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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/21/13

Wars Come In Many Flavors

Message robert wolff
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I vaguely remember a story we learned in school about the Crusades. That is the Middle Ages, the year thousand and after. Bands of farmhands and ragtag boys were shipped to the Holy Land to wrest Jerusalem from the Infidels. Under the leadership of some Baron, Count, or Lord. Few boys ever came home. Until, the story goes, the leader of the enemy invited the leader of a late Crusade for tea. "Dear enemy" he said in the story, "we donʻt like to slaughter those innocent boys you put against us. Theyʻre not trained, they know nothing of fighting a war, many donʻt even have weapons. Wars have to be fought with rules. When you attack you blow a horn, when you give up you wave a white flag. You and I are gentlemen after all." And with such wise words the story ended.

'In the 18th century and perhaps into the 19th wars were still fought by some of these rules, armies against armies. A war had to be declared -- in our Constitution the president may be the Commander in Chief but it is Congress that declares a war. 
The first world war was still army against army but weapons had developed; slaughter on both sides. The second world war established that wars now are fought against civilians. Today that is entirely out of style. We no longer declare war. Our army does not fight another army, now we kill individuals, any man of any age who we suspect of not liking us. And we kill with a missile guided and launched by an unmanned silent airplae, flown by computer half a world away  Almost certainly the man we kill is among friends or family; they are collateral damage.
Kurt Vonnegut opened our eyes to  wars fought by men who do not see the enemy and so do not know what they bomb. Today the men who fly the drones from an office are even more removed and unaware of the mayhem they cause. We, here, are told that the War on Terror we have waged for more than ten years now is to prevent another 9/11. Two thousand Americans killed. In revenge we killed perhaps arwo hundred thousand people, destroyed two countires, then democracize them by training their police and armies. It is sometimes called asymmetrical war, the full force of the greatest army the world has ever known against one man. No longer an eye for an eye but a millon eyes for one. Wars now are fought by the might of a nation condensed into a distant computer-driven air vehicle finding and targeting one individual. Evidently we ignore others happens to be near the target. 
Yes, we have come far in a very short time. This is the new normal, the current flavor of the War on Terror. Not called that any more, not talked about, covered by foreign news only it seems. The Vietnam war taught us that a powerful modern army cannot win against guerillas who blend in and out of the population. We should have guessed that terrorists are a version of guerillas, but the wars go on. These large national-sized wars are money makers and they give work to many people. They also kill millions of people of course but we declare them the enemy and we donʻt count enemy deaths.
This War on terror is by no means the only war we fight. We have been fighting a War on Drugs (substances declared "drugs" by politicians) for thirty years. Filling hundreds of private prisons. Lots and lots of money, lots of jobs.  That war also created a huge number of victims who we learned long ago to forget. 
On another front modern medicine fights bacteria and viruses with ever more potent chemicals, antibiotics. And on yet another front Monsanto and other chemical enterprises fight worldwide wars against weeds and pests with chemicals that they build in seed. Lots of money. lots of jobs.
On a world scale we are fighting wars against the planet. We use enormous force to dig up coal and oil and rare metals, destroying landscapes, poisoning rivers, smothering the earth with concrete and asphalt. Now also forcing natural gas out with poisons that we keep secret, unknown, and therefore impossible regulate. Making lots of money, lots of jobs. However: 
In fighting nature, man can win every battle except the last.
Thor Heyerdahl
Our culture is based on the root idea that we, humans, have taken over. We are in charge, we control the planet. We control everything by killing what we don't like. We have the power to make over plants and animals. We create new forms of life, genetically manipulated organisms. We have made mice with human brain cells, more aggressive than ordinary mice. A new bacterium that causes a new disease: we kill with a specially constructed antibiotic. Of course wars have their costs. More potent antibiotic have more potent side effects, requiring other chemicals to control side effects of the antibiotic that kills dangerous bacteria. But lots of money, lots of jobs. 
Our infatuation with control is so intense that even when it is all too clear that terrorists, bacteria, the planet, are fighting back we ignore it. We trust our scientists to kill what we don't like. Or, if we cannot kill it at least put it away for life without parole; out of sight out of mind.
I read about a new bacterium that does not cause an illness but is unaffected by almost all the antibiotics we have made. And what is even more spooky it passes not only from person to person but from bacterium to bacterium. If this creature gets into an organism it passes that ability to other bacteria. The story I read ended with the panic among epidemiologists who can imagine the spread of dangerous bacteria no longer killed by antibiotics. So far these new bacteria have only been found in a few hospitals. If theses bacteria spread it does not bear thinking about. I notice that later stories are downplaying the original one. Our chemists will put together a new super antibiotic. After all, we should be able to control these pests in hospitals. Just wash your hands. Donʻt worry be happy.
It might just be that here is nature talking back. Not on the scale of the world climate, but with a tiny something we cannot even see without a good microscope. 
Maybe it is time to review our root ideas. Maybe killing what we donʻt like is not the way to go. Maybe our passion for control is sort of old style, eh? Maybe we should stop making wars on. Maybe we should study times when we were peaeefully integrated into the whole of nature. Could it be that wars are out of style? 
Don't take away my guns! 
Yes, that is truly uthinkable in this country. Second Amendment. My dictionary says that Militia means a kind of army, organized. Where did an earlier Supreme Court find the idea that it means everybody, anybody, has the right to carry a gun? 
You hunt? You need a gun to hunt, right? Ratatatatatatatatat you killed, shredded, your deer. And the tree beside the deer is dead and another tree behind the deer. But whatʻs a bit of overkill? We over-everything. We overeat, overmedicate, overorder, overspend, overwork, ovewhelm. One thing is for sure: guns will not kill those new bacteria. 
Here a suggestion for the half of all scientists that does not work for the weapons industry. We badly need a something that would stop all expkosives from exploding. Bombs, bullets, mines, missiles. All scientists can help. I don't know what it could be: a gas that spreads around the world, a magic ray beamed from space, a word from God. But He already spoke. Very simple talk: Thou Shalt Not Kill.
While we were busy waging wars we barely noticed that we got an ancient world back. An ancient empire of wealth. Four hundred men own half the wealth of this nation. The stock market bounces from the highest it has ever been to even higher the next day, and the next. But that does not mean much other than that the rich play hopscotch with each other. The DOW does not make jobs but the rich make lots of money.
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robert wolff lived on the Big Island, called Hawai'i

his website is He passed away in late 2015. He was born in 1925, was Dutch, spoke, Dutch, Malay, English and spent time living and getting to know Malaysian Aborigines. He authored numerous books including What it Is To Be Human, (more...)

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