Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Greatest Threat

Now this is what we call short-sighted: John Edwards (D - Presidential candidate) was asked what the greatest threat to world peace was. His answer?
According to Bart, Edwards was asked to name the greatest threat to world peace at the moment. Instead of the simple answer, wars, Edwards had to be a smarty jones and say the increasing likelihood of an Israeli attack on Iran was the primary current threat. You know, because then Washington would start bombing somebody, and Syria/Lebanon would get involved, and Russia would start threatening everybody, and it would be a nuclear war, etc.
Well, let's start with the stupidity of this - why would Russia et al ever get involved? Why would this be worse than Osirak in 1981, which had more international support and led to... nothing? In the grand scheme of "world peace", the world now looks back on that incident with a huge sense of gratitude towards Israel. The worst that this could likely lead to is a flare-up from Hezbollah/Syria... which really wouldn't happen. As commenters noted at DovBear, the first shot from Syria would lead to the flattening of Damascus; and Hezbollah really isn't up to fighting Israel just a few months after the UN saved them from this past summer, especially in terms of a real large-scale war.

Then there's this comment by DovBear at the end:
Edwards was right. The world isn't going to go up in flames if Al Queda pulls off another attack. It'll be horrible, of course, and a terrible tragedy and all that, but not a threat to world peace. If Iran gets the bomb, we'll all be very nervous, but we won't start shooting at each other -- at least not right away.
Huh? Sure, if we don't fight, it's not technically a "war". And World War II didn't really start when Germany took over Poland; it started when the British and everybody else started responding. So a wonderful approach in that instance would have been to just let Germany do as they please - it wouldn't have been a threat to "world peace" per se, and then we could all have talked about how smart we were for not fighting back.

Moronic. Pretending that there is no reason for us to be fighting to uphold some fake perception of "world peace" is exactly the problem. The biggest key in that paragraph is "at least not right away". People love to pretend that there are no problems, no reasons to fight. People can't stomach the idea of war - people die, people get hurt, and in large numbers. Over 3,000 US troops have been killed or died in Iraq since March 2003, more than were killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. This is hard for people to comprehend - why should we fight and lose even more lives than we lost originally... and by our own choosing?

Of course, we could look at World War II: 6,000,000 Jews were killed in the Holocaust... but that was nothing compared to the 24,456,000 military deaths [on all sides]. Or the 32,327,100 civilian deaths excluding Jews. The United States lost 462 thousand troops... over what, Pearl Harbor? 2,403 military personnel?

The answers to all of the above are obvious. We do not - or should not - wait until threats are too imminent before responding, or we dramatically reduce any chances of success. The longer we take to nip threats in the bud, the more casualties they inflict. Sure, it would be great to stick our fingers in our ears and say "LALALA I can't HEAR you!!", pretending all the while that nothing is happening around us; but that's not how the world works. Iran is still trying to - and getting closer to - developing a nuclear weapon. North Korea may already have them. Should we ignore Iran until they actually use it? Sure, destroying their nuclear capacity will likely lead to some small-scale regional war - but is it better to wait until a city is wiped off the map? Should we have let Hitler continue taking over small countries in Europe? The United States didn't understand the full impact of Hitler until after the war was over, yet found it to important not to join (even late) to fight against him. With Ahmadinejad, we have a much better picture of what he is all about.

When it comes down to it, this is what Edwards should have answered: The true greatest threat to world peace is inaction.

[Ez: The best bumper sticker I saw recently said "Except for ending Slavery, Fascism, Nazism, and Communism, war never solved anything."]

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