18 December 2006

Are we a warlike nation?

We elect presidents who go to war, belittle presidents who carry out efforts of peacemaking.

We celebrate warfare, we marginalize pacifists.

We cherish biblical references of conflict and downplay admonitions of love and forgiveness.

Or is it the result of slickly orchestrated propaganda campaigns that villanize foes and color our cause as righteous and noble? If so, does evil reside in our national leaders that compose such media blitzes or in us for easily falling under its spell, failing to apply proper scrutiny to the proposed campaigns for making war?

In a 2004 radio address, President Bush stated through our history, America has gone to war reluctantly because we have known the costs of war.

Truly, are we a peaceful people, only dragged kicking and screaming into global conflicts? History suggests otherwise:

  • # of times the U.S. has bombed Serbia: 1
  • # of times Serbia has bombed the U.S.: 0
  • # of times the U.S. has invaded the Dominican Republic: 2 (1916, 1965)
  • # of times the Dominican Republic has invaded the U.S.: 0
  • # of human beings massacred by U.S.-backed death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala during the 1980s: 180,000
  • # of human beings massacred by Salvadoran and Guatemalan-backed death squads in the United States: 0
  • # of human beings murdered by U.S.-backed fascist governments in Uruguay, Chile and Argentina in the 1970s as part of "Operation Condor": 32,000
  • # of human beings murdered by the states of Uruguay, Chile and Argentina in the United States in the 1970s as part of "Operation Condor:" 2
  • # of human beings killed by U.S.-client Suharto in Indonesia in 1965: 600,000
  • # of human beings killed by Suharto in the United States: 0
  • # of times the United States has invaded Iraq: 2
  • # of times Iraq has invaded the United States: 0
  • # of children who died as a consequence of American bombing of civilian targets – chiefly the water purification and sanitation system – and sanctions from the Gulf War to Operation Iraqi Liberation: 500,000
  • # of children who died at the hand of Saddam Hussein in the United States: 0
  • # of Americans killed in the horror of 9/11: 2,800
  • # of Afghan civilians killed after Operation Enduring Freedom began: over 4,000
  • # of Iraqis killed as a consequence of Operation Iraqi Freedom: anywhere from 100,000 and counting.
  • We're the biggest arms peddler in the world.

    Is that really the model Jesus left for Christians to follow after him? While Christianity may not imply de facto pacifism, no way was Jesus an advocate for war and violence.

    Comments

    Aggressive war is only possible when the populace of the aggressor does not empatchize with the populace of the victim. It's very hard to do that when the last war on your soil was 141 years ago. There has never been an aerial bombing campaign on US soil. Very few other countries can say that. Pearl Harbor wasn't a campaign - it was an idiotic idea that shouldn't have happened. Not only that, it didn't impact many US citizens and wasn't repeated. Contrast that with the firebombing of Dresden, the Battle of Britain, the current activities in Baghdad, Afghanistan, Palestine, or the 3?4? hot wars in Africa.

    Until the US populace at large understands and internalizes the consequences of war, it will be nothing but a video game in their minds. It certainly isn't something that affects "human beings" . . . right?
    Neocon:

    My entire world-view is most definitely not predicated upon the evils of the American Empire. Frankly, it is that kind of dismissive categorizing that is the root cause of war.

    Yes, more people have been killed by non-US causes in the last 100 years than by US causes. Yes, every one of those perpetrators had very good reasons (in their minds) for what they were doing. Just like the US does for what it's doing.

    However, unlike most of those nations, the US has the capability to choose its political leadership. Within any 6 year period, the US populace can theoretically change the direction of its goverment's policies 180 degrees. There is a level of accountability that is absent in every one of those examples you listed.

    That this accountability is avoided through the lowest voting turnout of ANY nation, industrialized or not, is pathetic. The last general election in the US had a turnout of around 40%. The last election in Iraq had a turnout over 85%. Same with Afghanistan. Of course, those nations had to deal with insurgencies, threats of death, and travel times of up to a week to get to the closest polling place. How was your election experience?

    Given that the US populace has an unprecedented capability to indirectly control the military that receives 50% of the world's military spending, it is reasonable to discuss what the US government chooses to do and why.
    Neocon:

    You make good points and yes, other nations have acted in far more barbarous fashion. But the point I'm making and question I'm asking is targeted at the incongruity between offical state proclaimations (like GWB radio address) about how U.S. **reluctantly** goes to war when in fact, history shows otherwise.

    The fact that we are the biggest arms shipper (bigger than the next 14 nations combined) speaks volumes in itself.

