For the last hundred years the best and brightest of the civilized world have been engaged in the business of peace. In the days before the Nobel Peace Prize became a joke, it was expected that scientific progress would lead to moral progress. Nations would accept international laws and everyone would get together to replace wars with international conferences.
Instead technological progress just gave us better ways to kill each other. There have been few innovations in the moral technology of global harmony since Immanuel Kant’s “Perpetual Peace” laid out a plan to grant world citizenship to all refugees and outlaw all armies, invasions and atrocities with the whole shebang would be overseen by a League of Nations.
That was in 1795 and Kant’s plan was at least more reasonable than anything we have two-hundred years later today because it at least set out to limit membership in this body to free republics. If we had done that with the United Nations, it could conceivably have become something resembling a humane organization. Instead it’s a place where the dictators of the world stop by to give speeches about human rights for a show that’s funnier than anything you could find eight blocks away at the Broadway Comedy Club.
Since the League of Nations folded, the warring peoples of the world have added the atom bomb, the suicide bomber, the jet plane, the remotely guided missile, the rape squad, the IED, the child soldier and the stealth fighter to their arsenals. And the humanitarians have murdered a few billion trees printing out more useless treaties, conventions and condemnations; more dead trees than accounted for by every piece of human literature written until the 19th Century.
There is no moral technology to prevent war. Or rather war is the moral technology, that when properly applied, ensures peace.
The humanitarians had gone down a dead end by trying to create perpetual peace by outlawing war, but the peace-shouters who wear their inverted Mercedes Logo don’t really want peace, some of them reflexively hate war for sentimental reasons, but their leaders and most committed activists don’t hate war, they hate the people who win the wars.
The plan for perpetual peace is really a plan for perpetual war. It necessitates that the civilized nations who heed its call amass overwhelming quantities of firepower as deterrents against war, which they will pledge to never use because if the threat of destroying the world isn’t enough, their bluff will be called and they will fold. And if they don’t fold, then the world will be destroyed because the humanitarians said that peace was better than war.
It also necessitates that the actual wars that they fight be as limited as possible by applying precision technology to kill only actual armed enemy combatants while minimizing collateral damage. And that humanitarian objective also necessitates that the other side reply with a counter-objective of making it as hard as possible to kill them without also killing civilians.
The humanitarian impulse makes the anti-humanitarian impulse inevitable. The more precisely we try to kill terrorists, the more ingeniously the terrorists blend into the civilian population and employ human shields. The more we try not to kill civilians, the more civilians we are forced to kill. That is the equal and opposite reaction of the humanitarian formula.
In Afghanistan, the Rules of Engagement were overhauled to minimize Afghan civilian casualties. This was so successful that not only did the casualty rate for American soldiers dramatically increase because they were not allowed to fire unless they were being fired at, but the number of Afghan civilian casualties killed by American forces also fell dramatically. It was a great triumph. But sadly the number of Afghan civilians killed by the Taliban increased dramatically and more than made up for the shortfall.
When the Taliban have won the war, the number of civilian casualties will be tremendous once Obama pulls the troops out and the cheerful bearded boys march into Kabul and start killing every woman who can read. But it was still a better thing than the unacceptable levels of civilian casualties under Bush. It was a better thing that the Taliban have free reign to kill as many Afghans as they want than that American soldiers should have been able to fight the Taliban without the humanitarian handcuffs.
Because sometimes you have to destroy the village to save the village, and that is true whether it’s American planes bombing a terrorist hideout or humanitarians letting the Taliban take the village and kill every tenth woman in it.
And yet for all this monumental effort, for all the soldiers dead because they weren’t sure if the man planting an IED in the road was a terrorist or just a decent upstanding poppy farmer checking the soil composition, for all the Afghan civilians killed by the moral technology of inaction, your unfriendly neighborhood peace-shouter is about as satisfied as a cannibal at a vegan banquet. Give him, her or it five valuable minutes of your time and it will begin shrieking about drone strikes, kill lists and the murderous rampage of a technology that is as far from Shock and Awe as you could possibly imagine without going completely Gandhi. If anything it hates drone strikes more than it hates Hiroshima. Mass killing justifies its smug contempt for the machinery of war, but anything that smacks of an attempt to moralize warfare challenges its principles and urges it on to greater displays of outrage.
