Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Price of War, the Cost of Peace; 3 

Originally published in the Old Gold and Black, Wake Forest University, October 10, 2002.

Last week I discussed further the victim/aggressor cycle, as well as the path to peace model and conceptualized its strengths and weaknesses. Then I looked at how it was being implemented in the Great Britain and Northern Ireland conflict and discussed the measures of its success. This week, for the final installment, I would like to write about how this all affects the United States of America. What is our nation’s role when conflict breaks out in the world? How can our nation stop perpetuating the cycle?

With regard to the conflict in Israel and Palestine, there is no stopping U.S. involvement. Regardless of whether anyone believes we have a right to be involved in that conflict, we are now inexorably intertwined in the conflict itself, and hopefully the solution. The first step the U.S. can take towards stopping violence, if that indeed is our goal, is to behave equally and equitably towards both parties involved. Dialogue needs to occur between Sharon, Arafat, and leaders of Hamas and al-Aqsa. Before any lasting peace can be accomplished, these groups are going to have to be satisfied. If the U.S. has taken upon itself to be involved in the peace process, then its actions need to reflect that desire.

Unabashed favoritism towards Israel by the U.S. estranges Palestinian leaders from the peace talks. It was, however, a step in the right direction when President Bush condemned Sharon’s tank presence surrounding Arafat’s Ramallah compound. I was very pleased to see that President Bush could identify that as being counterproductive. It is my sincere hope that the Bush administration will continue in this vein, bring Sharon and Arafat back to the table, and successfully mediate a lasting peace involving the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state. If peace is our goal, then that is what is required.

To move this concept even closer to home, let us look at the situation between the U.S. and Iraq. What can the U.S. do to prevent violence and bring about a peaceful conclusion? Warning: I am about to suggest something radical. The U.S. should get out of the Middle East and stop controlling Middle East oil. The U.S. is on the top of the world food chain now and Middle Eastern states are weak and not unified. This, I am afraid, will not always be the case. Bush and his administration should be mindful of the future consequences of the current proposed actions.
As the days go on it is becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. is not thinking far enough into the future and is planning on invading Iraq. Before I continue with my comments on this issue, I want to make it perfectly clear that I believe Saddam Hussein to be very bad person, capable of horrible acts. I firmly believe that he must be relieved of his position as political leader of Iraq. However, I see neither invasion nor economic sanctions as being the best route to that end.
If we engage in war with Iraq, it is necessary for everyone in this country to understand what that will mean, both for us and for the Iraqi people. It will not be a repeat of the Gulf War. Tanks will not square off against one another across the desert. SCUD missile sites and radar installations in the desert will not be the primary targets of our bombs. Saddam did have one sane thing to say in regard to this proposition - it will be “a fierce war”. Our planes will bomb cities in an effort to hit Saddam, and civilians will die by the multitude. Our soldiers will march on towns and cities in a search for Saddam, and the blood of civilians with stain the streets. I have no doubt that our military is far superior to the military might of Iraq, but I do not see us using it in this way as being the best possible course of action.

Since the end of the Gulf War 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of ten have died of starvation and easily curable diseases. This is the result of our economic sanctions, but Saddam still rules. When presented with this fact and asked if she thought it was worth the price, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright said, “It is a difficult choice, but I think it is worth the price.” Half a million children! To quote Will Campbell from last week’s University Chapel service, “Dare we talk of terrorism?” It is therefore clear to me that economic sanctions are worthless in this case, only hurting the innocent while the guilty feast.

This type of attack will only perpetuate the victim/aggressor cycle the U.S. has created in Iraq. I am afraid of what will happen if we attack. If it is true that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, be they nuclear, biological, or chemical, then what better excuse does he need to use them than an invasion? Even if he has no delivery system capable of sending one across the Atlantic, he can deploy them against our Middle East bases and troops. If that happens I fear the U.S. will only retaliate in kind, trading blow for blow. That must be prevented at all costs! I believe that once one nuclear weapon is let fly, the sky will be darkened with them.

The truth of the matter is that the U.S. is a great nation, but a young nation by the world’s standards. To some, the U.S. right now is going through the mood swings typical of a teenage child. We cannot stay a teenage nation for much longer; we must mature and we must start behaving in a socially, politically, and economically responsible manner. There is no better time to begin than now. No one should ever have to believe that the death of half a million children is worth any price, any cause. No one should have to believe that life is so bad that death is preferable. No one should be convicted enough that they are worthless human beings to perform a suicide bombing. These are all indications on the world’s social barometer that something is grievously wrong. Instead of ignoring those signs and perpetuating their cause, the U.S. should behave like the great nation it is and seek peace, not war. The price of war has been too terrible. It is now time to invest in peace.

This editorial was answered with an editorial by David Dolgin, found here.


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