Update – and just for the record: What I meant to say, and what I should have said, was that CHOOSING war is always wrong.
Atrios posted a YouTube video of Elvis Costello singing “Peace Love and Understanding.” A simple message, but I’d like readers to reflect on this a minute.
I was born not long after the end of WWII. The world was sick of war and looking for ways to avoid it — line the UN. For example, the UN’s processes helped us back away from nuclear destruction during the Cuban Missile Crisis and has helped dampen many other conflicts. But somehow it seems that lessons have been unlearned since then, the most important of which is WAR IS WRONG. WAR IS THE WORST THING!
Today I turn on the AM radio and almost every station is blasting a message that war is a good thing. Seriously, listen to Limbaugh for a while. Or just listen to Bush the other day explaining why a cease fire is out of the question. And there are well-funded organizations working long-term to undermine the UN and other peacemaking efforts. Then there are the more subtle pushes toward war, the kind that ride under the radar of the media, doing things like encouraging India and Pakistan to develop ever MORE nuclear weapons. Or refusing to talk to North Korea or Syria or Iran… It is all cloaked in modern, soothing PR-speak, but it’s war and aggression and it could bring the same consequences to humanity that it has always brought in the past.
Now we live in the Propaganda Age. Marketers have figured out how to use words and images to trigger deep emotions, distract our focus, fog our thinking and get us to do things we would never do otherwise. This isn’t right or wrong – it’s just science. It’s just knowledge. But all of us need to catch up to the science here, and find ways to regulate it, counter it, protect against it. Europe learned the hard way what happens when unrestrained racist propaganda is put in front of people — so now in much of Europe it is banned. Look at what unrestricted marketing has brought us — a lung cancer epidemic, widespread obesity, massive debt, global warming and other forms of what I call “marketing diseases.” And now they are marketing war. We are going to have to learn, probably the hard way, that we need collective agreement about restrictions on marketing.
We live a good life in America. But that doesn’t mean it can’t go all wrong. We talk about “withdrawal” from the Iraq war, as if that would end anything we have started. Tell me, do you think Japan could have called for a time out and “withdrawal” after Pearl Harbor? No, that is not how war works. Japan thought it could do a quick, surgical strike and knock out our capability – and will – to respond. They guessed wrong. And now, like Japan, we have leadership that is bringing war to others. So it is our responsibility – each and every one of us individually and together – to do what we can stop this madness NOW. This could escalate and place us all in direct danger – here, in our shopping malls, in our own homes, not sanitized on a TV screen. That could be our children being dragged from bombed buildings. We all have to start taking real action to stop the madness, beyond just watching it on a TV screen and clicking our tongues. This is our country’s leadership doing this — in our names. We cannot accept this. We must stop it.