War: Good or Bad?

Is war good or bad? Is it right or wrong?

Actually, these are dishonest questions. The questions invite you to accept a false alternative. Either you endorse the horrible, bloody and brutal things that go on in war, or you give the “right” answer — by responding that war is bad and wrong, of course.

It’s called dropping the context. That’s the most prevalent form of intellectual dishonesty there is, whether it’s a married couple squabbling or a handful of world leaders deciding the literal fate of millions.

War is absolutely right and justified whenever in defense of rights. The American Revolution comes to mind. The Civil War comes to mind. World War II comes to mind, as well. These were bloody and brutal endeavors. Of course it would have been better if none of these wars were ever fought. But without them, there never would have been a United States, slavery would never have been abolished in the United States, and the combined powers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan would have ended the United States before most of us were born.

You don’t have to like, love or endorse the brutality of war in order to like, love or endorse the results it sometimes brings.

Pacifists are wrong. If pacifists got their way, brutal thugs would have overtaken us long ago. At the same time, war-mongers are no better. War-mongers are often the brutal thugs that peaceful people must go to war with, in order to reaffirm or restore liberty. It’s just the way it is.

The only solution to war? Paradoxically, peace through strength. We accomplish peace through strength by attaining so many powerful weapons that nobody rational would ever attack us. As for the irrational who will attack us anyway, we show that we’re prepared to use those weapons, whenever we have to do so. Consider the nuclear blasts on Japan back in 1945 . Think of how many innocent soldiers those awful, horrifying events saved. Think of how many enemy soldiers never had to fight, thanks to the swift end those weapons brought to World War II. It took those events to show enemies of the time, as well as future enemies, that an otherwise peace-loving country was prepared to do anything, if it had to, in order to keep its liberty. Lessons for our present time, as well.

We forget or ignore these principles at our peril. If you wish to honor fallen or injured soldiers, and prevent the need for any future ones, you’d do well to remember all of this.

Happy Memorial Day. May liberty and individual rights be with us for a long, long time.


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