The desire for war

I would like to take issue with the impression left by the Jan. 24 front page story in the Aspen Daily News on David Barsamian.

It implies that the primary problem facing America today is the ouster of the Bush administration in this year’s November elections. Even if this were accomplished, this still leaves us with two other grave concerns:

1) What will we do with the permanently frustrated right wing in our country, which will literally be up in arms if their boy is knocked out of the ring?

If right-wing pundits still find enough to complain about even though they have the White House, the Senate, the House and a majority in the judiciary, think of how much more energized they will actually be by a Democratic presidential victory in November!

2) How will we come to terms with the peculiarly American tendency to instinctively reach for the gun ” to resort to violence and war ” when it comes to solving highly complex problems? No matter where we stand in the political spectrum, we still have to face this habitual mindset that has been ingrained in us as part of our cultural conditioning.

The Bush administration is only a symptom of precisely this underlying “attitude” which, in the population at large, has reached truly epidemic proportions. We now know from former cabinet member Paul O’Neill’s testimony that this administration had war in their hearts long before 9/11.

So, if they are still sending teams to Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction, they are straying far afield from where this idea truly originates ” the innate disposition of their own minds. This tendency to war is just as alive and kicking in our country today as it was nearly a century ago, when the American psychologist and philosopher William James delivered this sad commentary on the collective state of the American psyche:

“The plain truth is that people want war. They want it anyhow: for itself and apart from each and every possible consequence. The born soldier wants it hot and actual. The non-combatant wants it in the background, and always as an open possibility, to feed his imagination …” (Remarks at the Peace Banquet, 1911).

Until We the People ” right, left and center ” squarely face up to the desire for war lingering in our own hearts, changing the boy at the top of the pyramid is only going to treat the symptom, not the underlying disease.

Joel Brence, M.D.