Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, 10 April 2008. (Credit: Seyedkhan / Wikimedia Commons)
The perception of war’s necessity derives from (or at least corresponds to) a narrow view of the adversary. Enemies are imagined in caricature as the embodiment of evil. The crude image is an easy projection of a people’s collective anxieties.
A predisposition toward diplomacy and peacemaking requires a broader construction. It is more difficult to reflect on an adversary’s humanity than to react to a frightful caricature. The primitive impulse favors fighting over negotiating.
The debate between President Obama and his critics over how to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb is illustrative. (more…)
Protester holds a “War is Not the Answer” poster from the Friends Committee on National Legislation at the March 20, 2010 anti-war protest in Washington, DC. (Credit: Rrenner / Wikimedia Commons)
The slogan “War is Not the Answer” is occasionally spotted by alert bumper-sticker watchers. It is a nearly extinct species, especially in Red State America. Almost all sightings are in the small remainder of Blue States, or so it seems. The slogan’s shrinking habitat is a bad omen for the cause of peace. It’s a warning sign of war’s irrelevance. Few care, and fewer can imagine an alternative answer to war.
Warmongering is commonplace in contemporary America. It is a ritual that sustains the mythic vision of the war state. One does not have to look long or far to find recent examples of the ritualized call to arms. On March 13, for instance, Joshua Muravchik editorialized in the Washington Post under the headline “War with Iran is probably our best option.” (more…)