Friday, September 30, 2005

Some comments made in response to some of my entries have gotten me thinking. Is war inevitable? Are we forever doomed to repeat the cycle of violence?

My inner cynic tends to think we may be doomed. I’m not sure which of our 46 chromosomes turns us into a greedy, fearful and territorial lot. But that’s what we seem like.

But, I refuse to let my inner cynic win. I think we can stop fighting wars but it will take a massive shift in the way the world works. These changes will not come easily and, sadly enough, may never happen at all. But here are my ideas how we can move far away from using armed conflict to resolve our disputes.

1.Work to eliminate poverty. Poverty makes people desperate. Desperate people do desperate things to survive. They follow any leader that will promise the necessities, food, water, medicine and shelter. Don’t believe me? Please study the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. They are also likely to rise up if they feel their poverty isn’t so much because of bad luck but rather because they are being forced into a bad situation. Does “let them eat cake” ring any bells? If we had a well fed and taken care of planet we would definitely see a decline in violent conflict.

2.Stop being so nationalistic. Being proud of your country is one thing and that’s perfectly fine. But, looking down on other nations as inferior or evil leads nowhere that’s worth going. All nations need to lose their air of presumed superiority.

3.Realize that all wars are between the governments not the citizens. I am not aware of single case where the citizens compelled an unwilling government to go off to war. The citizens need to be aware of what the government is doing at all times and challenge them every time they want to send their armies off to battle.

4.Realize that almost all wars could have been prevented. World War II is a good example. Had the Allies been less severe in dealing with Germany after World War I, then there’s a good chance the conditions never would have arose to allow the Nazi’s to take control in Germany. You see, after World War I the Allies made Germany pay severe war reparations and this wrecked the German economy. The Germans desperate to make better lives looked to the man who they thought could deliver them, Hitler.

5.Confine your military to your own borders. The United States has 100’s of military bases in dozens of countries all over the world. As a general rule most nations aren’t big on having foreign militaries on their soil. We have a military base in Cuba; imagine if Cuba wanted to build a base in Mississippi. It wouldn’t be overly popular.
6.Have a stronger United Nations or some other international body to police conflicts. We need some sort of world organization that is recognized by all nations to help serve as an intermediary. The UN right now is relatively powerless because nations can largely ignore what they say and there is little that the UN can do. If there was some entity that could at least arbitrate disputes between sovereign nations and have their decisions hold up, then war could slowly be reduced.

7.Outlaw preemptive military strikes. Of course this is dependant on having a stronger UN, but no nation should ever be allowed to attack another without provocation.

8.Outlaw nuclear weapons. No one should have a weapon this powerful. Their possession makes the armies that hold them feel invincible. Not possessing them makes armies that don’t hold them fearful of those who do. This is not a good combination.

I know these ideas are pretty big ones. We need to think of a grand scale to stop something that is as awful and usually as unnecessary as war.


Anonymous Dave said...

Eliminating worldwide poverty is an important issues. What country has done more to reach this goal than the USA? Our government gives food, money and miltary protection to countries in need. On top of that, my guess is that American citizens send more of their personal income to other countries to fight poverty more than any other nation. We are a generous people by nature, yet we are despised by those we would help.

Poverty in many instances, has been thrust upon the people of foreign nations by their rulers. To make matters worse, these rulers do everything they can to keep the general population in poverty. We are powerless in many cases to help those in that type of situation.

This is a tough one: "The citizens need to be aware of what the government is doing at all times and challenge them every time they want to send their armies off to battle."

That's fine and dandy in a free country. In some nations, people are killed, tortured, raped and may have the same done to their families for challenging the government. I think that kind of crap used to happen in Iraq....before we got there.

Let's say that we can get all the leaders of all the nations to agree that they will not start a war with any other nation. What about terrorists? How do we stop them? They have their own agendas and won't answer to anyone...period.

As far as the UN's a useless, corrupt, wishy-washy body that seems to serve little purpose. It wouldn't hurt my feelings if we sent them all packing. Someone once told me that the UN building might make a good homeless would finally be doing some good at least.

Me thinks your inner cynic is right...we are doomed to live with war. We are stuck with war as long as there are unreasonable dictators, tyrants and terrorists on the face of this planet. If war can help to rid us of these nasty types, the world is better for it in the long run.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

I challenge your critic Dave to find documentation to support his allegation that American citizens send more of thier personal income to other countries to fight poverty than any other nation.

Dave implies that torture has stopped in Iraq since we got there. And yet we see the sickening photos of the torture and fatal beatings administered by our own soldiers. We are finding out that these incidents have happened in many of our prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo. Human Rights Watch released a report on Sept. 25 of new abuse allegations in a prison near Fallujah. Eric, you are right when you say that we need to be aware of what the government is doing. We share in the responsibility for these repeated incidents of torture if we turn a blind eye.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Josie -

If we can agree that Foreign Aid contributions based on ODA (Official Development Assistance) are an indicator of an attepmpt to fight overseas poverty, then the private sector of The United States simply donates more money to the cause than any other nation's citizens do.

In this article: It shows that the US Federal ODA Aid for 2004 was $18.9 billion. More money than any other nation. Japan was 2nd at $8.9 billion followed by France at $8.5 billion. Add Japan and France together and you still fall short of the U.S.

I know that those numbers aren't private sector contributions, but further in the same article, we find this: "...the generosity of the American people is far more impressive than their government. Private aid/donation has been through charity of individual people and organizations though this of course can be weighted to certain interests and areas. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note for example, per latest estimates, Americans privately give at least $34 billion overseas..." Of these private sector dollars, it further says Personal Remittances from the US to developing countries was $18 billion in the year 2000 alone. Furthmore: "While Adelman admits that “there are no complete figures for international private giving” she still says that Americans are “clearly the most generous on earth in public — but especially in private — giving”."

I find this to be overwhelmingly supportive on my guess that American citizens do indeed donate more money out of there personal incomes to fight poverty in foreign lands than any other nation...unless you have more compelling, reputable information to the contrary and care to share it.

As to torture in Iraq, I certainly did not imply that there is no torture being committed in Iraq. Please read it again: "In some nations, people are killed, tortured, raped and may have the same done to their families for challenging the government. I think that kind of crap used to happen in Iraq....before we got there."

I indicated that the Iraqi people can speak out against their government there without the fear that the government will torture, rape, or kill them and their families for it.

Now,if our soldiers are torturing and beating people to death and are found guilty by fair trial, they should be punished accordingly.

As unacceptable as it is to have that kind of thing taking place there now, I hope that when it's all over with, we will see that it pales in comparsion with what has gone on in that country under the "leadership" of Saddam.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...


The web page address I listed is not complete. Here it is:


12:42 PM  

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