Author Topic: Violence, War and Big Ideas like that.  (Read 1621 times)

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Offline ivan the tolerable

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Violence, War and Big Ideas like that.
« on: December 04, 2010, 02:38:14 »
If this is in the wrong forum, I apologise, and request it be moved to the right one.  I just wrote up this little rant expressing some random thoughts in my head.  Then I thought, "You know, Army.ca has a bunch of real smart bu66ers who could probably tell me whether I'm talking out of my arse or not."

So, not without a great deal of fear and trepidation over the prospect of getting my philosophical arse handed to me on a tray, I submit for the perusal of the wise ones of the great Army.ca, some thoughts of the man known as Xena (please be gentle, I'm not used to thinking deeply):

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“Anyone who clings to the historically untrue -- and -- thoroughly immoral doctrine that violence never solves anything I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler would referee. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor; and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms.” - Robert Heinlen

Interesting thought.  Although I have some reservations about it.

I'm not too sure violence has ever truly solved anything either, at least in the long run.  In the short run, certainly.  Wars get won/lost.  Victors go home for tea and medals.  The country that came in "First Runner Up" - not so much.  Job's done.  Heinlen's right - in the short term.

However, history is rife with examples of "people group A" wanting revenge on "people group B" for some atrocity committed against "people group A's" ancestors in revenge for a yet previous atrocity committed against "people group B", ad infinitum.  We just keep trading atrocities, and moral outrage.  It is clearly seen in the history of areas like the Balkans, most of Africa, the tensions between the English and the Irish, the Chinese and Japanese, etc.  World War II was started, basically, as revenge for World War I and the treaty of Versailles.

One solution to the revenge merry-go-round: bin the Geneva Convention, League of Nations, the Hague, and the UN, and adopt a total war philosophy.  When you fight someone, kill everyone, military, civilian, men, women, children, livestock.  Destroy the infrastructure, and completely raze their real estate.  Leave nothing standing.  Leave no evidence that they even existed.  What Scipio Aemilianus did to Carthage would be the blueprint.  Don't leave anyone to want revenge later.  I never said this option would give anyone the moral high ground.  But it would be effective.  In this modern era with nuclear weapons, it could be easily done.  Although, with grave risks all round, both, if one's enemies managed to get their hands on nuclear weapons as well, and also through extensive ecological damage to the relatively fragile planet that we depend upon for our existence.  It may be the logical conclusion to the point of view expressed in the quote above, but maybe not the best choice after all.

I've mentioned before, that I think it takes more courage to forgive an enemy than it does to kill them.  I still think that.  Even the passage from Starship Troopers quoted above doesn't change my opinion of that.  And forgiveness wastes a lot less human life.  But that only works with a political enemy.  Or at least, an enemy who is capable of realizing that they've been forgiven, and that they are in the debt of the forgiver.  Also, it obviously doesn't work on the battlefield.  Once you get to the battlefield situation, you're waaay past where this would work, so please don't misunderstand me, I'm not denigrating the honorable work of soldiers throughout history in any way.  I am an ex-soldier myself, and am entirely unashamed of that.  But would forgiveness work on an enemy who has such religious-philosophical blinders on, that they wouldn't perceive it?

Nope - I don't think so.  They would see it as simply more justification to fight for their "cause".  The way Al-Qaeda and the Taleban perceive any sort of restraint as "weakness", or divine intervention on their behalf is evidence of this.

And please don't think that forgiveness is the same as any ideas of the namby-pamby hand-wringing "anti-war-ists" who don't think anything is worth fighting for.  It is an entirely different concept.  If something isn't worth conflict over, it similarly isn't worth forgiving either.  There has to be substance to an offence for forgiveness to have any merit.  If something "isn't worth fighting for" then the forgiveness for it is equally void.  True forgiveness validates the substance of the dispute.

This is part of the difficult shift in our age.  It's a military paradigm shift.  We're no longer fighting countries.  We're fighting belief-systems.  We're fighting ideas.  We're fighting against ideas with tatics that were intended for use against geo-political nations.  The restraint that our militaries use (by quite rightly obeying the Geneva Convention, Hague rulings, etc!) has to be balanced with a philosophical-ideological aggression and ruthlessness to equal that of a total war, so that our ideas leave no room for their ideas.  Our ideas have to supplant theirs.  Their ideas have to be razed.  We need philosophers, teachers and religious leaders on side and fighting these ideas just as aggresively as the soldiers on the ground.

