Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Si vis pacem, para bellum.

Alan Caruba's latest...................

The Really Big Picture

Imagine yourself as a winged creature, free to fly, free to soar above the Earth, moving effortlessly from continent to continent, to hover over great cities and tiny villages, crossing oceans, crossing deserts, visiting the North and South Poles. That would be the really big picture, wouldn’t it?

If you could do that, what would you see? For one thing you’d see a planet with an astonishing population of six billion human beings, more than at any other time in history.

For them, it is not a clash of economic systems that matters, but having enough money to pay for food, having a clean place in which to live, and having a life that involves family. Rich or poor, in most of the world television shows them what others have. What they want, however, is their own definition of comfort.

The world, however, is unfair. In wealthy westernized nations, most people havean astonishing level of comfort, but there are the poor, the homeless, and the less fortunate for whatever reason. Frequently the reason is a high level of corruption endemic to their society and/or government.

In places like the African and Asian continent, masses of the population live in an unimaginable poverty, often in nations that are resource-rich, but run by horrid people. What they have are a family and a tribe. There are often invisible barriers to everything beyond that. Family and tribe also describe much of the Middle East as well.

Mostly, though, as you soar above the world, despite the disease and poverty, there is peace. An astounding amount of peace exists throughout the world. What "wars" exist are relatively low-key affairs. While Americans debate their military presence in Iraq, obsessed with daily events there and eager to leave the Middle East, much of that nation functions without bloodshed.

When you circle the region, it is clear that the "wars" in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon are relatively small, individual firefights, not massive armies moving back and forth across the terrain. The weapon of choice is the individual suicide bomber. They are surrounded by neighbor states free of warfare.

When you fly in wider circles, the war that transfixes the news in America recedes as one goes in any direction. Look down and see Turkey is at peace. Europe is at peace. Russia is at peace. China is at peace. India is at peace. Southeast Asia, Australia, and, crossing the Pacific, the whole of South America is at peace.

Where are the wars? In terms of how war was once defined there are none.

My generation grew up in a world at war. America put massive armies, navies and air forces in Europe and in the Pacific. Not just whole cities, but whole continents saw destruction on a scale never experienced in history. Then, one day after two bombs had obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war was over.

Despite being weary, America threw itself into another war within a few years, seeking to protect South Korea from communist dictatorship. Nearly 37,000 men died in that war. From 1945 to 1989, the nation fought a "Cold War" with a Soviet empire whose only legacy is the millions it enslaved and killed. For seven years during that time, we sacrificed the lives of over 57,000 more Americans in a tiny nation called Vietnam though few recall why anymore.

That was what a world at war looked like during much of the last century. Massed armies. Massive destruction. Death for civilian and soldier alike calculated in the thousands and the hundreds of thousands.

Today, there are no massed armies facing each other on vast battlefields. There are only blustering men urging people to die for the promise of a paradise they cannot deliver on Earth. They cannot deliver enough food. They cannot deliver a thriving economy. They cannot deliver a better life.

These few sad, mad people cannot defeat the West unless we utterly lose the will not just to fight them, but also to annihilate them. We are perilously close to no longer even wanting to fight them!

They cannot defeat the sweep and flow of global trade the likes of which no one could imagine a score of years ago. They cannot defeat the spread of knowledge, of the awareness that out there, beyond family, beyond the tribe, there are places of amazing wealth and, for those willing to work for it, the opportunity to have some of it.

There is no need to cower in the face of "terrorist" videos showing an old man dressed in the garb of the seventh century. Understand that this old man and the young ones he has recruited are a pathetic enemy, an army of lost hopes, and no future. Must they be defeated? Yes. The waging of war in our times is a terribly costly enterprise. The failure to wage war, however, will come with an even higher price, our freedom.

What few Americans grasp is that the greatest export of the United States is protection. We protect the vital sea lanes of the world so commerce can safely move goods around, so natural resources for energy and everything else can reach their destinations. We protect our allies against the threats of their neighbors. We project power because, in a dangerous world, it is the only thing that insures peace.

The world is mostly at peace, but as an ancient sage once said, "Si vis pacem, para bellum." If you want peace, plan for war.

We can do that. We can prevail. We can and should plan for peace. It’s breaking out all over the world.

Do you agree with Alan's article, or is your view of the world different?

1 comment:

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I think it's a great article and I agree with much of it. But "small wars" are not "small " to those caught up in them. And I don't agree with the USA's motives for "protection": they are trying to protect the capitalist system [not that I think there's anything wrong in that, for what are the alternatives?] and, above all, themselves. I do agree that, in Melanie Phillips' words, there are many who just do not "get it" regarding the terrorist threat and that we are perilously close to not fighting it.