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The Futility of War and Peace

Updated on November 8, 2015

The Futility of War

As has always been the case, the spoils go to the victors. Naturally, an interested party has to be in the fray in order to achieve victory as well as walk off with the spoils. Almost every day, someone of merit, accomplishment, and good conscience utters a few words of misgiving on television. The situation is grave, grim, and does not bode well for a brighter, securer future. We are not fighting in Syria, not full throttle, lots less, in any case, and, in effect, helping to hand the country over to a dictator we prefer not to deal with. It does not, on the surface, seem right. The U.S. has a major interest in the Middle East. It is not as if it does not matter. But despite Herculean efforts already inscribed in the history books, there is yet more turmoil. The present administration has taken a great deal of heat for abstaining from a firmer stand and a greater presence in the embattled arena. No one likes the idea of Syria, to be more specific, falling into the hands of the Islamic State, Russia, or Bashar Assad. It is even possible that the might combine, form a Triumvirate, and enter into an agreement, dividing the nation amongst themselves. No one really knows until the dust clears.

It might be of use to reflect upon the use and mis-use of arms. Very often actions drag on without any perceivable purpose or calculable value except the costly prevention of an enemy or perceived enemy from having its way. In the meantime, there are casualties, accidents, and unexpected events. Naturally, it is not the job of the armed forces to go wherever they please whenever it suits their mood. There is a chain of command that is impossible to contravene. In brief, the President is Commander-in-Chief. In this respect, he has no equal. Looking back, the founding fathers may have been unduely influenced by the original choice of George Washington, who prevailed against the British Empire, then, as president, fathered the whole nation. Still, any presidential vision, connected to, or disconnected with, an able military, can achieve its goal, though it does, logically, compete against other visions.

Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace

His 9th draft of the epic novel.
His 9th draft of the epic novel. | Source

Looking Ahead

Without trying to second guess the powers-that-be, it looks as if the next administration will have to grapple with very tough issues that currently divide a diverse nation. Further, the future is somewhat up for grabs. This is a poor choice of words, I know, since Russia annexed one nation, part of another, and is involved in what looks to be a limited expedition to bring about a pro-Russian regime in Syria. Simultaneously, other battles are taking place in order to control large or, as the case might be, smaller swaths of land. Odds are, in the aftermath of so much belligerence, U.S. interests will suffer. But the idea of staying aloof from the present warring parties in Syria and Iraq is justifiable. How many times should troops return to Mosul if it cannot realistically be held? As horrifying as the Islamic State is, as much as it ruins our appetites and offends our senses, it is also in the process of losing millions of fellow-citizens. They simply up and leave. If the Islamic State thinks it can march around, wave its flag, ride in macho vehicles, shoot wildly into the air, and make videos, without hardly a soul in sight to see them up close and personal, it is not only a collection of animals but totally insane, too.

There are studies being done that indicate how America is losing its status the world over. It has little ideological influence (as to why freedom and democracy is such a hard sell is another topic) and militarily, does not inspire fear. The latter could change in an instant. It is to the credit of the current policymakers that circuit breakers are now in place to slow down the rush into battle. Actually, there are no real circuit breakers, only a massive restructuring in terms of re-thinking. 9/11 has turned out to have been a fluke. The threat of terror cells everywhere like cancer has not borne itself out. Without being self-absorbed or exclusive, many overseas countries directly affected by troubles involving force have situations not compelling enough to warrant American intervention. For instance, Yemen keeps popping up every now and again in the news. Terrorist organizations like its friendly accommodations for training camps. So, as a result, recruits exercise in martial arts jump suits and face masks. What of it?

Heaven on Earth by Izaak van Oosten

Only in the arts, not yet in reality.
Only in the arts, not yet in reality. | Source

The Futility of Peace

History is full of examples warning against the perils of doing nothing in the face of danger. They are easily exaggerated in today's day and age. Thus far, Iran has managed to gain much more attention than it deserves. Having become the North Korea of the Middle East, it is perhaps not irrevelevant to point out that neither country would last a week if it were to make good on their threats. For a long time now, many Americans have been frustrated at home with problems that are ignored in favor of foreign affairs that never fail to win patriotic fervor. This phenomenon is not the sole property of the U.S. Sampling dated novels by Palestinian authors teaches a great deal about the lives and life styles of the eternally frustrated. Palestinians are not hopeless cases, not by any means. But when, upon occasion, they attack Israel, despite a few brief moments of blissful happiness -- hitting targets inside what used to be their homeland -- they wind up inside internment camps, subjected to the whims and wiles of their captors.

There is probably no comparison here since American forces are much better off than a mere group of impassioned exiles. Anti-Americans who mean to do us harm are mostly far, far away. Strangely enough, few here have anything against their ethnic backgrounds or religious practices. The main objection is their enormous use of violence. Terrorists are also growing in number. Their fighting has enabled them to acquire skills needed for the darkest craft. The peace that we enjoy is neither deep nor truly peaceful. Nevertheless, there is a lot to be said for resisting the impulse to engage an enemy that is not going anywhere. It is pretty much out in the open. Its activities are observable. It will occasionally take a village or a road, then give them back. We know where to find them. No mountain will hide them. Their erstwhile, dreaded sneakiness is questionable. Though they manage to get sporadic write-ups in the newspapers, along with photos and pictorial essays in the visual media, they must constantly maneuver themselves into the public eye. How easy it is to forget them!

Today's Ayatollah to Watch

Iran 2007.  Tehran's Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei.
Iran 2007. Tehran's Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei. | Source

Looking Back

The inevitable reference to WWII is useful, but hardly a guide to the next maelstrom. An interesting historical study written on the subject of war held the thesis that new wars almost always begin by re-fighting an older war. Thus, WWII was, in part, meant to correct, for the German, what had gone wrong in WWI. Naturally, nothing is so facile. Yet, there is an element of truth in the theory, as well as an additional element of caution. Wars cannot be re-fought. The urge to undo the outcome of the initial Arab-Israeli Wars is insuppressible. To go back even further, to WWII, which serves as prelude, is futile. WWII was much too devastating. All the same, terrorism contains within its theo-political ideology the seedlings of another form of rising fascism. There is a school of thought that avers how Nazism could have been stopped cold, several times, before it became a scourge. The enemies of Western Civilization, Israel, the United States, and other free nations, and ways of life, too, cannot at this point be so easily disposed of. Looking back is essential, but only a wizard could find within the confines of history the antidote to the spread of today's venom.

Internal Affairs

America is Already at War

Not to put too fine a point on it, there are issues on the homefront that cannot be swept aside even by foreign provocations that seem to point to a single solution. For instance, at a press conference on Ferguson, Missouri, the president asked that citizens react rationally to a court decision that went against Michael Brown's family, friends, and neighbors. In other words, the country itself does not have its act together. Before dropping everything in order to straighten out matters in Homs, Aleppo, and Damascus, there are disputes right here that badly need to be settled. Otherwise, our tragedies will repeat themselves. The mishap in question won for a spell television audiences who might otherwise have been focused on foreign entanglements. That is the phrase used by our first president. As he left office he warned against them.

A year from now, everything will be different. But for the time being, it is a good thing, not bad, that domestic and foreign problems be held in the balance, hindering knee jerk reactions that might later be regretted.


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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      This tightrope balance between decisive action and the avoidance of "foreign entanglement" is always worthy of reflection. Great job here, thank you.