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War: Why U.S. Citizens Should Stop Endorsing it
“War is peace.” That is the fallacy that the totalitarian government from George Orwell’s novel, "1984," stated in order to maintain control over the citizens. This is the fallacy the United States government implicitly states whenever involving itself in another war. War, of course, is not peace. It is a savage act full of blind hatred that the U.S. government pathetically decorates with ideas of peace. If the U.S. government does not truly desire peace, then what does it desire? Many hypotheses exist on the ulterior motives of the U.S. government's involvement in recent wars. However, this article will not search through the reasons for the United States' thirst for war; it will simply discuss how war is an unwarranted and perverse solution to problems.
When is Murder Right?
Ask almost anyone if murder is wrong and that person will give a resolute "Yes." Yet, most people would agree with the launching of a war on another nation. How does this inconsistency occur? Professor Phillip Zimbardo, a famous social psychologist, provides an insightful answer for this question in his book, "The Lucifer Effect." Zimbardo argues that because we dehumanize the enemy, it allows us to commit atrocities against him or her. If we do not view the opponents in war as people, then we do not have to treat them as such; all morality and mercy does not apply to the enemy who is dehumanized.
Gross sexual misconduct, rape, and severe violence towards the enemy are a nasty part of every war. For example, in the U.S. Abu Ghraib prison located in Iraq, the military officers subjected the prisoners to severe, inhumane abuse in 2004. Those officers even proudly displayed smiles as they forced Iraqi prisoners to get into obscure and sexual positions, taking photos all the while. Of course, the military blamed this incident on a few bad eggs; but, the main lesson to take from this is that when one dehumanizes another, disgusting things can occur. And, dehumanization always comes with war because it allows us to kill through the neglect of a conscience.
War still goes on even though it breeds inhumane behavior. And, who is to say this organized murder is right? Well, Max Weber, a German sociologist, pointed out that the government has the "monopoly on violence." In other words, the government controls and says when it is right to physically harm others.
However, others cannot rightfully direct an individual to commit violence according to the harm principle, proposed by the philosopher John Stuart Mills. This principle argues that "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." Therefore, the organized violence of war is not right.
The False Notion that All War is a Necessary Evil
Many may say that war is a necessary evil that cannot be avoided. But this is simply not true. War can only be justly waged as a necessary evil when all possible humanitarian strategies to avoid war have been taken. Of course, when a country begins attacking another relentlessly, war is practically impossible to avoid. Yet, most wars can be avoided by forming a cooperative/mutually beneficial relationship with other countries.
The problem is that opposing ideologies, religions, and governments will always act as barriers to international relationships. However, through continual acts of kindness and charity those barriers will dissolve. Even the most obstinate of people can learn to cooperate. The ability to understand and cooperate is what makes us civilized; it is what makes us human. When war is waged, both sides do not believe in the possibility of a cooperative solution; to put it another way, they dehumanize each other, which only leads to destruction. Fighting never acts as a solution; it is only a power struggle for dominance.
War: The Solution of the Ignorant
To engage in war, is to confirm that one is ignorant. Both sides of every war always believe they are completely right; but, actually, they are both completely wrong. The only way to be justified in war is when one's nation is being invaded and attacked by another for power or economic reasons. Otherwise, war is a shameful act that resembles a nation's disregard for the rights of other people/races.
The pride that the U.S. shows for its veterans and victories in war are entirely unwarranted. In Germany, after World War II, the veterans showed great shame in having fought. Germany stopped holding war in high esteem because the nation saw the horrific causes that come from war. The German people understand that war is an evil that pushes people to act barbaric. The U.S. still needs time to realize this and, when we do, it will foster our civility and make us a better nation.