Friday, September 30, 2016

War and Pacifism

And Rumors of Pacifism

(From our Archives, Apr. 2006)

Francis Schaefer: "The Bible is clear here. I am to love my neighbor as myself, in the manner needed, in a practical way, in the midst of the fallen world, at my particular point of history. This is why I am not a pacifist. Pacifism in this poor world in which we live - this lost world - means that we desert the people who need our greatest help."

Michael Kelly (Sept. 26, 2001):

"Pacifists are not serious people, although they devoutly believe they are, and their arguments are not being taken seriously at the moment. Yet it is worth taking seriously, and in advance of need, the pacifists and their appeal.

It is worth it, first of all, because the idea of peace is inherently attractive; and the more war there is, the more attractive the idea becomes. Second, it is worth it because the reactionary left-liberal crowd in America and in Europe has already staked out its ground here: What happened to America is America's fault, the fruits of foolish arrogance and greedy imperialism, racism, colonialism, etc., etc. From this rises an argument that the resulting war is also an exercise in arrogance and imperialism, etc., and not deserving of support. This argument will be made with greater fearlessness as the first memories of the 7,000 murdered recede. Third, it is worth it because the American foreign policy establishment has all the heart for war of a titmouse, and not one of your braver titmice. The first faint, let-us-be-reasonable bleats can even now be heard: Yes, we must do something, but is an escalation of aggression really the right thing? Mightn't it just make matters ever so much worse?

Pacifists see themselves as obviously on the side of a higher morality, and there is a surface appeal to this notion, even for those who dismiss pacifism as hopelessly naive. The pacifists' argument is rooted entirely in this appeal: Two wrongs don't make a right; violence only begets more violence. ...

In 1942 George Orwell wrote this, in Partisan Review, of Great Britain's pacifists:

"Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me.'"

England's pacifists howled, but Orwell's logic was implacable. The Nazis wished the British to not fight. If the British did not fight, the Nazis would conquer Britain. The British pacifists also wished the British to not fight. The British pacifists, therefore, were on the side of a Nazi victory over Britain. They were objectively pro-Fascist.

An essentially identical logic obtains now. Organized terrorist groups have attacked America. These groups wish the Americans to not fight. The American pacifists wish the Americans to not fight. If the Americans do not fight, the terrorists will attack America again. And now we know such attacks can kill many thousands of Americans. The American pacifists, therefore, are on the side of future mass murders of Americans. They are objectively pro-terrorist. ... That is the pacifists' position, and it is evil."......

Orwell recanted in 1944 as the conflict's outlook improved:
"I draw attention to one very widespread controversial habit – disregard of an opponent’s motives. The key-word here is 'objectively'. We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once.


This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions. For there are occasions when even the most misguided person can see the results of what he is doing. Here is a crude but quite possible illustration. A pacifist is working in some job which gives him access to important military information, and is approached by a German secret agent. In those circumstances his subjective feelings do make a difference. If he is subjectively pro-Nazi he will sell his country, and if he isn't, he won't." 
[Ed. Note: "If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions." Isn't that policy now? Obama has ordered disregard of enemy motive so we will not foresee enemy action; that is his feckful motive.]
G.K. Chesterton:

"The cheapest and most childish of all the taunts of the Pacifists is, I think, the sneer at belligerents for appealing to the God of Battles. It is ludicrously illogical, for we obviously have no right to kill for victory save when we have a right to pray for it. If a war is not a holy war, it is an unholy one--a massacre."

"I cannot see how we can literally end War unless we can end Will. I cannot think that war will ever be utterly impossible; and I say so not because I am what these people call a militarist, but rather because I am a revolutionist. Absolutely to forbid fighting is to forbid what our fathers called 'the sacred right of insurrection'. Against some decisions no self-respecting men can be prevented from appealing to fortune and to death."

"...war, like weather, cannot in itself be either criminal or saintly; and war as an action undertaken by certain persons may be either one or the other. Only in a state of fallen intelligence akin to fetish-worship could [we] ever have dropped into the habit of talking about the 'wickedness of war'."

"...that all war is physically frightful is obvious; but if that were a moral verdict, there would be no difference between a torturer and a surgeon."

From The American Chesterton Society:

"Throughout his career, Chesterton was a vigorous enemy of pacifism. What he did believe in was the right, or the duty rather, of self-defense and the defense of others.

