Wars won’t end evil
Dear Editor:If we want to avoid becoming permanent members of the war-of-the-month club, we need to understand how governments seduce us into supporting military adventures. Our perceptions of any event, particularly in times of trauma, are significantly influenced by how the event is framed. Consider Bush’s speeches right after 9/11. He tells a fearful nation, “Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil …”Framed this way, we’re not attempting to understand and solve a particular problem, we’re on a mythic quest, a patriotic mission to rid the world of evil. In the mythic mode of thinking, Good and Evil are reduced to Us and Them. Crucial issues of the world are neatly divided into black and white. You only have to decide “are you with us” or “with the terrorists.” Any diversion from the official narrative means you are “an apologist for the terrorists.”Believing the enemy is evil, we assume he will lie. Therefore, real communication and negotiation are impossible and often aren’t attempted. Complete destruction of the “evil other” is seen as the only solution.Since “We” and “They” are so different, the same actions are “Good” when we do them and “Evil” when they do them. They “slaughter innocent civilians” and we conduct surgical strikes of liberation with occasional regrettable collateral damage. Our thoughtful leaders have checked the war plan out with God. They assure us that He thinks devastating the Cradle of Civilization and torture are great ideas.When we hear the beating of war drums, we must learn to respond with reasoned discourse. We must focus on objective assessment, accountability, communication, and genuinely engaging the world community in creating solutions that minimize bloodshed. At times war still may be necessary, but should be entered into with the knowledge that wars won’t end evil, stop people from terrorizing each other, or make the world safe for Democracy – and they won’t make us completely safe either. War will bring unanticipated, unwanted consequences and kill a lot of innocent people who really aren’t that different from you and me.Jim ChenowethNew Castle
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