Friday, February 22, 2008

Honouring and Hampering

As long as violence is perpetrated against innocent people, there will be the need for others with the ability and the will to protect them with physical force.

What disturbs me, particularly in the debate over Afghanistan but also more generally, is the tendency of some people to continually frame the question in World War II terms. They talk about honour and glory and military might, and they denounce peacekeeping and security as unmanly pursuits advocated by Nancy-boys and tourists. Worse, they continue to cling to the notion that wars can still be won through the application of bigger armies and superior firepower.

Surely Vietnam should have disabused us all of that notion....

We must begin by acknowledging a fundamental paradox: that those who are directly involved in the military and military culture have a vested interest in their own continued existence. If peace were to actually become the norm, all these guys would be out of a job.

Therefore, while it is vital to have experienced members of the military involved in foreign policy decisions, we cannot assume that their advice is necessarily going to help advance the cause of peace. So when a Colonel or a General says we should follow a particular course of action in, say, Afghanistan, as impressive as their credentials might be, we need to be mindful that even with the best of intentions, their advice may simply propose the best course of action for the military, and not for us as a country or for the people we are trying to help.

We also need to recognize that the military can only be one part of any long-lasting solution to world violence and conflict. Simply marching in waving the biggest dick stick not only continues to fail to bring the desired results, but in most cases exacerbates the situation.
[via Runesmith's Canadian Content]

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