The truth is that not all problems in the world can be solved. A requirement for peace is to have at least two willing parties who are willing to talk when a conflict is pending or when two parties are in active combat.

Take Syria for example, it is questionable if a civil war was avoidable, or whether or not any outside force could stop the killing. The best that can happen is to wait for the parties themselves to ask for help from the outside. In fact, sometimes the best course of action is no action at all. Patience is often required. Civil Wars are just messy, with little or no way out of the war until you have a victor. Just picking sides on who is to be helped is often problematic. If you pick the losing side to help, the victor will not be exactly happy with you. Self determination, is not a bad option, when dealing with a conflict that is impossible to fix. It is wiser to do nothing than ramp up the stakes by increasing the fire power of the combatants, and thereby increasing the kill rate.

The United Nations is the proper place for the authorities to seek a resolution of a dispute. The UN works better when a conflict does not include one of the major powers. The problem is that if one of the Security Council members is involved in the dispute, a veto by one of the major powers shuts down any hope of progress in a dispute involving one of those members, whether directly involved or if one of the nations involved is a proxy state in the sphere of influence of one of the Security Council members. The United Nations needs to reform the rules of the Security Council before any real progress can be made.

For all of those chicken hawks out there, do you really think you could have sent in the 82nd Airborne to defuse the situation in the Crimea or Eastern Ukraine? Again, real economic pain needs to be given to any country who commits aggression. Patience and restraint is a wiser course of action. Immediate results should never be expected. Diplomacy for it to work requires time and an honest effort at resolving differences.  Rash action can lead to the lighting of a powder keg, with a lot of unintended consequences. There is nothing glorious about war. What is the result of war is nothing other than death and destruction.

One of McNamara’s lessons to avoid the fog of war is to allow your adversary an opportunity to save face. That is one of the things John F. Kennedy did in cooling down a dire and dangerous situation when the preservation of the planet was in the balance, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Cool heads and a steady hand is much better than loose lips and an itchy trigger finger. 

The fact is that the world is still suffering from the bad decisions that were made after World War I. Three Empires had ended, the Ottoman Empire, the Hapsburg’s,and the Russian Empire under the Tsars. As a result of the changed world globe, the victors of World War I, created new countries that were formerly part of the empires that had collapsed. The new countries did not have the common interests that are often required to have a successful nation. They were filled with people of different religious faiths and tribal loyalties. England and France used the tactic of divide and conquer to keep the natives quiet and peaceful. Now many years later we are still as a world community suffering from nations that are inhabited by people who have distinct cultural differences, which encourages the type of conflict we see today. Also, as part of history, we have seen, many kings and dictatorships in the Middle East for example. The world will have a hard time dealing with the turmoil that former colonial powers set in motion. The hope is that through the United Nations, collective security and creative diplomacy, things can get better. But America and the world community should realize that the divisions that we see now were created a long time ago. The old strategy of containment is an alternative, in attempting to confine the problems to one country instead of seeing turmoil spread to the entire region. New dangers abound and require workman like efforts to diminish the prospect of further disasters.
We see Iran and Saudi Arabia compete for power and influence. Russia and their leader Putin wants a greater say in their region.
Regional disputes should be discussed between the local countries rather than depending America to somehow solve a problem that perhaps is not in America’s interest, or what might be more successfully done is to have America set the tone and oversee a peace conference that will require the country’s in the area to settle their own disagreements.
The next war some leader wants to start, we should require that, that person to be out front leading the effort. Perhaps if the old men who start wars would find out what they are really about, we would have fewer of them and fewer soldiers would come home damaged by their experience. We have seen far too many of the flower of our youth die or be left different and damaged from combat. There are too many crosses across too many fields and countries. War is in general good for nothing, but death and a barren land left behind with shells for buildings and new legs and arms for those who have left their limbs in a foreign land and on a foreign battle field. It is time to find another alternative to war. Let us all give peace a chance.



  1. Pingback: In Defense of the truth | From guestwriters·

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