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Is war Necessary?

Wyldinstinct

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Is War Necessary?

by Harry Browne

January 16, 2004

I have managed to live on this planet for 70 years without ever striking another human being.

There have been a dozen or so times when someone wanted to fight me. I managed to talk my way out of a fight in most of those cases. In the few times I didn't succeed in avoiding a fight altogether, I managed to end the scuffle without hitting the other person and without suffering any noticeable damage to myself.

Granted, I've been fortunate. I grew up in a peaceful suburban area. Had I had the bad fortune to have been born in the inner city in a gang neighborhood, I might not have avoided violence so easily.

But that's an important point. Being fortunate in the circumstances of my birth and my growing-up, I didn't squander that good fortune by looking for trouble.

The U.S. by Birth

America was also fortunate in the circumstances of its birth.

After one apparently necessary fight to extricate itself from British rule, it found itself in the best neighborhood possible. It is bounded by two friendly countries and two enormous oceans. No need here to look for trouble.

And yet, ruled by American instead of British politicians, the United States has found itself embroiled in one street fight after another.

In fact, in the 20th century there were less than 20 years in which America was at peace with the world. What with World Wars, the Cold War, police actions, gunboat diplomacy in Latin America, overthrowing governments in Iran and other places, suppressing the Philippine rebellion, interfering with the Mexican revolution, firing missiles at Afghanistan and the Sudan, invading Panama and Grenada, bombing Libya, and on and on and on, Americans have lived with the tension of conflict and violence almost their entire lives.

And we live in a good neighborhood!

The Swiss by Birth

Contrast our circumstances with those of Switzerland.

The poor Swiss have the misfortune of living in the middle of one of the worst neighborhoods in the world. Centuries of imperial rivalries, ethnic hatreds, governments armed to the teeth and ready to go to war at the drop of the hat, and populations nursing grudges against each other — all these elements have kept Europe in turmoil for centuries.

Switzerland is like the inner-city family that hears gunfire outside its windows every night.

And yet Switzerland hasn't been involved in a single war for two centuries. The Swiss managed to avoid being sucked into the World Wars, the Cold War, or any of the other conflicts that have beset Europe.

The Swiss haven't been fortunate in their geographical circumstances. But they've dealt with those circumstances intelligently. It wasn't by the grace of dictators that they've avoided war; it has been a national policy to do so.

The Swiss have always made sure it was in the self-interest of warring nations to leave Switzerland out of their quarrels. They've devised ingenious defenses to demonstrate that, while Switzerland is not unconquerable, the cost of conquest would be intolerable to the conqueror. And they've made themselves an indispensable trading partner to any country that otherwise might see some profit in invading Switzerland.

It may seem that war is inevitable for many countries — such as the warring factions in the Balkans or some countries in Asia or Africa. But Switzerland has proven that it isn't inevitable for anyone — not even for a country as poorly situated as Switzerland is.

Why then is America continually at war over one thing or another?

The "Last Resort"

Whenever the U.S. goes to war somewhere, the politicians tell us that diplomacy was tried and failed — and that war was the very, very, very last resort.

But the truth is that the politicians didn't try much at all to avoid war. And the diplomacy was bound to fail, because it involved our politicians making insensitive demands on a foreign country — demands we had no authority to make, demands that were known in advance to be unacceptable to the foreigners.

In the few cases that America has been attacked, it's been because our politicians were trying to dictate to other countries — countries that represented no threat to us at all. The foreigners attacked either to try to gain an advantage against the stronger U.S. when our government had made war seem inevitable (as at Pearl Harbor), or because attacking seemed the only way to strike back at a country that was throwing its weight around in other people's business (as in 9/11).

Our Neighborhood

How easy it would have been for Americans to have lived the past two centuries in peace. We have never been attacked by a country that hadn't first been bullied by our politicians.

Maybe others aren't so fortunately situated, but we are.

No one can seriously believe that terrorists have struck America because they hate our freedom, our democracy, or our prosperity. If that were true, they would have warmed up first by attacking Switzerland — an easier target.

And if someone asks how you would handle the terrorists without war, now that Pandora's Box has been opened, here's a simple answer:

I'm not certain what I'd do, but I know one thing for sure: With $2 trillion a year at my disposal, I could hire the best minds in the world to find a solution that didn't involve using the cave-man tactics of trying to beat people to death.

But no one in power is interested in finding alternatives to war. They arm to the teeth and then tell us we will obtain "peace through strength."

Well, America has been overwhelmingly strong for a century, and we're still waiting to see the peace. As Charles Beard put it, we've had "perpetual war for perpetual peace." Perhaps part of the problem is that we have an overwhelming national offense, but practically no national defense.

Is It Necessary?

I have never hit anyone, and not doing so has caused me no humiliation; nor has it made me a target for bullies. If America made peace the object, it need be neither humiliated nor picked upon.

Is war necessary?

For Americans, no.

Is war inevitable?

For Americans, yes — so long as we give politicians the power to meddle in our lives and in the lives of foreigners.

http://www.harrybrowne.org/articles/IsWarNecessary.htm
 
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cnredd

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[Moderator mode]

As per forum rules...

8. Copyrighted Material - All material posted from copyrighted material MUST contain a link to the original work.
Please do not post entire articles. Proper format is to paraphrase the contents of an article and/or post relevant excerpts and then link to the rest. Best bet is to always reference the original source.
Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 107 http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html

[/Moderator mode]
 

TheHonestTruth

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To answer the question. No.

