Monday, July 17, 2006

"War bad. Tree pretty. And violence has never solved everything."

One more observation of the last few days: it's very easy to be a pacifist when it's not your own war.

OK, it's not exactly the observation of the last few days. Nor does it concern the Middle Eastern wars in particular - on the opposite, you find even more pacifists who are against the low-profile wars that they do not know anything about. Nor is it a just Finnish problem.

It's easy to be against a war if you don't have a stake in it one way or the other. It's also easy, and I think quite fashionable, to say "both sides are equally guilty" to show how impartial we are, even if they obviously are not. Hell, I've heard that said about the 1994 events in Rwanda. Many times. (For those who still think Hutus and Tutsis were killing each other: no, they were not. Hutus were killing Tutsis.) Somehow, nowadays it is also common to express desire for killing both parties in a war in order to stop it, which makes me feel a bit of doubt about the person's commitment to pacifism.

I wonder whether this "war is evil and all the parties are equally bad" thing is just a way for people to say "War bad. Tree pretty"?

Another thing is the people who say "violence has never solved everything". This is so obviously untrue that I always wonder how they can believe it themselves, but most of them seem to be quite sincere. Even Finns, the vast majority of whom tend to believe that it was a good idea to fight against Russia during the Winter War and the Continuation War.

It's obviously not a good idea to solve everything by violence, especially since most things are obviously not solvable that way, but violence has solved a lot of things, and had good potential to solve more. To take the most obvious example, violence has solved the problem of Nazism in Europe. Violence (the invasion by the Vietnamese) got rid of Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia. Violence (a bullet in the head of a certain old pedophile in the 60s or in the 70s) would probably have prevented Islamic revolution in Iran. The threat of violence is what prevents robbers from taking your money, rapists from raping you and people who just like to fight from punching you in the nose.

The latter problem, is, BTW, only solvable by violence so far. There are countries who for some geopolitical reason don't need an army (I can almost imagine Icelanders feeling all morally superior about having had the foresight to locate themselves in the middle of the ocean, as opposed to in the middle of the Middle East), but I have never heard of a country without police or some kind of a penal system.

Everyone is, obviously, for peace. The fighting parties in most wars are also, for the most part, for peace (there are some who are for the eternal war or for the end of the world, but they are in a minority). Of course, each one of them is for their own peace, and therefore they are waging a war in order to make the other party accept their version of peace. That is natural. The so-called peace movements who are clearly for one party's version of peace in a particular war, but who pretend to be "just for peace", however, smell of cheating. Nowadays, every time I see a demonstration for peace, I feel like asking "whose peace?".

If I were one of the leaders of a country at war I would certainly finance the peace movement on the other side.

I don't think the war in Iraq was a good idea. I have chosen a side, and as an American I think that a war in Iraq was a bad idea because if most likely does not serve American interests sufficiently in comparison to our investment of resources, and possibly does not serve our interests at all (remains to be seen). This was one of those wars where I was, in fact, participating in a demonstration against it. But I still have a very strong impression that quite a lot of people demonstrating against it are not really against the war, just for the other side.

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