I am of a time and a class that sees war as a crime against humans, other living things and, given present technologies, the earth itself. But what if war is seen as just another economic and political option? Most people, the vast majority of people, those people from whom the young men and women come to fill the ranks of the militaries of all sides, cannot fully appreciate how those who willfully drive the chariots of war think and believe.
War is the action that offers the appearance of total domination, total victory – victory without compromise. In equal proportion victory is obtained by absolute destruction of all aspects of the other. To start wars is always an act of desperation or madness, and often both. War is the cousin of intimidation, the child of greed. War is the father of starvation and dismembered bodies, the mother of despair. War is also the sport of heroes, the study of madmen. War is the tool of kings, a tool to take what is controlled by others and to control their own subjects. And if war comes from a place were there seems not to be a king, then there is one there hidden in the shadows of another name.
Those who seek to war always have a larger goal than life, or at least the lives of others. It is worth starving and sickening to death a million Iraqi children; there is a larger purpose. So said the good mother Albright. Stack the bodies high in Baghdad. So said and did Alexander; there was a larger purpose. Eric the Red, Hitler, Andrew Jackson, Mao, James Polk, U. S. Grant, Hirohito, Guy de Lusignan, and many thousands more all had a higher purpose than life: they wanted something. They were all quite mad in their desire for something greater than life. They willingly traded the lives of others for land, for wealth, for ideas, for their own glorious posterity.
If you have a higher purpose, then the dismembered soldier, the unlucky innocent and the grieving survivor are well worth the price. They are in no way an argument against a war, just an inconvenience or a cost of business. George Bush sleeps well; he even says so with the pride of a man with a higher purpose. His million plus victims cannot scream loudly enough to reach his ear. He began with tormenting animals, branded initiates in college, oversaw executions in Texas and graduated to war as king. Dick Cheney, the other king, does not sleep as well. His higher purpose is more difficult to fulfill. It is not the cost of doing business that disturbs him, but how to do more.
For people like these, war is just another option to get the things that they want. There are no arguments about life to sway them, only arguments of purpose and possibility. The U. S. constitution recognizes this reality and requires that a representative body be the only part of our government that can take our most vital young people to war. And yet this too has now fallen prey to a higher purpose, to a higher purpose than the life in an almost completely lifeless universe.Those who would take us to war tell of us of the world’s dangers and the need to remove them. They hold up the examples of “good” wars, wars against true evil. But they do not tell us that it was only those same lies told by some other king that started those “good” wars in the first place. They don’t tell us of the higher purposes that make our existence secondary to their own. Ultimately that is what makes war a normal option.