Why War Must Hurt
By Kate Blake
September 21, 2001
Just before all hell breaks loose in the fictional England of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, his hero proclaims, "I believed that in time I could easily [achieve] an event which should be the first of its kind in the history of the world--a rounded and complete governmental revolution without bloodshed."
Reality is now being force-fed that sort of idealism in the form of sites such as sharedvoice.org (which invites my contempt anyway on the basis of its ultra-democratic naivete, not to mention its tacky site design). The peace bandwagon's loading up with stirring statements such as this gem:
"We strongly encourage our leaders to choose a course of action that will spare the lives of innocent people, that will rebuild our faith in humanity, and will foster a peaceful, humane and harmonious world."
Charming. Of course, we realists must pour cold water all over that, as Rich Lowry brilliantly does in the current issue of National Review. To quote:
"International agreements aren't possible or effective unless all parties are amenable, first to persuasion, and then to the restraints of various parchment boundaries. It is difficult for people with this worldview to take account of the atavistic and savage impulses of peoples and their leaders."
Even if the peacemongers were to take human nature into account, they cannot possibly believe that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were isolated (can they?). Surely they must understand that unprovoked terrorism is borne of desires that have nothing to do with peace. I can't quite accept a vision of the terrorists' backers sitting around their television on the morning of the eleventh, high-fiving to cries of "That showed 'em!" I can't quite accept the naive insistence that they have been satisfied.
Pleading for a peace that the terrorists themselves sacrificed is to close our eyes to reality and to human nature. Military action, in this case, is not borne of venegance; to demand the defeat of Osama bin Laden, et al., is not to desire war or to want their innocent to suffer. Instead, it recognizes that the perpetuation of life--here, the life of freedom--does not happen without pain. If their innocent die, it is not because we chose to pick a fight, but because their own leaders chose to pick a fight.
You'll take that as callous, I know. You'll say I don't care. And so, an illustration from experience.
When I lay in labor with my daughter, my second child, telling myself that I didn't feel the muscles hardening in my belly and pulling at my spine, I prayed that God would make the muscles in my body stop contracting, that He would soothe the pain. I explained to Him, very rationally, that this was a little much for me, and that I would go to the hospital for a C-section if only He would make it stop hurting.
Naturally, He didn't stop the contractions, and my child was born at the cost of those many hours of outright agony. Likewise the contractions of civilization: the life of great civilizations emerges in conflict, in strife, and in the blood of those willing to birth it. There is no such thing as a bloodless revolution, or what is wanted is not enough to stir its adherents to do anything they must to see that it prevails.
The terrorists were well aware of that. The idolizers of peace, though, insist that we must not be.
Copyright 2001 by Kate Blake. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.