneath two shadows cast by the military might of Russia and the economic prowess of China. But it lives all the same, and that is the greater point. The use of force or its threat to even scores or iron out grievances serves no lasting purpose. Every country has crosses to bear, so let them be borne. But there are days when it seems, from the feel of various news reports, that the world has become a barroom brawl. It only gets hotter. Nevertheless, an understanding has to be arrived at to avert actions that might lead to terrible mistakes. The world at large consists of nations. Universalism is purely conceptual. This is it. Most countries endure prolonged tensions and protracted disputes. It is of grave concern, however, that leaders still think in the old way about striking a blow just because they can.

WWIII is just beyond the horizon. Let it stay there. Ploughshares.org claims that there are thousands of nuclear warheads, all ready to go, predominantly inside the U.S. and Russia. But North Korea's ten or so, Pakistan's one hundred or thereabouts, and France's approximately three hundred are enough to set off alarms. Already, a verbal war is being waged in the Middle East over nukes, some of which exist, and others not yet. It is no longer a regional matter; everybody deserves to voice an opinion about such a crisis. It could set off an ugly chain reaction. War might well be the answer in the otherwise amusing heads of hawks. But for the most part, no one wants it.

With good reason, too. If WWII established anything it is the precedent of waging non-nuclear war equally between conventional weapons and atrocities. Human rights cannot be addressed as an issue once wars commence. Real combat is not confined to honor on battlefields. It spills over into daily life. Every single human being is then at risk. Precision is a lie. In any futuristic, hypothetical scenario, ordinary men, women, and children, as well as the elderly, can expect horrible mistreatment. Further, the true history of WWII, despite voluminous studies, still remains obscure. As a result, the knowledge the world needs to avoid that proverbially, dreaded repetition is unavailable. The best we can do is tell each other stories, some more factual, some more embellished than others. But this predicament is not necessarily fatalistic. Stories, or myths, were all our distant ancestors had to begin with. One that lingers concerns a Kingdom of Heaven. It supplies a focus in the absence of all else.

Only consider how much war needs to be discouraged, knowing full well that fighting will break out anyways, and sometimes continue interminably despite strenuous efforts to stop it. After WWII, both North and South Korea committed many atrocities. In addition to all else, American soldiers died of pneumonia, dysentery, and malnutrition. On the other side of the equation, a North Korean museum commemorates its suffering at the hands of Americans. Declassified documents indicate that Vietnam, both North as well as South, had been much bloodier than earlier conceived, due to cover-ups. North Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh was only outdone by Cambodia's Pol Pot, whose murders amounted to over one and a half million. The mere mention of the words Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia conjures up additional images of inhuman violence. Armed forces must keep up with the Joneses, too. Overkilling without compunction is how it is done. As a result, wars cannot be sanctioned. This is especially the case in light of technological development that has long since made Zyklon B seem quaint. Granted, militaries allow citizens to sleep peacefully. If not called upon, however, they will not go away.

For a long time, Israel has yearned to bomb Iran. Is this objective really the best possible strategy? If so, perhaps such an action can be contained. Then, in the aftermath, it will all have been a struggle between two countries -- a soccer match involving differing sympathies. Up with "blank", down with "blank". But what guarantees are there? Israel is as good a route into WWIII as any. It can, maybe without half trying, resurrect the same war that began in 1914 and started again in 1939. Will this then be the ultimate outcome of the battles of 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982? In retrospect, will they eventually be perceived as ego boosters en route to Armeggeddon? This is not sound thinking. Israel's engulfing hostiles, with the exception of Anwar Sadat, have never established a reputation for the militaristic, yet provoke powerful retaliations time and again. After beating back turban-clad Muslims, the fighting will only get tougher. Has America really done a service to its ally by bolstering her military image and depicting her critics in demeaning caricatures? At present, America has by and large nudged Israel into a potential confrontation with Russia as well as European, Asian, and African nations with abiding interests in the Middle East.

Choosing peace makes more sense. On the other hand, if a more aggressive approach is needed, Iran would still not be the main-event hi-pri.


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