Dying for a Little Peace
The Western world, it seems, is overflowing with peace organizations. Influenced by the rat pack of Galtung-inspired Peace Studies graduates, they consist of left-leaning utopians, Christian “social justice” groups who make forbearing captives when taken hostage by those with whom they commiserate (often to the extent of denouncing their rescuers), and a sorority of bustling middle-class matrons and their snuggy-breasted male consorts, all with too much time on their hands. One of the latest such organizations is a regional klatch of affluent do-gooders by the name of PeaceQuest that describes itself in a slick and unctuous -- and comma challenged -- pamphlet as:
a new community-based, organization in Eastern Ontario. Committed
and engaged citizens from a variety of backgrounds, for whom peace is a patriotic
value, have come together to invite a community-wide conversation in Kingston
Ontario as we near the 100th anniversary of the “War to end all Wars” and Canada’s
150th anniversary as a nation.
PeaceQuest has presently embarked on a mission to spread its message to other Canadian cities in order to bring all right-thinking people into the camp of self-proclaimed saints. Let us consider its program and rationale.
PeaceQuest tells us that “wars are tragic failures” and that “there are no winners.” In a sense, this is true, but only in a sense. In war, nearly everybody “loses,” but some are in peril of losing more than they would have forfeited had they not actually “won.” Europe and possibly America would have been reduced to subject populations -- including the jejune demographic of PeaceQuesters -- had the Allies not gone to war against the Axis powers. Six million of my people were exterminated by the Nazis, but had the war not been “won,” the number would have approached twelve million, that is, most of world Jewry. Loss is a relative phenomenon, and to lose less than would otherwise have been the case may be defined as a form of winning.
PeaceQuest is not interested in such a melancholy but justifiable calculus. Thus we are enjoined “to work together to show that the way to give meaning to the millions killed…is to promote” -- presto! -- “peace, peacemaking and reconciliation.” For the PeaceQuesters, the way to honor the war dead is not by remembering why the war was worth fighting but instead by imagining that it might have been avoided altogether through the circulation of resolutions and companionable exchanges. Said another way, we are encouraged to fill the air with thought balloons as if the world were a giant comic strip in which amity will eventually prevail among the clans, militias and nations gnawing at one another’s throats.
After these ringing proclamations, we are presented with six sample respondents’ answers to the question, In our search for peace we need to… Each statement (in italics below) is accompanied by a photo of a face smiling with radiant good nature. What follows are my elaborations of these leguminous affirmations as seems appropriate in context.
In our search for peace we need to…
1. Teach history from different perspectives. As it happens, this program has been in full swing for many years, to which the revisionist oeuvre of Howard Zinn, Tony Judt, Avi Shlaim, Chris Hedges, Kirkpatrick Sale, Thomas Piketty and Ilan Pappe, among a host of others, amply attests. From these efforts we learn that America and Israel (and, of course, capitalism) are responsible for most of the world’s sufferings. Russia, China and the Arab and Muslim autocracies need to be apologized to or conceded to in order to advance the cause of universal peace. Surely then, they will lay down their weapons and end outright their political, economic and military belligerence.
2. Strive for equality and understanding. Resonant abstractions, true, but musings that our enemies will acknowledge with relief and gratitude as they invariably reciprocate by introducing democratic principles into their polities, respecting their neighbors’ borders, establishing parity between the sexes, and ceasing to fund terrorist militias and domestic subversives.
3. Smile. This directive is intended to show that we mean no one any harm and are ready to smile even more broadly as our heads are being sawed off.
4. Change the way we think. In other words, analytic thinking is subsumed by or transformed into tender feelings for the planet and all its inhabitants, rendering us vulnerable before unaccommodating facts but at least allowing us to be proud of ourselves as we go terminally under.
5. Cultivate peace within ourselves. Aside from being empty of manual-type content -- how does one go about functionally changing the parameters of the self? -- this ostensibly heroic enterprise requires us to be oblivious to the eternal rugosities of human nature, to the irresolvable problems that plague every human life, and to the millennial failure to achieve anything remotely resembling happy coexistence in human affairs. But should the attempt falter, access to lobotomy is always a viable alternative.
