Philosophers and religious sages tell us in absolute terms that war is an abomination. Political realists tell us that war is sometimes necessary. In this case, it is the philosophers who are being realistic, while the realists' rhetoric grows from an unspoken philosophic casuistry. There is always an implicit appeal to ideals of freedom, independence, or justice that is either disingenuous or profoundly mistaken. It is these political realists on both sides of a conflict who will manipulate the public into condoning warfare. The people are suspicious of such appeals. It was not necessary to fight the American Revolution in order for the United States to gain independence from Great Britain. Canada amply demonstrates this. Without the Civil War, slavery might have been eradicated more slowly perhaps but more thoroughly, without the enduring legacy of racial bitterness. Nelson Mandela has shown us how. And Hitler might have been defeated in time through economic pressure, diplomatic isolation, and covert support for internal dissent, just as the Cold War was won forty years later. This diplomatic and economic path was never even tried before World War II, and, in fact, some of the largest corporations and wealthiest banks in America were profitably supporting the Nazis right through The War. Nations that eschew warfare prosper, as they focus their resources on development, research and infrastructure instead of weapons. Over time, this creates a decisive competitive advantage for countries like Switzerland, Sweden and post-war Japan. War is built on lies. The propaganda invoked to justify a war effort subverts public discourse and undermines the credibility of the State. In the long run, it may be that the cost to society from the subversion of truth exceeds even the loss of life and limb. War demands unthinking obedience. A population that is educated to follow its leaders blindly into war becomes, paradoxically, an easier prey for domination by a foreign conqueror. A population accustomed to vigorous independence will prove ungovernable by foreign demagogues. It is difficult to conquer a democracy by force; and on the other side, the closer a government hews to the will of its people, the less likely it is to engage in a war of aggression.
When we teach nonviolence, we build the social basis for justice, tolerance and democracy. When we train soldiers to hate and to kill, we are inviting waves of violence into our families and our communities. http://tinyurl.com/26gnb9
With the rise of democracies worldwide in the last century, war is even less worthwhile, more difficult to justify pragmatically than ever before in history. Despots and demagogues may profit from war, but never their subjects. Political leaders invoke the myth of the 'good war' in the past, then lead their people down a slippery slope to a tragically unnecessary war in the present. Every war is an abomination. Josh Mitteldorf