THE LAW OF WAR, AN OXYMORON
I am totally against any American, military personnel, diplomatic corps, tourists, business persons, ANYONE, being killed, slaughtered, raped, sodomized, kidnapped, held hostage, or treated in any way less than respectfully. But it happens, and it happens with greater frequency in different eras and in different parts of the world. It can even happen on our own soil, unfortunately.
I am also against our often knee-jerk reaction to these atrocities and we, as a nation, becoming yet another mob who demands retribution and vengeance.
So what do we do? Unfortunately, we do not have good answers to that question, and when one does not have the answer, it's not helpful or wise to, out of desperation, choose a solution you know, ahead of time, will not work. If you have lived with any level of awareness for even twenty or thirty years, you will get that.
It's not about being the most powerful nation on earth. Obviously, we are not. It's not about letting them know who they are dealing with. They have already let us know more than once that they don't care who we think we are!
For me, I want us to be the SMARTEST and the most INTELLIGENT nation on earth. Perhaps also the most SOULFUL and SPIRITUAL nation on earth, a nation that lives according to revered values which include a deep respect for human beings and human life. Also a nation that is humble enough to learn from its own history.
FIGHTING ATTROCITIES: THE CHALLENGING WAY
Yes, what happened on September 11, 2012 in Lybia is incomprehensible, incomprehensible for so many different reasons. The first being that we just recently supported the Lybian peoples being freed from the repressive control of Muammar Gaddafi, and of course, one would think they would be grateful, particularly grateful to the man, Ambassador Stevens, who is credited in orchestrating the United State’s behind-the-scenes involvement in Gaddafi’s overthrow.
But, obviously, they, or at least some of them, are not grateful, as a relatively small mob of Lybians was able to attack the consulate and commit crimes upon Ambassador Steven’s person and body. Given that it was a relatively small mob of folks, you have to wonder why Lybia’s security forces could not have intervened both quickly and effectively. I mean, after all, they overthrew their dictator, for crying out loud, how difficult could it have been to control a mob of 200 people?
The bottom line is we will continue to allow ourselves to be used by extremist countries whom we CHOOSE to help for our own purposes, and we WILL be used by these same countries for their purposes and gain. I’m not sure there is any such thing as loyalty when it comes to allying ourselves with countries who are so totally different from us in culture and ideology. The alignments are for the sake of expediency on both sides.
I am sure our government knows these realities and knows them well. I am equally sure that Ambassador Stevens was well aware that he might some day give up his life as part of his personal commitment to bring peace to this part of the world.
But you and I, the general population, we continue to be naive. We want to continue to live in a fantasy world where war is according to the “Law of War,” which is the biggest oxymoron in human history. It’s like trying to prescribe the way one sneezes or, excuse the gross analogy, the way one poops.
We also want to believe that it is okay for the U. S. to make “mistakes” in war because we are the Good Guys. Well, “those other people” think they are the Good Guys, and we are the evil infidels. They consider our “mistakes” atrocities.
Why do we have such a difficult time getting that? I mean come on, take Bully 101, for crying out loud. Watch a few old cowboy movies. Get it. We are ALL human beings with great potentials for both good and evil. We each act those potentials out in our own way. Atrocities are atrocities whether you are the good guys or the bad guys.
After you pass Bully 101, take a few more classes. “Culture Clash and War,” or perhaps “Ideology Is Thicker Than Reason Or Virtue,”“Narcissism Meets Terrorism,” and for sure, “The History Of Atrocities In War.”
War is going to involve and include atrocities. There is no way around it. War requires that those who participate surrender their civility, their innate sense of what is right and what is wrong. And once that is surrendered, all bets are off, and the history of every war will substantiate that. Yes, even our soldiers participate in atrocities. Sad, but true. Again, it’s part and parcel of war. There is no such thing as a civilized war. It is ALL uncivilized and one uncivilized act breeds another.
Inform yourself by checking out these stories, and if you think these sources are politically motivated, then do your own googling and see what you come up with. And just for good measure, watch the film, a true story, Harrison's Flowers. See Link below.
We can go back even further in history and look at the U. S. atrocities in World War II, for example, the use of fire bombing which killed more people in Japan than the dropping of the Atomic bombs.