Otherwise, we're just leaving ideas (and the people who have them) around that are going to want revenge later on.  And I have no practical idea how to get those philosophers, teachers and religious leaders on board and working.  They're a notoriously unruly bunch, and I suspect the task would be akin to herding cats.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2010, 02:50:04 by xena »
Summary of my service career:  Too much of a poof for JTF2.  Too lazy for CSOR.  Not energetic or bright enough to do anything vaguely glamorous.  But I was never too scared to ask the fat chicks if they wanted to dance!

Offline bdave

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Re: Violence, War and Big Ideas like that.
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2010, 07:16:53 »
If this is in the wrong forum, I apologise, and request it be moved to the right one.  I just wrote up this little rant expressing some random thoughts in my head.  Then I thought, "You know, Army.ca has a bunch of real smart bu66ers who could probably tell me whether I'm talking out of my arse or not."

So, not without a great deal of fear and trepidation over the prospect of getting my philosophical arse handed to me on a tray, I submit for the perusal of the wise ones of the great Army.ca, some thoughts of the man known as Xena (please be gentle, I'm not used to thinking deeply):

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

“Anyone who clings to the historically untrue -- and -- thoroughly immoral doctrine that violence never solves anything I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler would referee. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor; and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms.” - Robert Heinlen

Interesting thought.  Although I have some reservations about it.

I'm not too sure violence has ever truly solved anything either, at least in the long run.  In the short run, certainly.  Wars get won/lost.  Victors go home for tea and medals.  The country that came in "First Runner Up" - not so much.  Job's done.  Heinlen's right - in the short term.
This is incorrect. Wars change the outcome in both the long and short run.
A common example: How different would the world today be if the nazis had won WW2? Violence can be the solution. There are many ways to persuade someone from across the globe to see things your way. Sometimes, you might be asking certain individuals to stop attacking you. If those individuals refuse to listen, what can you do? Don't be so naive to think that if you talk long enough with someone that they'll be like 'ok, pal'.

One solution to the revenge merry-go-round: bin the Geneva Convention, League of Nations, the Hague, and the UN, and adopt a total war philosophy.  When you fight someone, kill everyone, military, civilian, men, women, children, livestock.  Destroy the infrastructure, and completely raze their real estate.  Leave nothing standing.  Leave no evidence that they even existed.  What Scipio Aemilianus did to Carthage would be the blueprint.  Don't leave anyone to want revenge later.  I never said this option would give anyone the moral high ground.  But it would be effective.  In this modern era with nuclear weapons, it could be easily done.  Although, with grave risks all round, both, if one's enemies managed to get their hands on nuclear weapons as well, and also through extensive ecological damage to the relatively fragile planet that we depend upon for our existence.  It may be the logical conclusion to the point of view expressed in the quote above, but maybe not the best choice after all.

This is done to minimize needless suffering. If you destroy the infrastructure, then who is going to rebuild it? What is the point of leveling another country? There is usually a motive and punishing an entire population due to a dictator is pretty stupid.
What Scipio did was simple. He had hundreds of slaves at his finger tips and alot of things were easily rebuilt. The Roman Empire's main strength and weakness was the fact that it relied heavily on slaves.
I don't think you realize how much time and money is required to rebuild anything to our technological standards. Concerning the life style people have today, which involves very little death, meaning people are not used to and appalled at the idea of war, you would probably see riots and large scale public outlashes. Our soldiers are trained to refuse unlawful orders. How do you propose we rewire every Canadian to think the opposite of what they think today?
 These geneva conventions are rules that most abide by to minimize needless suffering on both sides.
"I won't bite if you won't".


This is part of the difficult shift in our age.  It's a military paradigm shift.  We're no longer fighting countries.  We're fighting belief-systems.  We're fighting ideas.  We're fighting against ideas with tatics that were intended for use against geo-political nations.  The restraint that our militaries use (by quite rightly obeying the Geneva Convention, Hague rulings, etc!) has to be balanced with a philosophical-ideological aggression and ruthlessness to equal that of a total war, so that our ideas leave no room for their ideas.  Our ideas have to supplant theirs.  Their ideas have to be razed.  We need philosophers, teachers and religious leaders on side and fighting these ideas just as aggresively as the soldiers on the ground.

