Not long ago my very conservative friend, who gets all his news from Fox and the Washington Times, asked if war is necessary for peace to happen. A few days later I read a column by James Pinkerton entitled “Give war a chance: Sometimes it works,” which seemed to be a slightly tongue in cheek (I hope) take on what the long dead Prussian war geek Carl von Clausewitz might have to say about the various wars being waged today. The two go together and demand something of a response. To my friend, and with Clausewitz to back me up, the answer is Yes, war is necessary for peace to happen if…
It is necessary if the leaders of country A are convinced that peace is possible only on their terms, and that if the unreasoning and obstinate leadership of country B opposes their terms, then the only way to peace is to eliminate the leadership of country B and establish the terms of peace on the remaining people. If some, or all, of the remaining people of country B are unwilling to accept the terms of peace, then, for the sake of peace, they also must be eliminated. It’s as easy and utilitarian as that. No serious moral questions need be asked. Jeremy Bentham would love it, and every empire worth its salt has practiced it. Of course bigger, badder empires always seem to come along to disrupt the hard won peace, but, hey, that’s life. That’s why guys like Clausewitz are still studied for their mastery of war.
If you don’t like the notion of country A and country B just substitute corporations A & B, or gangs A & B, or family members A & B. It pretty much works the same for all.
I wonder what would happen if the leaders of the nations, or corporations or gangs or you and me, ever took God seriously? We are entering the season of Advent, which starts us off with reflections on the last judgment before it brings us to the cradle in Bethlehem. Now would be a good time to reflect a little on these things.