America’s wars are for virtue

Inconvenient truths from Henry Allen:

The United States doesn’t fight for land, resources, hatred, revenge, tribute, religious conversion — the usual stuff. Along with the occasional barrel of oil, we fight for virtue. [Read more...]

Military’s qualms about war with Syria

Our military leaders have some major qualms about attacking Syria.  From Ernest Londono, U.S. military officers have deep doubts about impact, wisdom of a U.S. strike on Syria – The Washington Post:

The Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military, which is coping with the scars of two lengthy wars and a rapidly contracting budget, according to current and former officers. [Read more...]

Endless war

We have entered an era, according to Greg Jaffe, of endless war:

In previous decades, the military and the American public viewed war as an aberration and peace as the norm.

Today, radical religious ideologies, new technologies and cheap, powerful weapons have catapulted the world into “a period of persistent conflict,” according to the Pentagon’s last major assessment of global security. “No one should harbor the illusion that the developed world can win this conflict in the near future,” the document concludes.

By this logic, America’s wars are unending and any talk of peace is quixotic or naive. The new view of war and peace has brought about far-reaching changes in agencies such as the CIA, which is increasingly shifting its focus from gathering intelligence to targeting and killing terrorists. Within the military the shift has reshaped Army bases, spurred the creation of new commands and changed what it means to be a warrior.

On the home front, the new thinking has altered long-held views about the effectiveness of military power and the likelihood that peace will ever prevail.

In the decades after Vietnam, the U.S. military was almost entirely focused on training for a big, unthinkable war with the Soviet Union. There were small conflicts, such as Grenada, Panama and the Persian Gulf War, but the United States was largely at peace.

After the Soviet collapse and America’s swift Gulf War victory, the military bet that it would be able to use big weapons and vastly better technology to bludgeon enemies into a speedy surrender. It envisioned a future of quick, decisive and overwhelming victories.

A decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has crushed the “smug certainties” of that earlier era, said Eliot Cohen, a military historian who served in the George W. Bush administration.

via A decade after the 9/11 attacks, Americans live in an era of endless war – The Washington Post.

Drone proliferation

During the early part of the Iraq war, someone had the idea of installing a Hellfire missile on a surveillance drone.  Thus inventing one of the most formidable weapons ever, which can kill an enemy with no risk to the person wielding the weapon.  Now other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, want them and are trying to buy them from U.S. companies.  Read this:  David Ignatius – Dazzling new weapons require new rules for war.

Can or should anything be done?

Peace through strength

Congratulations to President Barack Obama for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. By awarding the prize to a wartime president who is presiding over two wars and has just ordered an escalation in one of them, the Nobel Prize Committee may be setting a precedent that recognizes that peace often comes from force of arms. President Obama delivered a speech to this effect:

Just nine days after ordering 30,000 more U.S. troops into battle in Afghanistan, Obama delivered a Nobel acceptance speech that he saw as a treatise on war's use and prevention. He crafted much of the address himself and the scholarly remarks – at about 4,000 words – were nearly twice as long as his inaugural address.

In them, Obama refused to renounce war for his nation or under his leadership, saying defiantly that "I face the world as it is" and that he is obliged to protect and defend the United States.

"A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida's leaders to lay down their arms," Obama said. "To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism, it is a recognition of history."

The president laid out the circumstances where war is justified – in self-defense, to come to the aid of an invaded nation and on humanitarian grounds, such as when civilians are slaughtered by their own government or a civil war threatens to engulf an entire region.

"The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it," he said.

He also spoke bluntly of the cost of war, saying of the Afghanistan buildup he just ordered that "some will kill, some will be killed."

"No matter how justified, war promises human tragedy," he said.

But he also stressed the need to fight war according to "rules of conduct" that reject torture and other methods. And he emphasized the need to exhaust alternatives to violence, using diplomatic outreach and sanctions with teeth to confront nations such as Iran or North Korea that defy international demands to halt their nuclear programs or those such as Sudan, Congo or Burma that brutalize their citizens.

"Let us reach for the world that ought to be," Obama said. "We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace."

Maybe next year the prize will be given to George W. Bush.

UPDATE: Seriously, it’s a good speech, and, as Kathleen Parker points out, it is distinctly Christian in its worldview and theological tradition. Consider this passage:

“For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”

Here we have acknowledgement of the reality of evil, implying the existence of objective moral truths; the imperfections of man; the limits of reason; just war theory. All proclaimed to a hostile crowd that has probably forgotten these elements of their Christian heritage.


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