Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Politics of War

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Politics is really nothing more than war with words.  Carl von Clausewitz wrote a book, On War, where he said, War is the continuation of politics by other means.“  I would recommend this book but be prepared to read over 700 pages.  I have yet to finish the book, and often misplace it, on purpose.  That may be a subconscious choice to assist in my true measure of avoidance.  The topic, however, is of great interest to me, having read The Book of the Five Rings, by Miyamoto Musashi and the before mentioned The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, as well as the Prince by Machiavelli.

The topic of war and it's less violent cousin, politics, has always intrigued me.  War to some can be summed up as individual duals, all taking place at the same time.  Those thoughts were from Clausewitz, helping all of us to understand the progression toward war and hopefully giving us the means to scale back our political battles, that left unchecked would result in all out war.

I remember a fight I had with my older brother.  It’s hard now to remember what the fight was over but I do recall it had something to do with a Frisbee.  Either I was inept at my attempts to throw the toy or my brother was totally impatient with having to move to retrieve my errant throws.  Regardless of the reasons for the war, we were fully engaged in hand to hand combat.  

It started with words, politics, and soon exploded into war, me the younger and more agile and my brother, stronger and the more experienced fighter.  I somehow encircled his neck with my arm and put him in a vise-like headlock.  The vise-like comment is my attempt to make me look good.  But that’s how it ended, with me squeezing his neck, not choking, I understood the difference from a few years in Judo and really did not want to “choke him out”, I wanted to subdue him and take away his desire for war.

Just like politics, we started with words and those words turned to violence.  Our mutual goals were to subdue the other and I just happened to be able to prevent him from subduing me, a very good thing for me.  

Politics is not always an individual endeavor and its consequences are often just as disruptive as war, but without the physical destruction.   War, in like measure is not always a battle among armies and does not have to be destructive.  The great, ancient Captain Sun Tzu said,  The Supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”.  This is all well and good but the objective of war is “The ultimate military purpose of war is the destruction of the enemy's ability to fight and will to fight”  As quoted from the United States objective on war.

When combined with other objectives, and I must point out that no one  agrees on what those objectives of war should be, but on reflection of why we go to war and why we send our men and women to die, that objective should be to minimize our enemies efforts to wage war against us and remove their ability to make war and sustain a war, not simply be subject to another's desire for power and control

As a country, you either protect your citizens or you do not.   Many countries sidestep this decision through the treaty process, relying upon larger, more influential countries to shoulder the burden of defense.  The United States is a perfect example of providing those services to smaller, less able countries like Japan, or South Korea and many others who are dependent on the resources of the US and its military might.  

What would happen in the world if the US decided to not offer protection?  What would those countries enemies be able to do without the United States standing by their side?  The smaller, more vulnerable countries would be swallowed up and lost to the stronger and less scrupulous nations.  Remember the USSR? There is some controversy in how and who we protect and support and in the past poor decisions have resulted in disastrous results but the premise of protecting those who cannot is still a good one, despite those past issues.

There are those who maintain a view that all war is bad and all war should be avoided at all cost, never really considering the alternatives to being attacked or the need for someone to fill the role of protector for those who cannot protect themselves.  Often asked, “If not us, then who?”  Should we allow Russia or China to take its turn as the world's police, and If we were so naive, what results would be forthcoming?

Then there are those who espouse a life of lawlessness, the anarchist who seem to despise all laws, only willing to live by self-imposed rules.  They fail to understand the basic principle that freedom is a result of obeying specific laws.  The absence of law and order does not equate to freedom only a society devoid of laws, subjecting all to its tyranny and subjugation, with exception of those very few who through power, intimidation and terror control all the others….NO freedom, NO choices and NO justice.

Society should be balanced to support the rights and privileges of all, not just those who scream the loudest or cause the most damage.  When laws are devoid of equal justice they are without justice entirely, leaving those who are not deemed equal without the protection of those laws.

From politics to war and from injustice to anarchy, we, our society, is at the mercy of our unwillingness to establish societal standards that demand compliance.  Not unlike managing a classroom, when a teacher fails to demand respect the class becomes unmanageable and unruly.  Lessons prepared are ineffective, students are disruptive and the consequences of poor behavior are not enforced, further supporting that poor behavior.  Learning is lost.  

School districts are more concerned about how everyone feels, forsaking the needed role of educators and the need to teach proper behaviors and respect to the rule of law.  Students are allowed to rule the roost, destroying the academic opportunities within many of this country's schools.  School classes are at war with their teachers and teachers are at war with the districts.

As another example, President Trump has been forced to rethink his immigration ban, not because it was unconstitutional but because of the petulant outcry against that executive order, an order that was done in the past by multiple presidents to balance and protect this country.  Those demonstrators, those voices are nothing more than ill-mannered children looking to force their way, regardless of the rule of law, and in spite of the needs of the many.  For too long, like the example of the classroom, the government has failed to manage its affairs equitably and the result is inequitable behavior by large sections of our society.  

Who’s to blame?  Government to some degree.  Parents are also to blame,  But mostly the blame falls on the permissive society where everything is considered valid.  There are no truths, no standards, and no winners or losers.  War may be the result if politics continues to fail and the words of our politicians, most of them, continue to be nothing but self-serving, air filled fluff.  

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