Neither are corporate profits that come from insider political connections, but they are desired by the power structure.

Corrupt and ignorant politicians and corporations created the unneeded war machine.

Without our corrupted government and these clowns maybe we wouldnt be policing the world and maybe we'd actually spend money on America, what a concept!


There is a motivating profit motive among politicians and their cronies (Lynne Cheney sits on the Lockheed Martin board which won the huge government contract over Boeing to build fighter jets for the military a couple years ago while her husband was in office).


But also, if you noticed how America has been constantly at war for the last half century, its about controlling the public. War is a social control device that uses fear and "patriotism" to control the public. They get more tax dollars every year, and we cant easily question policy because "were at war damnit" and the fear of the enemy keeps us distracted from the power grabbing of the elite cronies and their political accomplices.



Here is a great video (3 minutes long maybe) about War Corporatism.

http://thatvideosite.com/view/664.html


Enjoy.
 

oldreliable67

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Perhaps part of the problem is that we have an overwhelming national offense, but practically no national defense.
Old maxim: the best defense is a good offense.

countries that represented no threat to us at all.
You left out Hitler's Germany.

or because attacking seemed the only way to strike back at a country that was throwing its weight around in other people's business (as in 9/11).
So that made it okay to kill innocent civilians in the embassy attacks, US service men in the Khobar Towers and the USS Cole, and more innocent civilians on 9/11? Give me a break. Have you actually read the text of Bin Laden's fatwah in which he decalres war on all infidels?

Have there been armed conflicts in which the US has participated that were ill-advised and perhaps could have even been avoided? Entirely possible. Certainly seems so with good ol' 20/20 hindsight and maybe some revisionist history to help it along.

Your point seems to be that isolationism and being able to talk your way out of each and every dispute, no matter the rationality (or lack thereof) of your opponent will keep you safe. Dream on.
 

FinnMacCool

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That article probably is correct but I don't think america would be ready to actually try and step down from the throne of a world super power. I would be content for having our country not leading others for a change.

What you don't realize Old is although the terrorists were wrong, it can be argued that we were wrong also in interfering in Middle Eastern affairs, Israel for example. I do believe we were supporting a government that is as bad if not worse then the terrorists that strike against it.
 

Kandahar

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A well thought-out essay. I agree with Harry Browne on a lot of things, and while I'm not an isolationist persay, Browne brings up a lot of good points. In the entire history of our nation since the American revolution, I think we've maybe been justified in going to war twice: WWII and Afghanistan. While Browne may very well be right about the causes of these attacks against Americans, once we were attacked we needed to fight. So out of 229 years, we maybe needed to be at war for 7 years, instead of the 200+ years have actually been at war.

To answer the question "Is war necessary": Rarely.
 

oldreliable67

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Finn,

What you don't realize Old is although the terrorists were wrong, it can be argued that we were wrong also in interfering in Middle Eastern affairs, Israel for example.
[Serious mode off/]

Oh, I realize it. And I refuse to invoke the obvious 'two wrongs don't make a right' flip response.

[/Serious mode on]

Though this is a topic deserving of its own thread, and at the risk of hijacking this thread, a couple of quick observations about the US, Israel and the Middle East and the inability to find a peaceful settlement in the region...

Over the years, we've made lots of mistakes in the Middle East. If you go back far enough, we've listened to appeasers, we've listened to terrorists, we've listened to religous fanatics, we've listened to just about anyone who gave us any ideas about how to facilitate peace in the region. Nothing has worked thus far.

The process now underway is accomplishing things that were unthinkable under Arafat, not the least of which is Israel actually withdrawing from Gaza. Abbas is, so far, living up to his reputation for preferring negotiation to violence. A good thing. How far can it go? Only time will tell.

The trick in the entire Middle East is, I think, to economically integrate all Middle Eastern countries with the rest of the world. That is the only way to accomplish mutually assured dependence. As Thomas Friedman says in his book, "The World is Flat", no two countries having McDonalds outlets have every gone to war with each other.

Only with their own state can the Palestinians become truly economically integrated with their neighbors and the rest of the world.

Just my opinion -- your mileage may vary!
 

FinnMacCool

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OH so the Israelis are withdrawing from Gaza huh? so what? This was taken as a victory for the Palestinians in their little war and they will never try and make peace cause they want the whole god damn place. The only way they can solve this problem is to fight an all out war and personallY I could care less who is the victor cause both sides are messed up.
 

oldreliable67

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The only way they can solve this problem is to fight an all out war
Actually, thats exactly what I used to think, and I used to think, "the sooner the better so we can get this thing settled and over with". The odds are still long, but this is the most progress that we've had in decades. May not be enough, but it is a step in the right direction.
 

Iriemon

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Wyldinstinct said:
Is War Necessary?
In the few cases that America has been attacked, it's been because our politicians were trying to dictate to other countries — countries that represented no threat to us at all. The foreigners attacked either to try to gain an advantage against the stronger U.S. when our government had made war seem inevitable (as at Pearl Harbor), or because attacking seemed the only way to strike back at a country that was throwing its weight around in other people's business (as in 9/11).
This BS IMO. The Axis powers in WWII represented a real threat to the United States. We did not "dictate" anything to other countries -- refusing to supply another country with our oil is not "dictating." "Throwing its weight around in other people's business" does not excuse in any way Al-Queda's attack on 9/11.
 
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