Monday, January 29, 2007

WAR - Part 3: Something to Lose

There are winners and there are losers. It cannot be argued that conflict will inevitably cost something to both parties, they will both lose something in the deal, if only some humanity, a dire statement indeed, in the best of cases.

I have heard it said that the most dangerous man is that who has nothing to lose. I do agree with this statement with the only caveat that “nothing” should be defined a little more closely.

Nothing can mean a very great deal to some, and an actual nothing to others.

Let me pick on the subject du jour, and to make things simple, I am only showing a single perspective here:

Christianity holds life-on-earth as the dearest of values. In fact, so much so that suicide is a sin that will instantly send one to hell. So theoretically a Christian always has something to lose, by it’s very definition.

It is rather obvious then, that suicide-bombers, for example, don’t hold life-on-earth in particularly high regard. I don’t think I need to elaborate any further to make this point.

One party’s value can be very dramatically different from the next, and this mere difference yields an interesting attack strategy, does it not? Keep this in mind for a little bit.

This also screws our perspective of the warring factions. An atrocity is reprehensible only if the crime being committed matters to you, the observer. I have mentioned genocide as being a heinous act in a previous blog, again this is from my own, dare I say, Christian perspective. I cannot fathom anyone thinking that genocide is conscionable, but with the fuckup in Darfur among others, it is obvious that I am wrong on this point, and that genocide is quite acceptable to some.

Perspective or no, what is it that declares the winner of a war? This is another version of the same question to define success.

An easy answer is that the forces of evil are kept at bay. Yeah, right, but who was the evil? The attacker? Who’s to say who attacked first? Sometimes this is very clear-cut, but other times, not so much. Sometimes a party is simply baited into conflict, either by design (contemptible) or happenstance (friend of thy enemy).

I will use WW2 to demonstrate the point: Hilter was very clearly out to do serious harm, take over the world, etc. No question, and even the Germans admit that one, so it’s not just a case of the winners writing the history books.

The latter is a bit trickier, but again I draw from WW2. Japan was at war with China, who was being sold arms and provided mercenaries by their friend the United States. By measures, it could be argued that Japan and the U.S. were already at war for a while, albeit indirectly through China, by the time Pearl Harbor was attacked. So by this particular point of view, Japan didn’t really attack the U.S. first. I’m not saying Japan didn’t attack then-friend China first though!

Anyways, the forces of evil were kept at bay when the Allied forces won. Capitulation was had, treaties were signed, and so forth. Everyone lost a bit of humanity.

Note that we weren’t fighting for life per se, but rather quality thereof. We were fighting for freedom. Self-determination.


50 million dead on the Allied side, and 12 million casualties on the Axis side. By sheer numbers alone, in cost of life, the Axis was the clear winner. That’s a shocker isn’t it?

It is a shocking point of view, yet we wage war in precisely this manner, even today!

So obviously, cost-of-life, for example, has to be weighed against freedom and self-determination in gauging the outcome of that war. Our elected leaders estimated that the cost of 62 millions lives was worth the price for freedom. Keep this also in mind for a minute.

Now let’s take a look at a conflict a little closer to our timeframe.

Some friends and I were discussing air-travel and new security restrictions imposed by our governments. We all know why.

It’s the tip of a mean iceberg: It’s a small thing to keep the illusion that we are safe in the air, it’s a small thing for the security people to have files on everyone boarding an airplane, it’s a small thing to have a black list of people, it’s a small thing to have mandatory passports (which I’ve already discussed), it’s a small thing to have cameras installed everywhere, it’s a small thing to have bio-id systems (retinal scans, DNA, fingerprints, etc.), and finally it’s a small thing to invoke publication bans… Nineteen Eighty-Four is here, right now.

And the populace is wont to accept any number of not so subtle and very significant encroachments on personal freedom in the name of the illusion of security. Yet personal freedom is what we held very dearest some 60 years ago, to the tune of at least 62 million dead.

And today we have no less than self-inflicted outright dilapidation of freedom, with no end in sight. Furthermore there is no clear treaty that can be signed to stop that. And to cap it all off, we have a first-day-only count of 3000 civilian casualties.

A very wise and venerated American once said: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Back to our 2 tagged thoughts from earlier: know thy enemy and exploit his weakness and what is important enough to give up your life for. We remember right?

OK, so the question I have today, which can never be truly answered, is: Did al-Qaeda or Ousama or whoever, bait the free-world into a war with itself? Did they know we would knee-jerk our own selves into fucking up our own freedom?

Thereby freely handing over the win?


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