Thursday, July 14, 2005
Of the liberal democrat crowd opposed to the war (probably a majority of the party), a vocal segment would oppose war under any circumstance. Pacifists should be "outed" for what they are for the simple reason that any opposition rationale they offer beyond the fundamental pacifist principle is phony.
The fact is most of the American public is not pacifist. If you dismiss pacifism as wholly unrealistic (a very polite referral, in my judgment) and frankly not credible, then you are left with a large group of folks, conservative and liberal, who at least live on the same planet. This may seem unnecessary, but I think it is becoming increasingly important in the context of the war to turn away from labelling everybody in partisan terms, and instead focus on relative philosophy. The meaning of liberalism and conservativism, Democrat and Republican shifts over time and doesn't necessarily focus on philosophy. Appropriately labelling those who are pacifists for what they are will rob them of credentials and credibility when pontificating about warfighting, strategy and tactics. And their opinions should be marginalized. The only way you can do that is if you focus on their core philosophy of war and peace. McCain, Bush, Cheney, Lieberman, Biden...these guys all disagree about lots of stuff, but none are pacifists. Pelosi, Leahy, Kennedy, Boxer...I sense all of these clowns would have opposed WWII and Korea (as they undoubtedly did Vietnam). Kerry is probably not a pacifist, but both he and Clinton flirt with the philosophy. Is Hillary a pacifist? And how about the "journalists?" What percentage of those who write about the war philosophically oppose war? It would be nice to know, wouldn't it?
This is not time for any of that nonsense, at least not without full disclosure.
I made this argument on a centrist website a few months ago. I was roundly decried- most argued that liberals supported the war in Afghanistan war without reservation (they forgot that 48 Dem Senators opposed the 91 Gulf War). Perhaps the Dem party is not a purely pacifist party- but it's heart & soul sure reside there. Dems will go through extraordinary machinations to avoid even minimal conflict. Many Dems belive that war is an outdated concept- that it's just about immature 'boys with toys'. Unbelievable. There's little appreciation that our military strength preserves our fundamental freedoms.
amusing since most dems immediately whined that afghanistan would be an intractable quagmire and we should avoid.
the pacifist often now hides behind the facade of supporting certain wars (only in hindsight), seemingly viewing their mission as trying to grind our war capability to a stop. or hides as a journalist.
the other angle is of course the marxist or statist who wants to impede the inevitable spread of free markets and hides behind some antiwar stance.
they are all full of it.
Take the War in Iraq- Dem Senators begrudgingly supported the Prez's war initiative (they had little choice politically) but rejoiced when they discovered that no WMDs were discovered. At the first opportunity to bail, they're gone.
And you're also right about supporting wars after the fact. That's exactly what happened with the Gulf War... after repeated doomsday scenarios about 50,000 US casualties.
Uhhh... to oppose a war because of concern that it may become "an intractable quagmire" is not the sort of argument a "knee-jerk pacifist" would make.
Also, I'm sure it's useless to make this point here, but pacifism is a much larger concept than just opposition to wars. It is about love, and about recognition of self-worth. Conservahawks talking about pacifism remind me of creationists misinterpreting the use of the word "theory". Anyway...
SH - I won't bother with the distinction between notions of non violent resistance to oppression, a hallmark of those you enumerated, versus pacifism in the context of a free society which uses its military to defend and expand freedom against tyranny. I wouldn't classify your symbols as pacifists. But it's wasn't the point of my post. The point is that a significant portion of the liberal/left demo party and MSM is pacifist -- philosophically opposed to all wars -- and they should simply own up to it. Like you for instance. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. Just admit it. Then at least people can have a sensible discussion about principles and agree to disagree. What is absurd is for the pacifist to critique war strategy and tactics as a means to degrade the war effort because of philosophical pacifism. One last point -- the country should never, ever elect a pacifist as president. The world is far too dangerous a place for that. I am thinking Jimmy Carter here. What a disaster. In every way.
Brendan - it's not even possible to respond to your goopy post. Pacifism is a philosophy, and most reasonable intelligent people, regardless of their partisan inclinations, can agree the core of that, or any, philosophy.
