Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Horror of Pre-Emptive War

Will someone please explain to me the justification for pre-emptive, or preventative war; the kind that (mistakenly) got us into Iraq, or the one that everyone seems to be clamoring for that will get us into Iran? (Much less the issue of pre-emptive drone attacks, a murderous tactic that usually gets a pass because "we don't have to put US boots on the ground"?)

Years ago, I remember shuddering with chagrin when I saw "Raiders of the Lost Ark" for the first time. There was Harrison Ford, inheritor of the hero mantle of John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, facing an Arab warrior with a big sword. Harrison Ford mulled over his options. Earlier heroes would have engaged the heavy with his fists, or grabbed a nearby sword and gone mano-a-mano. But Harrison became a MODERN hero. After exhibiting a shrug that seemed to say: "What am I, a schmuck?" he pulled out a gun and shot the Arab before the Arab actually did anything. The audience cheered in agreement: Harrison had made the right preventative-war choice!

"Honor is gone," I thought in that movie theater.

The rules of civilized engagement are gone. The old heroes--and their value system--are dead. The need for obvious and tangible justification of self-defense is gone. (The Arab hadn't even swung his sword yet. He had just aggressively brandished it. What happened to the the old Western hero rule that the heavy had to pull out his gun and SHOOT FIRST before the hero responded in defensive retaliation?)   

Where does the logic of self-defense begin bump into the possibilities of paranoia?  Because someone says they hate us and want to wipe us off the face of the earth; does that mean we can attack them immediately and indiscriminately? If someone says that "they are going to beat the shit our of me," does that means I can legally and should punch them out? ("Sucker punch them," as we used to call it on the neighborhood streets?) "Stand Your Ground" (SEE Trayvon Martin) gone crazy?

If the challengers are taller, wider and more in shape than me, and just glare at me, is a gun justified? How about an AK47? A tank? A private security drone? I remember Nikita Khrushchev saying at the UN and about the US: "We will bury you!" Does that mean the US should have attacked Russia immediately; wiped them off the face of the map with our superior nukes?

Waiting for an attack before attacking back is not just a matter or honor; it is a matter of logic; of civilization. Being attacked first before attacking back is born of the necessity of defining pariah states...and legality. The law and its parameters--and the observance of those parameters--is (or so it has always seemed in America) a core condition for democracy and maintaining a world order.

Cynicism and self-interest must not define all actions. We must not re-define the Golden Rule into such a pre-emptive way: "Do unto others before they do it to you...and especially if you have the power and can get away with it." In such a world, there is no edge to the jungle; all is jungle. In such a world, without a common set of rules--where we believe that an initial war-like action demands strict and certifiable proof for the need for retaliatory self-defense; we are all living in a Western town of heavies, where the law has gone and all is ruled by anarchy and gunfire.

In such a world each person and group will soon make up their own rules, rationales and justifications. It will soon become a total world of initial "sucker punches". And don't tell me that that "atomic bombs" and "terrorist non-states" demand such anticipatory preventative caution. In fact, these horrors and vagaries demand just the opposite: a stricter adherence to a heroic code...less all human and group behavior--including human self-annihilation--is potentially justified under the guise of "possible" attack. Suicidal Masada must not become the template of human civilization.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Where Have I Been For Six Weeks?

On February 18th, I fell down the stairs at home and fractured my hip and femur. On February 20th I was operated on.

I remained in that hospital for three days. I was then transferred to a nearby rehab hospital where I remained for three weeks. The therapists were wonderful.

I returned home fourteen days ago and have been learning with the aid of home-visit therapists and a walker how to get around...again...including getting up and down the same set of stairs and in and out of my favorite shower! I now can also get in and out of a car (someone else drives) and I am no longer housebound. I am back teaching.

I can also now sit at my computer for a stretch of time without pain. (Typing in my bed just didn't attract me!)

To those of you who have continued to search this blog, I say thank you and hope to repay your loyalty with better blogs.

To those of you who have gone to more punctual pastures, I hope I will visit me again one day.

No matter which category you fit in, life--and blogging--and new thoughts--continue.

(SEE tomorrow for a new post!)