Sunday, April 09, 2017

The Non Beauty of War

CNN: Donald Trump became President tonight.
Washington Post: Put credibility back into American power.
MSNBC: Beautiful.

With all due respect, dropping bombs does not make someone presidential, in and of itself says nothing about credibility, and, even in the most justifiable circumstance, is never, ever, beautiful. It is a violent and destructive act that inflicts damage, pain and suffering which, even in the most defensible of situations, simply should not be celebrated.

I know there are many who would argue those points and they have that right. I have friends who would argue those points. But the above refers to the most defensible of situations, and unfortunately no one, and I mean not a single person, can even clearly articulate the goals of this decision, much less predict the repurcussions.

So media, please stop falling all over yourselves propping up an act of war, praising the decision maker, or failing to provide even a modicum of journalistic integrity. This act in and of itself will accomplish nothing positive; it is merely an opening salvo. This path could lead, after much suffering and anguish, to Assad's removal and a stable post-Assad Syria. It could lead to an end to chemical weapon attacks, or even to an end to the Syrian refugee crisis. And if so, we can discuss the merits and decide whether the journey justified the destination.

Because ends don't necessarily justify means. But let's assume for a moment that the ends, in this case, do end up justifying whatever means unfold as a result of this bombing. In that case, military might has achieved its objective and it could be argued that its deployment was the best among a list of really unpalatable options. Fair enough. Even as an avowed pacifist who believes that violence begets more violence and that it is almost never the right answer, I must acknowledge that almost never is not the same as always never.

And I'll reluctantly write that I was wrong, that this decision was indeed presidential, re-established the credibility of American military intervention, and was the correct thing to do. But I will never call it beautiful.

There are many dramatically negative consequences that could stem from this decision, quite possibly on the global level. The United States is quite aware of what Middle East state-making looks like these days: endless war. Maybe we'll get lucky this time or the future will look back and decide this was the right decision.

But until that time comes, let's not only hold the media accountable. Let's hold ourselves accountable- to watch closely, to question our leaders, to challenge, and to constantly question our comfort with how this unfolds. Most of all, let's refuse to celebrate until we are sure it was the right decision.

And either way, regardless of what happens, let's never forget:

War is never beautiful.

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