6. Believe peace is possible. Our PeaceQuesters act in defiance of the Roman adage that if we want peace, we should prepare for war, which is surely bad advice. Neville Chamberlain believed peace was possible with the German Reich, which many deluded people claim led to WWII and sixty million deaths, whereas immediate surrender to Nazi Germany would clearly have produced a peaceful Thousand Year reign under the benevolent gaze of Hitler and his successors.
Irony aside, what our soigné rabble of propitiators does not understand is that it is an unwitting collaborator with our assailants, helping them to further a malignant agenda by exhorting us, in the spirit of the times, to practice a prolonged form of cultural euthanasia. These people are so lazy and feckless that they refuse to do even a minim of research to keep abreast of the real world. For example, there is no recognition of the fact, according even to a mealy-mouthed mollifier like U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, that 2014 was a bumper year for global terrorism: “Worldwide, from January to September, around 13,000 terror attacks were carried out, killing 31,000 people.” The subsequent six months were no less sanguinary. No amount of good will, pharyngeal rhetoric or airy-minded idealism would change one iota of the remorseless and carnal world we inhabit.
The belief that reason can prevail over inveterate savagery, “smart power” over jungle power, is the same psychology, for example, that animates Toronto’s annual Spirit of Hope Benefit, which tackles issues such as human rights, freedom and democracy, and the Middle East. Partnered by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, it too has fallen prey to the ideological opiates of the day, fostering the values of love and compassion among schoolchildren and teaching them, in the words of Spirit of Hope’s president Avi Benlolo, about “tolerance and respect” and “the tragic consequences of hate.” A program of this nature will ensure that these children become sitting ducks for the murderous hordes that deserve -- and need -- to be hated with undeviating vehemence. Love of humanity, no matter how well-intentioned, is suspect unless we are prepared without compunction -- and without compassion or tolerance -- to liquidate those who kill, torture, enslave and oppress and for whom the values of love, respect, tolerance and compassion are a risible farce to be enjoyed and ruthlessly exploited.
One sees how deep this dreary burlesque of accommodation can sink when one examines the antics of the Nobel Committee, which has been so thoroughly addled as to award the coveted Nobel Peace Prize to an arch-terrorist like Yasser Arafat, a social-justice fraudster like Rigoberta Menchú or an unqualified and out-and-out political disaster like Barack Obama whose notion of peace entails deceit, weakness and appeasement. Indeed, for the sake of peace (ostensibly, at any rate) Obama has pursued negotiations and serially extended deadlines with Iran -- a terror-sponsoring and genocidal rogue regime that has threatened to incinerate Israel and bring down the United States -- that would allow it to achieve the nuclear means to carry out its bruited purpose. Iran has been very clear about its intentions. But such comminations, apparently, are only harmless bluff and bluster. After all, the mullahs are human like the rest of us and men of faith whose putative desire for peace can be trusted.
Aside from the liars and political operators in public office whose malign agenda we have come to know only too well, the nub of the issue is this. The PeaceQuesters and their ilk work variously under the assumption that human beings are fundamentally moral and rational, that human nature is basically good, and that hatred, misunderstanding and war are the products of poverty, social maladies, economic disparities and pernicious educational theories and practices. (Though if human nature is intrinsically benign, where these ills might conceivably have come from is an argument-defeating enigma.)
In effect, we are dealing with an assortment of latter-day Rousseauians who cannot see that cruelty, envy, greed, resentment and aggression are inherent aspects of human nature no less and perhaps even more than kindness, sympathy and love; that the baser elements of our nature may be fought and managed but never abolished; that human beings are ethical mongrels; that conflicts between individuals are inescapable; and that physical nature in its harshness and unpredictability will ineluctably create conditions in which amiable fellow-feeling is inevitably checked or turned into its opposite. Such are both human nature and physical nature, neither susceptible to remedial transformations nor maudlin illorications. We can hope for the best, but it is pure folly not to expect the worst -- and be prepared for it. Life is not an idyll; it is damage control.
