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God = Love = No War
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Via Jill, here's an interesting Q&A by Chris Hedges, NY Times reporter, author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, and commencement ceremony boo-ee.

The first question asks when war is justified. He starts to respond by saying this:

There are times when people have no alternative but to resort to violence to defend themselves or to stop horrific acts of genocide and mass murder. But these extreme cases, to my mind, are the only times war can be justified.

So war is justified to:

1) Defend yourself.
2) Stop horrific acts of genocide and mass murder.

Is that about right?

The Persian Gulf War was one that had to be fought. Iraq carried out a naked act of aggression. The recent war with Iraq was not, to my mind, justified if one uses this criteria. We were not directly threatened by Iraq nor where any of our allies.

But wait a minute. Does the invasion of Kuwait qualify as either of the above conditions Hedges has already outlined as "the only times war can be justified"? We weren't defending ourselves, and though hundreds of Kuwait troops were killed in the invasion, Iraq's incursion into Kuwait could hardly be labeled genocide or mass murder, especially when stacked up against many other contemporary conflicts.

So I'm confused by Hedges' remarks.

Sounds to me like, using his own criteria, the first Gulf War wasn't justified.

And then he's asked about love, and he answers:

Love is the only antidote to war, not love in the abstract but love in the particular. This does not mean that we can, through love, eradicate war. But love protects us from the contagion and euphoria of war, for in the love of the other we find a wholeness and a completeness that gives us meaning and more importantly happiness. We do not, if we have love, need to seek this outside of our relationships. Love protects us from the cruelty of war. It protects us from the racism and intolerance and drive to dehumanize the other that comes with blind patriotism. When we can see love in others, even our enemy, that is like our own, we can forgive. And in forgiveness we can create a new narrative, one that saves us from the cycle of violence. I do not see love, however, as an alternative to war. I am not a pacifist. I see it as a protection from the contagion of war and from hate and from the lust of war, all those forces that can stunt and destroy a civilized society in wartime.

This is the sort of mushy-headed stuff that sounds nice, but really says nothing at all. Note these two statements in particular:

Love is the only antidote to war...


I do not see love, however, as an alternative to war.

Huh? It's an antidote, but not an alternative. Whatever, Chris.

This lets the author get away with sounding pseudo-profound, without actually offering anything substantive. Just love one another. M'kay.

How about this? Education is a preventative measure against war. So is secularism. So is democracy.

When was the last time two democracies went at it hammer-and-tongs?

It's not some nebulous notion of love (how do you implement that policy-wise, anyway) that will lessen the cycles of violence. The answers are rationalism and freedom.

Q: What is your definition of love?
Hedges: God.

Oh brother. Can I get that on a bumper sticker?

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