We can even look at the forgotten atrocity of what happened to German citizens at the end of the World War II. “In the largest episode of forced migration in history, millions of German-speaking civilians were sent to Germany from Czechoslovakia and other European countries after World War II by order of the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union," costing conservatively the lives of 500,000 people, mostly women, senior citizens, and children under 16."
If you are outraged by what happened in Lybia, please consider becoming equally outraged by what happens every day in every war and be outraged enough to stop sacrificing our sons and daughters to the gods of war whom most nations continue to worship, sometimes in the guise of freedom, but with the clear underlying agendas of economic and territorial prowess.
Retribution and vengeance are not effective means of stopping violence and terrorism and not at all effective in even beginning to resolve the conflicts involved in these on-going ethnic, cultural and ideological wars that have roots burrowing deeply into thousands of years of history, perhaps all the way back to our beginnings.
There is an old saying about fighting fire with fire. But any intelligent person knows that the use of fire to fight fire has very restrictive limitations and often has the complete opposite results.
The resolution of our conflicts with countries in the Mid East has to begin with our dereligionizing the conflict. We just recreate the Crusades when we see ourselves fighting a holy war. So, as Americans, let’s stop our part of the insanity by NOT identifying this war as a holy war against infidels.
Perhaps we are not aware or maybe we forget that there is a large segment of our American family who are Muslim. What are we, as non-Muslims, doing to enter into a dialogue with our Muslim family? And why do you react so strongly to my use of the term family? Did you know there are plenty of American Muslims in the military, and many of them have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan? Maybe in connecting with all of our American family, we can learn, maybe even a tiny something, about connecting with groups of people thousands of miles away from us, who, for whatever reason, see us as the enemy. Maybe we can learn what it will take not to see them as the enemy.
You know it is an interesting fact that the people who lived on the island where Christopher Columbus landed, could not see his ships that were anchored in the harbor. They had no mental model of such a thing as a ship that could traverse an ocean. They only saw the ships after the medicine man gave them permission to see the ships.
Hey, even in very recent history, Catholics, for example, refused to eat meat on Friday because they thought they would go to hell if they did. Come on, how naive is that? It took the Pope saying, “Yes, eat meat on Friday....Fish is the food of the rich and sinners.” Yes, the last part is a silly joke. Laugh!
So yes, all of us have Medicine People we look up to and believe and follow. Often these people are bestowed authority that rests beyond politics and religion, although obviously many of them are political and religious leaders. Sometimes, these folks are elders, Great Grandmother or Great Grandfather.
So perhaps the way in to the Middle East is for us to get beyond both politics and religion, to reach the folks who really have power and the ones the people do follow. And perhaps, in our dialogue with our Muslim American Family, we can find out who those folks might be, and begin another kind of “action.”
I was never convinced that Osama Bin Laden was the person we thought he was. Obviously, he was powerful. But I think he was more of a figure for the Middle Eastern world to rally around. I think the real charismatic leaders are the tribal leaders, the medicine men, the Imams.
I know some or many of you will be offended if I make this comparison, but in our own country, I am not sure that our presidential candidates are always charismatic leaders, but those who are charismatic leaders in our lives, whether it's Grandfather, our boss, our priest, our best friend who we consider smarter or perhaps richer than we are, these are the people that "tell us " how to vote or influence our choice. I don’t think that Americans in general really know anything about the candidates or the incumbent nor the details of what they have accomplished or not or what they can in reality do for us if they are voted in. We tend to vote for a face and some sound bites. Sometimes, the people who influence us the most are the people we least suspect, but nevertheless the folks we give the power to influence us.
I want to conclude by restating a paragraph from the introduction. For me, I want us to be the SMARTEST and the most INTELLIGENT nation on earth. Perhaps also the most SOULFUL and SPIRITUAL nation on earth, a nation that lives according to revered values which include a deep respect for human beings and human life. Also a nation that is humble enough to learn from its own history.
Perhaps the simplest way we can contribute to the so-called war on terror is working on our own personal and intimate relationships, for example resolving conflict, learning how to let go of the need to win, and learning how get beyond compromise to consensus.