Regrettably, the PeaceQuesters lack imaginative vitality, common sense and an adequate understanding of human history, relying exclusively on clichés and panaceas to treat what is only partially curable -- if that. They are, put plainly, moral simpletons and political naifs. One of their representative quotations is from self-help author Wayne Dyer: When you live on a round planet, there’s no choosing of sides. This means there is nothing to choose between the Sudanese government and the hundreds of thousands it has displaced and murdered in Darfur; between the Khmer Rouge and the one third of Cambodians it slaughtered; between China and the late country of Tibet it has overrun; between the Ukrainian resistance and the Russian invasion; between Boko Haram and the thousands of Christian men, women and children it has exterminated -- one of its leaders, Abubakar Shekau, claims to have personally dispatched a thousand Christians in one day; between, let us say, the beheader and the beheaded, the jihadi and the harbi. In essence, there is no choosing between a genocidal regime or military aggressor and its helpless victims, which should give endless comfort, for example, to the descendants of Ottoman Turkey’s Armenian holocaust, to the Ukrainian people who remember the eight million lost to Stalin’s program of forced famine as they once again face the Russian bear, or to the Christians of the Muslim Middle East and Africa.
That we have the leisure to invest in these morally equivalent, two-sides-to-every-conflict, peacemongering imbecilities is at once a betrayal of the principles our ancestors fought and died for and an infallible sign of an effete and declining civilization, encircled by hostile powers that have no time to spare for such indulgences and inanities. Peace comes, when it does, at the point of a sword, and only intermittently, but never as the result of ineffable palaver which insists that peace “is an active way of living, seeking to resolve conflicts cooperatively, respecting the well being of the earth and all its peoples.” (“I believe in peace,” sings Ted Nugent, “through supreme fighter power.”) I would have no quarrel with so exalted a PeaceQuest project were it realizable -- and even if it were partly feasible, we must ensure that we remain capable of responding decisively when our respect for the earth and all its peoples is not respected back in the same idealistic way.
Churchill’s 1954 maxim “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war” applies only in cases where there is a reasonable prospect of concord, reconciliation or restraint among rational interlocutors with mutual interests. (One recalls the Yalta debacle where jaw-jawing led to the communist takeover of half of Europe.) Historian Bruce Thornton’s acrid comment on the superstition that “all conflict can be resolved through the give-and-take and rational discussion of negotiation” is perennially apt: “This is an old belief, still clung to by many in the face of numerous bloody examples of its failure. Even as Hitler’s tanks were rolling into Poland, an American senator said, 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.'” It should be obvious that the hand of peace extended to the Morlocks of the ideological world will be chopped off at the wrist, which would at least put an end to the act of writing sappy pamphlets and fatuous Questionnaires. Thornton is absolutely right. “[W]hen the adversary does not share fundamental beliefs and principles, negotiation merely offers the enemy an opportunity to buy time…[A]n enemy intent on achieving a strategic aim will lie, cheat, conceal, and misdirect until it can announce success with a fait accompli.” This is an enemy that has only two aims: to game the diplomatic system and to destroy those whose affectation of civility is ethereal, sentimental and ultimately a mortal liability.
PeaceQuest now intends to publish “a children’s book on peace”; but while our youngsters are being taught to smile and dream, young children in Gaza are learning how to fire Kalashnikovs and warlike militias are indoctrinating their tots in the arts of annihilation. I shudder to think of a PeaceQuest pre-teen coming face to face with his Liberian or ISIS-cub or Palestinian counterpart somewhere out there in the Hobbesian jungle of the real world. And when Pajama Boy warming his hands on a cup of hot chocolate meets the Ginger Jihadist clutching an assault rifle, the result, I’m afraid, is foreordained. It might be wise to attend to James Delingpole, who in his recent book 365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy, jokes: “Give your small children toy guns and tell your liberal friend, ‘Yeah, I think this is the best way to break them in so they can handle the real thing when they're six or seven.’”
Meanwhile, our enemies are chortling with joy as they gradually close in for the kill. Moreover, we can expect that radical feminists and devotees of Gaia will soon join hands with the PeaceQuesters to denounce an ostensible patriarchy and reduce half the population to the condition of court eunuchs. (Indeed, feminist Ashley Hogins has recently struck a formidable blow for the cause, asserting ex cathedra that “there are more women who are traumatized from street harassment than men who go to f*cking war.”) What will our PeaceQuesters (and sorority allies) then do against an invasion of bearded phallocrats from beyond? Not to worry. They will valiantly defend us, brandishing an arsenal of smiles and brochures.