I have always wondered why we spend so much money and sacrifice so many young and aspiring lives on wars in the guise of peace. It is almost as if peace was an afterthought and war the goal. If war is the means to peace and stability then why do we wage so many wars and achieve so little peace? It is more likely the wars we lose end up in peace and stability than the wars we win. If one is so the antitheses of the other, how is it possible that it can bring about the other?
Yet wars and battles are fought by us to killing and destroying ones enemies with the goal to achieve lasting peace. Wars are full of complex contradictions. Today’s battles are far more inhumane that those fought in ancient times even though we mislead ourselves into believing they are more civilized. The damage to the human body and spirit are far worst than those fought by the barbarian hordes. There is no honor or dignity in battle, only savagery, extreme suffering and gut wrenching fear. It is a license to kill and a struggle to stay alive, life with questionable value. It is where heroes are insane and cowards are most rational. War is all about ego for the political leaders who wage them as a perceived quick fix for political gain.
Peace on the other hand is all about understanding, compassion, and cooperation. It is expressed honestly and openly and is amazingly simple, a higher level of human endeavor called trust. It is enduring and enhances survival and socialization, traits best characterized by social animals. It engenders dignity, harmony and long-lasting peace.
So if war is so complex and savage and peace so simple and good why not use peaceful means instead of threats of war having had such poor results to engender peaceful resolution to differences?
In fact all adversarial governments have political leaders whom our government must deal with. Rebel forces that we fight also have leaders. These are not simply nation entities that we deal with but people who run nations and political or religious organizations. So when trying to bring about peace as we see it we are really dealing with human beings who share many of the human traits so common among men. Perhaps all those in government who are part of the negotiating and decision-making process should take conflict resolution courses and use these skills to try brokering a peaceful deal. Our politicians are so used to using ultimatums and employing overwhelming force which almost always fails because we have the most powerful military force in the world at their disposal. Compromise is seldom used and has become a forgotten art.
Congress and the presidency are perfect example of this process. How well does our government get things done this way? If we cannot resolve our domestic conflicts how can we expect to successfully resolve far more complex foreign issues? Our political culture is entirely based upon confrontation, upon overwhelming ones opponents through intimidation and humiliation. Even everyday people do not take confrontation, intimidation, and humiliation well. How can we expect foreign leaders to negotiate under such conditions?
Politics should be about the art of compromise. Compromise only happens when both parties are willing partners in a dialog to rationally discuss what is most important to each. Not every point of compromise has equal value otherwise there is little to compromise. But such priorities must have a rational basis without preconceived assumptions that we have a tendency to make. War should be an absolute last resort, reserved for rare circumstances.
In conflict resolution there is a general rule that if one shows an honest effort towards friendliness the opposing side is more likely to reciprocate in return. Breaking the ice is key to the start of fruitful negotiations. So why can we not learn how to resolve conflicts. Perhaps Congress might become more functional if Congregational lenders lead used conflict resolution principles. And perhaps the price of peace could be far less expensive and longer lasting than the cost of war.