Chesterton was also a vigorous enemy of militarism. Both ideas, he argued, were really a single idea -- that the strong must not be resisted. The militarist, he said, uses this idea aggressively as a conqueror, as a bully. The pacifist uses the idea passively by acquiescing to the conqueror and permitting himself and others around him to be bullied. Of the two, Chesterton thought the pacifist far less admirable. In fact, the pacifist, for him, was "the last and least excusable on the list of the enemies of society."

"They preach that if you see a man flogging a woman to death you must not hit him. I would much sooner let a leper come near a little boy than a man who preached such a thing."

This should not be understood as a lust for fighting. "The horror of war," Chesterton wrote, "is the sentiment of a Christian and even of a saint." But in refusing to strike any blow, pacifists announce their readiness to surrender the higher ideals of "liberty, self-government, justice, and religion.""


Margaret Thatcher:

"My statement yesterday explained the Government's decision to support the United States military action, taken in self-defence, against terrorist targets in Libya.

Of course, when we took our decision we were aware of the wider issues and of people's fears. Terrorism attacks free societies and plays on those fears. If those tactics succeed, terrorism saps the will of free peoples to resist.

We have heard some of those arguments in this country: "Don't associate ourselves with the United States," some say; "Don't support them in fighting back; we may expose ourselves to more attacks," say others.

Terrorism has to be defeated; it cannot be tolerated or side-stepped. When other ways and other methods have failed—I am the first to wish that they had succeeded—it is right that the terrorist should know that firm steps will be taken to deter him from attacking either other peoples or his own people who have taken refuge in countries that are free. [...]

The United States' action was conducted against five specific targets directly connected with terrorism. It will, of course, be for the United States Government to publish their assessment of the results. However, we now know that there were a number of civilian casualties, some of them children. It is reported that they included members of Colonel Gaddafi's own family.

The casualties are, of course, a matter of great sorrow. We also remember with sadness all those men, women and children who have lost their lives as a result of terrorist acts over the years—so many of them performed at the Libyan Government's behest. [...]

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton): "The right hon. Lady referred to the killing of innocent children and then to terrorist attacks on innocent people in various parts of the world. I think that she and I may have been brought up in the same Christian tradition. Does she remember that two wrongs do not make a right?"

The Prime Minister: Had the hon. Gentleman been listening, he would have realised that I was trying to tackle that argument in part, when I said that terrorism thrives on a free society. The terrorist uses the feelings in a free society to sap the will of civilisation to resist. If the terrorist succeeds, he has won and the whole of free society has lost. [...]

Indeed, one has to ask whether it has not been the failure to act in self-defence that has encouraged state-sponsored terrorism. Firm and decisive action may make those who continue to practise terrorism as a policy think again. [...]

The United States is our greatest ally. It is the foundation of the Alliance which has preserved our security and peace for more than a generation. In defence of liberty, our liberty as well as its own, the United States maintains in Western Europe 330,000 service men. That is more than the whole of Britain's regular forces. The United States gave us unstinting help when we needed it in the South Atlantic four years ago.

The growing threat of international terrorism is not directed solely at the United States. We in the United Kingdom have also long been in the front line. To overcome the threat is in the vital interests of all countries founded upon freedom and the rule of law.

Terrorism exploits the natural reluctance of a free society to defend itself, in the last resort, with arms. Terrorism thrives on appeasement. Of course we shall continue to make every effort to defeat it by political means. But in this case that was not enough. The time had come for action. The United States took it. Its decision was justified, and, as friends and allies, we support it."...........

[Ed. Note: Gaddafi later surrendered to George W. Bush after seeing Hussein's fate. Hillary decided to kill him anyway for her first campaign commercial. When Libya became the place where ISIS goes for Spring Break, that commercial was never filmed.]


Teddy Roosevelt:

"In the next place, the good man should be both a strong and a brave man; that is, he should be able to fight, he should be able to serve his country as a soldier, if the need arises. There are well-meaning philosophers who declaim against the unrighteousness of war. They are right only if they lay all their emphasis upon the unrighteousness. War is a dreadful thing, and unjust war is a crime against humanity. But it is such a crime because it is unjust, not because it is war. The choice must ever be in favor of righteousness, and this whether the alternative be peace or whether the alternative be war. The question must not be merely, Is there to be peace or war? The question must be, Is the right to prevail? Are the great laws of righteousness once more to be fulfilled? And the answer from a strong and virile people must be, "Yes," whatever the cost. Every honorable effort should always be made to avoid war, just as every honorable effort should always be made by the individual in private life to keep out of a brawl, to keep out of trouble; but no self-respecting individual, no self-respecting nation, can or ought to submit to wrong."

Todd Beamer:

"Let's roll."

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