Otherwise, we're just leaving ideas (and the people who have them) around that are going to want revenge later on.  And I have no practical idea how to get those philosophers, teachers and religious leaders on board and working.  They're a notoriously unruly bunch, and I suspect the task would be akin to herding cats.

I don't think we've ever fought countries. When we were fighting the Nazis, we were fighting their belief system.
When the Americans were 'fighting' the Soviets, they were fighting a belief system (Democracy versus Communism).
A country simply represents the belief system, but it has always been about the belief system.
Whether they were religious wars back in the medieval days or otherwise.
It has always been about belief.

There will always be different beliefs. Even people who came from the same family tend to have different thoughts. I don't believe war will ever go away.
 :2c:

Offline ivan the tolerable

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Re: Violence, War and Big Ideas like that.
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2010, 15:02:15 »
bdave, thank you very much for responding and giving me stuff to think about.  I appreciate it.

However, I'm not sure you grasped the big picture of what I was trying to say, and I assume that it may have been due to my inability to express it well.  My apologies.  We agree that wars change things in the short term.  But, I'm not sure they always change things in the long term, precisely because of this back and forth thing that goes on throughout history.  And we may have a different idea of what long term means.  On an overarching historical scale, World War II has barely ended.

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Don't be so naive to think that if you talk long enough with someone that they'll be like 'ok, pal'.

Huh?  Who are you talking to?  I never said anything like that.  It's a bit of a non-sequitor, methinks.

Also, I wasn't seriously suggesting total war, with complete razing of one's enemies as a viable option.  It was used to illustrate that we have to look for an alternative to that.

Quote
I don't think we've ever fought countries. When we were fighting the Nazis, we were fighting their belief system.

I disagree.  If we had been fighting their belief system, we'd have also been fighting in a lot of other countries, some during World War II, and some after.  I don't recall anyone declaring war on Pinochet's regime in Argentina (in fact he was US backed, oddly enough).  Our judicial system, and to a lesser extent, our police forces, seem to be hesitant to root out various neo-Nazi groups, as well as certain groups like the Communist Party of Canada.  Strangely, we actually entrench freedom of speech, and freedom of political and religious beliefs as rights in our society.

When we fought the Nazi's we were fighting the Nazi government.  Not the German populace.  And, unfortunately, not the ideas behind Nazism, because they most certainly have never  been conquered.  As repugnant as they are, they're still out there lurking in the shadows.

I'm just speculating that it may be high time to declare war on these ideas, like Nazism, Communism, Wahabism, and even racism, but that at least some of the work has to be done in the realm of ideas, because brute force, as effective as it is, is too blunt of an instrument - it doesn't always succeed in eradicating the idea, it just pushes it further into dark corners only to pop-up again in a few generations.

But, yeah, I'm probably talking out of my arse, because that would be like pushing rope uphill...
Summary of my service career:  Too much of a poof for JTF2.  Too lazy for CSOR.  Not energetic or bright enough to do anything vaguely glamorous.  But I was never too scared to ask the fat chicks if they wanted to dance!

Offline bdave

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Re: Violence, War and Big Ideas like that.
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2010, 07:38:38 »
The problem with your post is that I wasn't sure what side you were agreeing on.
One part you seem to say "war is bad", then you turn around and say "we should level cities", then turn around and say "we should learn to forgive", then turn around, etc.
 ??? :P
 

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Re: Violence, War and Big Ideas like that.
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2010, 12:36:51 »
Perhaps another way to say all those words, (a la Sean Connery, in The Rock), in a way understandable to to us Infantry folks:
"Your 'best?!' Losers always whine about their "best"! Winners go home and f_ck the prom queen."
         

In the short term, fighting war may be the best option; things are *ahem* accomplished. In the long term, perhaps doing one's best, and avoiding conflict, builds more character and makes for a better society. Additionally, maybe 20 years down the road, the Prom Queen has become one of the Wal-Mart people, and she insists on hanging off of you at the high school's 25-year reunion.*  :-\


...or maybe I'll simply avoid these deep-thinking, philosophical debates   ;D




* Arguably, a very obscure reference to Iran and Libya holding credible positions in the UN.....by virtue of us not having gone to war with them and sorting them out.  ;)