The Philosophy of War

By on February 13, 2003

War is imminent. The debate must be re-focused as the Bush administration continues to make it abundantly clear that the only remaining decision is not whether the United States will declare war on Iraq, but if the United Nations will support the effort.
President Bush, who was once philosophical about the “preferred” possibility of avoiding violent conflict, has ratcheted up his rhetoric and become forcefully determinate since Colin Powell addressed the U. N. Security Council Feb. 5.
Powell was supposedly acting as prosecutor, tapped to deliver the damning evidence that would convince the nations of the Security Council that war was necessary and justified.
But it seems that Bush is not willing to wait for the jury to return, making it plainly obvious that his mind has been made up for some time, and that he was willing to placate and pay diplomatic lip service to the U.N. only up to a certain point.
His patience has now run out, and his frustration over the rest of the world’s hesitance to come around to his cause has overwhelmed his taste for diplomacy.
The politics of the endeavor are cloudy at best. Unilateral military action with the objective of regime change sets many dangerous precedents, and it is fair to speculate that U.S. committal in the Arab world will increase the risk of further terrorist action at home. But the act of war itself is always above politics.
We face the slippery slope now of ardently defending philosophical conviction while simultaneously avoiding the development of ill- fated and maliciously motivated priorities.
Whatever one thinks about the nature or war, or the virtuosity of this war, once troops are deployed, all Americans must hope for unconditional success.
While war is initially and too often decided politically, it must always be fought objectively and with the knowledge that lives, and not votes, are the bounty at stake. To root against imprudent policy is one thing, to root against soldiers is entirely another.
Citizens must remain active and advisory, never compromising their beliefs but also never wishing sabotage upon those who carry out the President’s bidding.
Those against war must remain vigilant, but remember that military failure is not defined by the loss of political capital, but by the loss of innocent life and the catalyst for perpetual strife and fear.
To prevail, Bush must conquer the Achilles heel that haunted him throughout the 2000 presidential campaign – How will this untested leader negotiate situations of the highest international tension?
The American electorate chose to look past Bush’s worldly inexperience in the vastly more peaceful and secure world of just two and a half years ago, but he will be forced to ascend to the utmost level of statesmanship now.
The modern American presidency poses the most awesome responsibility and prospect of power in the history of the world, rivaled only by Renaissance Popes. Even the most dominating monarchs were limited by boundaries that extended only so far. Bush’s touch reaches every tip of the globe. Let’s hope it is a delicate one.


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