Another thing to chuckle about -- I think it's funny that those on the left who use Jesus and the Rev MLK as symbols of pacifism, or non-violent resistance, or love, or whatever, tend also to dismiss religion, creationists, etc. Another ironic example of inconsistent thinking. Whatever.
a) you haven't fooled anyone into thinking you know what you're talking about: "the distinction between notions of non violent resistance to oppression, a hallmark of those you enumerated, versus pacifism". You like to split legalistic hairs when you're cornered.
b) I'm not going to tell you if I'm a pacifist or not (Ask Hawk, he might tell you).
c) If I were a pacifist, and I found it ethically more consistent to argue using whatever tools necessary to bring the world closer to peace, then I could utilize whatever angles necessary to dissuade others from violence.
d) And, aside from another lousy attempt to paint the left with a broad brush, your black-and-white-ism is an example of the startling cultural difference b/w the wing of the republican party you represent and the wing of the democratic party I represent. You're an absolutist, and I'm not.
e) Lastly, I dismiss the bejesus out of some creationists. And I have quite a bit of contempt for organized religion as it's reared it's republican head. However, I've studied the world's religions for years, and were we to sit down over some heathen pound cake I'd explain my philosophy to you.
Thanks for reading all this ranting. You're my least favorite writer on this blog, but I keep coming back, hoping to see Hawk rub off on you some more.
C'mon Cardinalpark, admit it.
You. Like. War.
"War allows us to rise above our small station in life. We find nobility in a cause and feelings of selflessness and even bliss. And at a time of soaring deficits and financial scandals and the very deterioration of our domestic fabric, war is a fine diversion. War, for those who enter into combat, has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque. The Bible calls it the lust of the eye and warns believers against it. War gives us a distorted sense of self; it gives us meaning." - Kalle Lasn
Pacifism is the great temptation in the Dem Party. I agree that, at the end of the day, Clinton and Kerry aren't pacifists (although they probably struggle with it internally.) Similarly, most Dems would fight to protect our shores. Beyond that, however, military force is a last, last, last resort- that's always pushed back. Most voters sense this- it's why Kerry lost. Biden and Lieberman get it.
Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible for a state that is to be legitimate and recognized by its population as such to come into being without war. War is the basis on which any state acquires the monopoly on the legitimate use of force that constitutes its legitimacy as a state. The new government of Iraq, which in some sense never fought its "fouding war" because of the strange circumstances of its creation, is fighting the war that will establish its legitimacy right now.
What does this say about pacifism? It is a workable personal creed, and it is recognized as such by even the American system. As a political philosophy to be applied broadly, though, it cannot succeed because it cannot result in legitimate governments.
Very true. Some of the blame has to fall on university education- where, in a relatively short time, liberal thought has assumed incorrectly that democracy and order are natural states- somehow overlooking centuries of despotism, tyranny, theocracy, and cruelty. As you note, nothing short of conflict creates and insures freedom. Up until the 60s, this was understood and accepted (witness the voluntarism of WWII). Now? Hardly....
Sorry- I wanted to complete my thought. There are some of historical exceptions where nascent democracies are seemingly formed without conflict (India, South Africa, some old colonies in Africa- come to mind). But in nearly every case, the dominant power has the underpinnings of a classically liberal democracy. This situation isn't present in the Middle East (except, of course, for Israel).
The most puzzling thing about Iraq to me is the lack of support frome libertarians and liberals- groups which traditionally reject theology and by extension- theocracies. One would think that Islamic oppression would inspire these groups to assist the oppressed in obtaining freedom. Instead, there's an amoral "I've got my freedom- tough luck for you" attitude that permeates these groups.
Some of the blame has to fall on university education - where, in a relatively short time, liberal thought has assumed incorrectly that democracy and order are natural states - somehow overlooking centuries of despotism, tyranny, theocracy, and cruelty.
what's breath-taking to me isn't my statement. It's how few Americans volunteer for military service. Again, in a relatively short historical period, participation in military service has dropped drastically. Today, most can't be bothered. (And for what it's worth- yes I did, 3 year active duty Army)
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