Even without the use of nuclear bombs, our so-called conventional weapons, including napalm and depleted uranium, wreaked havoc on Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Serbia, Vietnam and North Korea. We had little understanding of their histories and cultures, their fears and their needs.
(December 20, 2017, Texas, Sri Lanka Guardian) Unfortunately, the hope for peace and justice on earth and goodwill to all seems to be receding with each passing year. US politicians, particularly the neo-cons and neo-libs in Washington DC, seem to respond with a bah, humbug to this desire. These neo-folks, like other Americans, are people who have not directly experienced the ravages, destruction and killing of war here and are thus all too quick to ignore diplomacy. Instead they resort to the military in response to challenges, whether they are real or manufactured.
There are a number of potential flash points where, if the situation is mishandled, the potential for widespread death and devastation is present. In a few cases, the potential conflict could go nuclear. North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, Iran, the South China Sea, and along the Russian border with Eastern Europe are areas of particular concern. Making matters worse, these neo-folks also act as if they don’t understand that the use of only a small portion of the nuclear weapons on earth could kill tens-to-hundreds of millions, further destabilize the climate and imperil the world’s food supply.
Even without the use of nuclear bombs, our so-called conventional weapons, including napalm and depleted uranium, wreaked havoc on Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Serbia, Vietnam and North Korea. We had little understanding of their histories and cultures, their fears and their needs. Instead, the leaders of these nations were portrayed as being evil and this portrayal magically made horrific US war crimes against civilians acceptable.
Apparently we, the U.S. public, long ago reached the point that widespread killing of the other became so acceptable that it didn’t even warrant discussion. According to J. Robert Oppenheimer (father of the atomic bomb), before the approval of the use of the atomic bomb, Secretary of War Henry Stimson struggled with the moral issues raised by WWII and expressed dismay at the “appalling” lack of conscience and compassion ushered in by the war. Stimson stated that he was disturbed by the “complacency, the indifference, and the silence with which we greeted the mass bombings in Europe, and, above all, Japan.”
After the initial use of atomic weapons, Admiral William Leahy, effectively Chief of Staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, commented: “It is my opinion that the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”
In 1948 General Omar Bradley said: “Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.”
Our devaluation of diplomacy is reflected in our lack of ambassadors in many of these nations that we portray as enemies. This lack of diplomatic representation makes it difficult to enter into discussions or negotiations. Additionally, we tend to view things only from our perspective and this reduces the chance for success of any negotiation.
If we are indeed serious about achieving peace and justice on earth and extending goodwill to all, we must first accept that those opposed to our policies are fellow human beings. They are not lesser beings. The Golden Rule, treat others as you wish to be treated, must apply to these other people.
The other have the same human rights as we do and the same desire to provide a good life for their families. This includes having food, housing, jobs, sanitation and a safe water supply, health care, a clean environment, educational opportunities and electricity.
We must also stress diplomacy first and understand that compromise is not a dirty word. We cannot demand that the other comply with what we say. We need to try to understand why the other has taken its position.
In addition, we must reduce our military spending, particularly on weapons that don’t work or are not necessary. The US spending on the military and its related areas dwarf the combined military spending of nations labeled as our enemies. Instead of spending on destructive weapons, spend on programs that are constructive and increase our security — the items listed above.
Perhaps then we can finally achieve true peace, justice and goodwill to all.
Ron Forthofer is a retired professor of biostatistics from the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston and was a Green Party candidate for Congress and also for governor of Colorado.