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Just something I wanted to share

Al Martinez is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.  This piece appeared on Friday, 18 August 2006.  Read it if you're so inclined.  And if any of you are artists, here's a project for you.

WHAT attracts world leaders to war is its simplicity.

You don't need a university degree to declare war, or an IQ over 74 to actually engage in one. You just kind of close your eyes and close your mind and start swinging. You don't even have to know how to read or write.

Happily, there's also no need for a valid reason to get the bombs falling. Truth isn't a factor. Wars have existed for the most uncomplicated of triggers: stepping on a toe, stepping over a border, stepping on a holy icon, stepping on a dream.

Contrary to Mel Gibson's drunken assertion, Jews don't start all wars. Anyone can play. It was a lot of God-fearing Christians who kicked off the one we're currently in, promising to make the world safe and ending up with a world crouched in fear.

Although getting out of a war isn't so easy, getting into one is a snap.

To illustrate, I have devised an explanation so simple that with the proper cartoons, it could be in a children's book.

Imagine, if you will, contending world leaders so pumped up with power that, after a lot of swaggering and name-calling, it becomes a matter of:

They hit us.

So we hit them.

They strike with an open hand.

We respond with a clenched fist.

They hit us until we cry.

We hit them until they scream.

They hit us until we hurt.

We hit them until they bleed.

They claim they're the good guys.

We claim we're the good guys.

We say they're terrorists.

They say they're patriots.

We intensify the fighting.

They intensify the fighting.

We want a cease-fire.

They want a cease-fire.

They stop fighting.

We stop fighting.

Our cannons go silent.

Their cannons go silent.

They keep us in their gun sights.

We keep them in our gun sights.

We have picnics and enjoy life.

They have picnics and enjoy life.

They laugh in the rain.

We laugh in the rain.

But we're not happy.

And they're not happy.

Pressure increases here to fight and win.

Pressure increases there to fight and win.

And then …

A bomb blows up here.

A bomb blows up there.

They blame us.

We blame them.

They hit us.

We hit them.

They kill hundreds.

We kill thousands.

They torture us.

We torture them.

They kill civilians.

We kill civilians.

We die in agony.

They die in agony.

We pray to God for help.

They pray to God for help.

God ignores us.

God ignores them.

Our children die in flames.

Their children die in flames.

We're not going to quit until we win.

They're not going to quit until they win.

We escalate the war.

They escalate the war.

The U.N. condemns them.

The U.N. condemns us.

They claim they're right.

We claim we're right.

They fire nuclear missiles.

We fire nuclear missiles.

They develop a defense.

We develop a defense.

They breach our defense.

We breach their defense.

They annihilate our armies.

We annihilate their armies.

They destroy our nation.

We destroy their nation.

We win the war.

They win the war.

We lose the war.

They lose the war.

We live in caves.

They live in caves.

Radiation kills us.

Radiation kills them.

One man survives for us.

One man survives for them.

He doesn't like our man.

Our man doesn't like him.

He invades our man's cave.

We invade their man's cave.

He steals our food.

We steal his food.

He shakes a club at us.

We shake a bigger club at him.

He roars with rage.

We roar with rage.

He hits us.

We hit him….


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 20th, 2006 02:14 pm (UTC)
Yep, that's how it seems, doesn't it? :(

Al Martinez forgot a few things though:

We kill innocent civilians and maim children.

So they kill innocent civilians and maim children.

We conscript our youth as cannon fodder.

They conscript their youth as cannon-fodder.

We kill our own troops mistaking them for the enemy.

They kill their own troops under the impression they were spying for us.

I've just been reading about the Duke of Wellington. In his old age he built or funded a number of French orphanages, because, as he put it, he "involuntarily orphaned so many French children".
Aug. 21st, 2006 03:21 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading and commenting. And, unhappily, your additions are spot-on.

I'll try to find something cheerier for my next post.
Aug. 21st, 2006 12:51 pm (UTC)
You don't have to find something cheerier!

if you want to be really gloomy, take a look at the NYT for today and see what they reveal about pedophiles. *ickies*
Aug. 21st, 2006 07:11 am (UTC)
Oh hurrah - I'm glad to know that our PM (Canada's Stephen Harper) is just following an age-old tradition - breaking Canada's long-standing neutrality in the Middle East by saying Israel had a right to defend itself with its 'measured response', and now we're sending relief to Lebanon. I'd like to be able to call that a conscience, but I can't.

And what emerges from this whole back-and-forth dialogue? The simplist root of the problem: US vs. THEM. We don't need 'us' and 'them', we just need us, maybe it would be better if we said all of us, forget any mention of 'them' because there is no 'them'. War doesn't come from nowhere - it comes from being taught 'us' vs. 'them'. What needs to be done is not some nice declarative peace deal, but some fundamental dialogue change. It's not the ministries of defence and security that need to be most involved here, it's the ministry of education and foreign/regional affairs. There needs to be more dialogue of peaceful people, and that ethos needs to be passed on to subsequent generations. I'd love to find if there are any Israeli/Palestinian or Israeli/Other-countries teachers associations that are working towards implementing a cirriculum that emphasises living with and loving differences, being able to have two different peoples within one same state, with joint representation, each possessing their own culture, and each working together towards one state and region where they can still be different, but still live together. Actually, I'd really love to see an Israeli and a Palestinian history textbook. Shouldn't just what I think might be there before I see it...

Oops, sorry for the ramble!
Aug. 21st, 2006 12:50 pm (UTC)
People need to be taught that war is a problem, not a solution. It's too easy just to resort to force to settle things in a way that suits oneself.

What I find most chilling is that war benefits some people - a select few - allowing them to make money and gain influence. While this sort of profiteering exists, it will be almost impossible to end war.
Aug. 21st, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, good point about unlearning war. Swords into ploughshares... somehow it's seems no one told the politicians... of course, as you also say, it's the money thing. We'll have to unlearn greed at the same time. It's like the same damn thing with oil - the only reason we haven't gone completely green, because we can do it, no doubt about it, but the oil people have the money, and they will fight tooth and nail to keep it. Which just makes me go: kjsafdljdsafkllkjfdsalkjfdsalkjfdsa
Aug. 27th, 2006 03:41 pm (UTC)
I second that!
Aug. 28th, 2006 04:57 am (UTC)
Speaking of keeping the oil rich rich, check out Who Killed the Electric Car?
Aug. 29th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC)
Well, ya learn something new everyday. I hadn't heard about the electric car until now. It's basically about who's earning abscene amounts of money for a scare resource, isn't it? Grr!

IMO, the electric car would work very well in the third world and in my country where many people are poor. I'm feeling the pinch with the price of gas. i wonder how the rest of the population is managing?
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )