Sunday, June 07, 2009

Beyond "War is NOT the Answer"

The phrase on the bumper sticker “War is NOT the answer” has always left me perplexed — bumper sticker-wise.

First, it assumes that we know what the question is. War it NOT the answer to what? Injustice, rape, pillage, invasion, dictatorship, cruelty?” If war is NEVER the answer, it should say so. (More on that in a moment.)

Second, and worse, the phrase, by focusing on the wrong answer, doesn’t get us closer to the right one. I want to know what to do, not what NOT to do.

Third, war is not only NOT the answer, it shouldn’t even be on the list of answers, ever. It should be a concept that is not conceivable to human beings.

The bumpersticker, in a backhanded way, helps make war conceivable.

Recently I’ve been reading “Going Solo,” Roald Dahl’s memoir of his time in the Royal Air Force during World War II. He’s a fighter pilot in a small, doomed squadron stationed in Greece. Everyone in the squadron knows that the German Luftwaffe has the RAF contingent, the only British planes in the Greek theater, outnumbered many times over.

And help is not on the way. In fact the pilots are ordered to remain in order to provide air cover for the retreating British troops.

The RAF aviators are, in essence, dead pilots flying. Indeed, of the 15 in the original squadron, only two survive. All the pilots can do is bemoan the hopeless absurdity of their plight and prepare to meet their doom.

But the absurdity began long before their arrival in Greece. Once they (and the Germans for that matter) accepted war as the answer, once they agreed to participate in its inhumanity, they lost any right to argue about or resist the hopelessness of their situation.

You can’t argue about the methods of war once you are at war. War is as amoral as it is immoral.

The bumper sticker “War is NOT the answer” was produced by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker-affiliated organization in Washington, D.C.

I think FCNL can do better.

My bumper sticker reads: “Make war … unthinkable.”

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Blogger LuLu said...

War is not the answer, simply an age old solution. Sadly, this action is sometimes the only recognizable, impressive means to convey a message that it is not acceptable to obliterate a portion of human kind simply because it does not "fit" into the master plan of a particular religion or belief. War will never be "unthinkable" as long as this world recognizes the fact that the threat of terrorism, religious extremists and their supporters is real and ever present. All of us would love a warm, fuzzy place where we all work together for a common good. Honestly, this place will not be found in our lifetime, and probably not in our children's lifetime.

5:25 PM  

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