    But your reply is "we're not as guilty as they were"... ...sorry, that's as poor as a excuse as a wife beater that he only beats his wife and not his girlfriends...
    I'm addressing post WWII period here.

    Who was the enemy when we decided to overthrow democratically elected governments in Chile, central America, Iran?

    In post WWII, we backed Nazi fascists because of the "cold war".

    We enabled Suharto and Hussien to kill and maim their own.

    And most of this was done behind the public's back and still many details are hidden.

    The analogy of wife beating wasn't a shot at you, just that if charges are made, and defense is well, we're not as bad as these guys... ...well that just doesn't sit right...
    Neocon -

    Thank you for the apology. I do hope that I can find a place here to discuss interesting topics with others of good conscience.

    I don't think that being reluctant to invade a nation is a virtue. Invading another nation is never a virtuous act and to argue otherwise is, imho, a restatement of "the ends justify the means" which I hope we can agree is a bankrupt ethic.

    You said:
    "As I've said, until the tyrannists, anarchists, despot wannabees are defeated and replaced by governments run by the people, the US will have to play a direct role in foreign affairs.
    The problem, Rob, is that the US MUST do so to avoid more mass genocides and democides that I cited above."

    At any given time in the history of the world, there have been at least three genocides taking place simultaneously around the world. At this moment, there are genocides occurring in the Congo, Darfur, Israel, and Turkey, let alone the disasters that are Iraq and Afghanistan. There are also some 10 civil wars. US foreign policy has had a hand in CREATING every single one of those disasters, directly or indirectly. Not only that, but the US government has either ignored or actively protected the antagonists in every single current genocide and/or democide around the world.

    The US is a great place to live. There are few other places in the world I would choose to raise my children. However, that does not mean that I have to cheer every decision the federal government makes, particularly when I feel that those decisions create a world that is less safe for my children.
    Neo you reflect my sentiments. Mankind has been "waring" for thousands of years. America has been around for only a little over 200 years. We are a warlike species, that is evident from our long history of battles and wars. America is a product of our ancestors, from europe who grew in strength through conquest and war. This is a fact. Despite this baptism in blood and fire from which America was born, I must point out, that the majority of wars we have been in in the 20th century were either to liberate our allies, while at the same time protecting our national and international interests, ot in defence of our allies, which also enhances our national and international security. We began the 21st century going to war. However It is apropriate to say that we were DRAWN into WAR in IRAQ and the middle east, simply because of our mistakes in the past in trying to remain at "peace".

    Naum says "The US is a great place to live. There are few other places in the world I would choose to raise my children. However, that does not mean that I have to cheer every decision the federal government makes, particularly when I feel that those decisions create a world that is less safe for my children."

    and I agree 100%. I disagree that we are a "warlike nation." I believe we are and will be in the near future a "warlike species".

    I pray for the day when man will no longer fight and kill, sadly this is in our nature, It's wrong, but until we decide that the life of our children is more important than the death of those we do not agree with or do not like, this will never change.

    a good read if one chooses to take a look http://www.warscholar.com/T...
    This is ridiculous. The US a warlike nation?! Hardly. The internets favorite past-time, American-bashing has reached a new ridiculous level.

    There is a big difference between having an interventionist foreign policy and being a historically warlike nation. America is currently the world superpower. With that always comes the notion of a responsibility to 'police' the rest of the world. Other than Korea and Vietnam the US foreign policy can hardly be called warlike. Covert, manipulative, unjustified, you could make an arguement of calling it that but warlike is pushing it.

    To be considered warlike a country's citizens must be accustomed to making sacrifices for war-efforts and comfortable or at least accepting of the idea of serving. Post WWII America doesn't in the least bit fit that category. Most Americans are unaware or completely ignorant of the reality of thier foreign policy. American citizens consistently whine about the costs of war when it doesn't even affect their lives at all.

    America has only engaged in 11 major wars since its existence(Independence, 1812, Mexican, Civil, Indian, Spanish, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, IRaq/Afghanistan) and entered both its world wars late. Although American soldiers did engage in some of the heaviest combat in WWI and were the bulk of the allied assault in the nearly-constant fighting in the wars closing months, its suffering doesn't compare to that of the other nations involved. In WWII Americas servicemen fought bravely, especially in the Pacific, but the largest contribution was its industry seeing that the war was won or lost in the east.

    Back to post WWII US foreign policy, it's no different than an other historical superpower. In its heyday the British Empire was constantly in minor engagements across the globe. Countries like Britain and Germany come across as far more warlike than the US to me.

    America was forged and found success by war but it and its people are nowhere near warlike.

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