Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ceasefire - UChannel

Who is not against war? Who won't have peace? When there is a speaker who pleads for a ceasefire in the most general sense, who pleads against war all over - who would not agree? What arguments are there that war should stop and that this will benefit people are actually unknown and would surprise us?

I set out to listen to a podcast issue at UChannel Podcast with exactly these questions. Professor Gordon Fellman spoke at the Brandeis University under the title Cease-Fire: The case for ending war. Fellman proposes three main, bad, reasons for war. One is that war serves the economy. Two is that war is an expression of a kind of cultural masculinity that needs to express itself in competitiveness and aggression in order to be satisfied. Three is that justified anger about serious issues is redirected towards enemies and war. Of course economy would be better off with peace, of course we could have self-esteem as nations without competition and aggression. And obviously internal politics should better be directed at the real issues in stead of redirecting towards external, imagined, adversaries.

How useful is it to propose these truisms? Apart from extreme war ideologists such as Adolf Hitler, no leader sent his nation off to war with the idea that war was actually laudable. War has been seen as the inevitable evil. To ascribe its rationalizations to economic conspiracy, false ideas about self-esteem and what are the true issues are a kind of unfalsifiable trick. It pushes people who feel threatened and think armament and if necessary war, are their only way to go as stupidly mistaken. It evades the question whether threats can indeed be serious, whether enemies can indeed be lethal and what needs to be the policy in such a situation. And then an argument for a case that could hardly be lost is wasted.

More UChannel Podcast:
Capitalism and Confusion - Amartya Sen,
Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and the Middle East,
Taming Religion - Ian Buruma trilogy,
Averting the disasters of climate change,
Interfaith and Compassion.
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