Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 11, 2009

 
Today is Remembrance Day in Canada. It's a day to remember that war is evil and horrible. It's a day to remember that war represents the ultimate failure of a civilization.

War is not glorious. People who kill other people are not heroes. The people they kill are not heroes. We are shamed when we turn average citizens into murderers. We lament their deaths because it means we have failed in our responsibility to maintain peace. They paid the price of our failure.

Soldiers are a necessary evil, like prison guards. The long range goal of a humane society is to eliminate armies (and prisons). Once a year, on this day, we need to think about how far we are from achieving that goal and what we can do to make it a reality.

We need to remember our past—the dirty, ugly, face of death and destruction—and resolve never to repeat it. We need to apologize to those men and women we forced to endure those horrors. We need to promise our children that we won't make them go to war.

No war is necessary. Tanks, bombers, and battleships are not necessary. I dream of an eleventh day of the eleventh month when, at the eleventh hour, no cannons are fired, no soldiers are marching, and no fighter planes are flying overhead. That will be a day to remember.

The greatest generation will be the one that avoids war. Perhaps our children's children will be that generation.


[Photo: Dresden, February 14, 1945]

[Poster by Lorraine Schneider (1925-1972), for the Los Angeles organization Another Mother for Peace, 1967.]

11 comments :

  1. Thanks Larry. That's a great post. I completely agree.

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  2. Fans of John Prine remember his 1972 song "Take The Star Our of the Window," about a vet coming hom from Vietnam and wanting his conscience to take a rest.

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  3. I have been looking for this sort of commentary all day - thanks.

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  4. War is easy. Peace is hard.

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  5. Unfortunately, sometimes war is unavoidable. Thus, war was the only way to stop a sociopathic megalomaniac like Hitler.

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  6. War may be morally justifiable under certain circumstances (e.g., peacekeeping). However, it's is never glorious, and that's something that I wish we could instill in more politicians and demagogues.

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  7. SLC says,

    Unfortunately, sometimes war is unavoidable.

    I don't agree. War is always avoidable.

    You may be referring to the idea that when an avoidable war is started by some megalomaniac dictator it becomes necessary to fight back.

    The key to preventing another war like World War II in Europe is obvious. Europeans have pretty much succeeded in removing all the causes of that war.

    It's a remarkable achievement. It means the end of over one thousand years of warfare.

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  8. Carlos says,

    War may be morally justifiable under certain circumstances

    I don't agree. War is never morally justifiable.

    There may be times when war is the lesser of two evils but it's still evil. And it always represents a failure to maintain peace. You can't find a moral justification in failing to prevent war.

    And don't forget that doing evil things can never be elevated to something glorious or heroic.

    We need to be careful about using the "moral justification" ("good war") argument. At best, it's an excuse for failure. At worst, it's a justification for starting a war.

    Hitler though his war was morally justifiable. And so did George W. Bush.

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  9. Re Larry Moran

    I am afraid that I am going to have to respectively disagree with Prof. Moran. Hitler had to be stopped and the only way to stop him was either war or assassination.

    By the way, I am going to have to take exception to Prof. Morans' comparison of Hitler and Bush. In no way, shape, form, or regard was Bush even on the same planet as Hitler when it comes to evil deeds. I say that as someone who did not vote for him and who thinks that Bush was a disaster for the US whose invasion of Iraq was moronic in the extreme, and who, with the possible exception of James Earl Carter, was the worst president in US history.

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  10. SLC says,

    I am afraid that I am going to have to respectively disagree with Prof. Moran. Hitler had to be stopped and the only way to stop him was either war or assassination.


    I agree.

    Once Hitler decided that he was going to start a war then it was a very good idea to fight back.

    That does not mean that World War II was "unavoidable." Surely there were ways of preventing Hitler from ever getting into the position where he could start a war?

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  11. War is the continuation of politics by other means

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