11 July 2005 - Monday
Pacifism has slain its thousands, retaliation its tens of thousands
Caleb McDaniel and Timothy Burke continue their fascinating conversation on war, peace, human agency, and the nature of modern civilization.
But I worry that any argument in favor of violence--however limited--ultimately reduces to the argument that the end justifies the means. Moreover (and this is why it's dangerous to say that the end justifies the means) we don't even know that the means of violence will secure the end of a world without violence. A utilitarian rationale for war requires making a bet that war will produce peace, but thus far in the world's history, the house has won that bet every single time.Burke:
... I think I'd be entitled to claim World War II as a case in which the bet against the house was won, where aggression was met with aggression and that counterfactually, had it not been met with aggression, the "peace" which would have resulted would have not been worthy of the name. This goes back to my unease about whether peace per se is a goal: peace under Nazi or Stalinist hegemony is not peace worth having, even if it were the absence of conflict.