Mon, Jul 05, 2004 - Page 8 News List


War, peace and pacifism

Concerning the letter from Chen Jia-ching (Letter, June 27, page 8) in Oakland, California, I agree completely with the notion that world peace is the most worthy of goals. It is the aspiration of billions around the world, myself included.

Chen states in his letter "it may seem that there are no easy answers to our global conflicts, and that we who advocate disarmament are naive." I totally agree with both statements. There are no easy answers, and Chen and those who advocate unilateral disarmament are naive.

This is not to criticize the concept of disarmament, which by itself is a lofty notion. It is to suggest that disarmament alone will not suffice in this rough and tumble world where rogues and scoundrels have access to nation-destroying weapons, and lack the conscience and civil understanding to inhibit their use, even against a "disarmed" foe.

War will not, by itself, end terrorism; but pacifism will not appease terrorists, unless the idea is to redefine "peace" as "surrender." The things that terrorists want are so ruthless and extreme, to appease them would be to end civilization as we know it. Sacrificing civilization in the name of peace makes no sense to billions of people. To be sure, communication, discussion, conciliation and justice are concepts that will contribute to solving global conflicts. But, as Chen conceded, there are no easy answers, particularly when the adversaries include a ruthless regime based on raw power, brutality and tyranny.

As for conflict in the Taiwan Strait, does Chen truly believe that if the US was not committed to defending Taiwan, that if Taiwan could not defend herself, China would hesitate for one nanosecond to pulverize Taiwan? It would not. It would be wonderful if China would entertain peace with Taiwan, but the only "peace" China has offered is the peace of communist captivity. For tens of millions, that is no peace at all.

Sitting in the anti-war locus in Oakland, it is easy to scoot over to Berkeley or Marin, or elsewhere in the Bay Area and find tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of people who share the same views. They are enlightened views to be sure. But there are billions out there around the globe in the midst of raw conflict who experience the ruthless determination and sheer brutality of evil every single day. Those forces of evil do not cower in the face of peace, they quail only in the face of ruthless opposition by civilized society, and that society's actual ability to destroy them in battle. That is the unfortunate truth, the truth the naive and the timid do not wish to (or pretend not to) hear. You might ask the terrified millions in the Sudan whether they would like the UN to send 50,000 peace activists, or 50,000 armed peacekeepers to protect against the janjaweed scourge.

Mahatma Gandhi led a nation of 600 million to throw out the British using non-violent civil disobedience. Of course, even in that mostly non-violent conflict, tens of thousands perished. But the bottom line is that civil disobedience worked because British society is based on precepts of morality and democracy developed after centuries of conflict, and the progress of civil and democratic society. In other words, the British people have a conscience. The same cannot be said of Osama Bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Kim Jong-Il, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), and others of that ilk, who neither have nor believe in the same "conscience." Take Darfur or Tibet as examples of the fate of the defenseless against terrorism, or worse, eugenics.

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