Israel, in the name of peace, turned over the lives of millions of people to the control of a terrorist organization which taught their children to believe that their highest purpose in life was to die while killing Israelis.
The Oslo Accords turned stone-throwers into shooters and suicide bombers. It allowed the kind of people that most of Israel’s Muslim neighbors had locked up and thrown away the key to, inside the country and gave them charge of the economy and the youth. Every peace dove, every peace song, every peace agreement, made the rivers of blood that followed not only inevitable, but mandatory.
For decades, every time that Israel was on the verge of finishing off the terrorists, there came a call for a ceasefire or a peace agreement. The call was heeded and the violence continued because all the peace agreements and ceasefires were just prolonged unfinished wars. They were a game of baseball that never ended because no home run was ever scored. Instead the New York Yankees were being forced to play the Martyrs of Muslimtown for thirty years with the umpire stepping in every time the hometown team was on the verge of winning the game. Each peace agreement did not mean peace, it meant that the Muslimtown Martyrs would have another few years to go on killing and being killed.
Peace meant that the war would never end. Instead of perpetual peace, it made for perpetual war.
In 1992 Israel deported 400 Hamas terrorists. It didn’t kill them, lock them up or bake them into a pie. All it did was kick them out of a country they didn’t recognize and closed the door behind them. That deportation became the leading human rights cause of the day. The UN issued a unanimous resolution condemning the deportation. The Red Cross brought them blankets. Newsweek accused Israel of “Deporting the Hope for Peace.”
And so Israel took the 400 Hamas terrorists, the hope for peace, back. Over the next 20 years they shed rivers of blood and rivers of blood were shed because of them. There was never any peace with them and they made peace impossible.
But the humanitarians had gotten their way, as they always got their way, and their way was the blown up bus and the shattered cafeteria, the burning building and the suicide bomber making his way through a crowded mall, the child’s mother lovingly tying on his martyr costume complete with Alfred Nobel’s great invention, the jet plane releasing its cargo of bombs and the television screaming for war. But all these were far better than that 400 Hamas terrorists should sniffle into their Red Cross supplied cups of dark coffee on the hills of Lebanon.
To those who croon to that old Lennon song, peace is always better than war, and good intentions lead to good results. The only way forward is to keep extending your hand to the enemy and doing it over and over again no matter how much effort the doctors have to put into stitching it back together again after the last handshake.
Peace is still better than war. It is better that Israel and Hamas fight escalating mini-wars every 3 years than that Israel finish off Hamas once and for all. That price wasn’t worth paying 20 years ago when all it meant was that 400 terrorists would have been forced to get jobs slinging Halal hash in Lebanese Hashish joints. It certainly isn’t worth it today.
A flock of peace doves wings to Israel with proposals for engaging Hamas. But it’s Israel that is supposed to figure out a way to live with its explosive bride. All the proposals call for some gradual process by which Hamas will be courted, engaged and weaned off terror to become an upstanding member of the international community. And that’s all well and good if you have soy for brains.
Hamas is not interested in being engaged. Its goal is the destruction of Israel. This isn’t posturing, it’s not sullen resentment over being blockaded by Israel or outrage over the latest round of fighting. This is the essential ideology of Hamas, derived from the core Islamic principles over the proper role of non-Muslims in the Muslim world. It is not interested in a two-state solution, job creation programs or any of the meaningless shiny toys that diplomats wave when they arrive in the region. Its goal is to make Islam supreme over all other systems by destroying a non-Muslim state in what it considers to be Muslim territory.
Perpetual peace was not made for such conflicts. Peace was made for reasonable people who are willing to give and take. It was not made for those who only take.
Peacemaking is not a policy, it is a religion that we are all obligated to believe in. It is an immoral moral principle that ends in war. Peacemaking in the World War II cost more lives than Hitler could have ever taken on his own. Peacemaking in the War on Terror has cost a hundred times more lives than the terrorists could have ever taken on their own.
The business of peace is the industry of death. Behind the peace sign is a field of flowers with a grave for every one. Behind the peace agreement and the ceasefire is another war that will be worse than the last.