Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When Wisdom Lags Behind Technopower

by ALWYN MOSS

With passing day, the likelihood of war in the Gulf region grows despite the efforts of many people, in and out of the realm of international and national politics, to prevent another episode of military violence as a purported means of resolving the problems in Iraq; problems which many people in the world and in our own nation believe could well be handled through diplomacy and the ongoing U.N. weapons inspections.

Yet the almost hypnotic pull toward war, a war that will be dominated by another display of overwhelming high-tech weaponry, looks to prevail in the coming months.

After 9/11, “everything changed.” That was the prevailing theme of comments made in those terrible first weeks after the devastating events. Surely, this seemed as if it was one of the defining moments of human history calling for significant change. But what actually changed? Or did the response to 9/11 simply accelerate the slippery slope humanity has been on since the end of World War II?

The sense of fear we experienced in September 2001 is certainly not diminishing. Almost every new episode of violence is countered by a response of equal or greater violence. Yet to lay the cause of today’s worldwide insecurity exclusively at the door of terrorism and “rogue nations” is to avoid seeing the long-term perspective and threats of our time and the future.

I refer to the widening gap between the magnitude of humankind’s high-technological capacities in the realm of weaponry and warfare, as compared to our limited ability to resolve disputes peacefully. In this dilemma we can, to some extent, foresee the greatest danger of all for this planet and its people. Soon after the dropping of the two atomic bombs on Japanese civilian centers at the end of World War II, Albert Einstein, whose discoveries went a long way toward making such weaponry a reality, is quoted as saying: “Everything has changed – except the way we think.”

“If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.”

More than 50 years later, we see the awesome but tragic unfolding of a new phase in human history. Our unlimited technology advances and the rapid spread of their use throughout the planet – without a consequent growth of restraint and wisdom – are leading to an unprecedented imbalance in almost every sphere affecting human life and the health of the planet.

Unlike earlier periods, our abilities today to inflict massive destruction on an “enemy” are limited only by the scope of our imaginations. The U.S. arsenal of military weaponry, including missile and nuclear technology, is extraordinary. Yet the patience and wisdom required to seek and utilize methods alternative to brute violence is in short supply.

We persist far too often in the belief that we can control or end opposing ideas we deem evil through our overwhelming military power rather than dealing with international conflicts by nonviolent methods. Despite the growing realization that all beings deserve respect, and that the mass killing of civilians in war is unacceptable, even when classified as “collateral damage,” it is still possible to win support for intense military violence if the case for war is presented with sufficient arguments and “facts” to bolster the image of a fearful enemy.

There is nothing new in the way governments and their leaders use simple psychology tactics to bring the public on board when they believe it is in their interest to do so. At the Nuremberg trials after the end of World War II, Hermann Goering, a high-ranking Nazi official in Germany, stated: “It is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of their leaders. That is easy. All you have to tell them is that they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

There is something very strange and troubling when the world’s foremost military power; the only nation to possess thousands of nuclear bombs, nuclear weaponry, missiles; the only nation to have actually used atomic bombs on a civilian population, demands the total disarmament of a small, devastated nation under threat of pulverizing that nation into total submission and regime change.

Incredibly, this threat includes the possible use of nuclear weapons to deal with the possibility that the other nation might have some nuclear capability.

We would like to believe that the United States could be the force of change that might deliver humanity from its present misery, often as not due to poverty aggravated by endless wars. Yet it is well known that the United States leads the world in sales of weapons of every variety. The character and quality of a nation – even a superpower – can be judged by its priorities. A look at the figures describing our global military expenditures tell the story.

The United States will spend $343 billion this year (and increasing amounts each coming year) for military expenditures. All our allies combined will spend $205 billion in 2003, China $42 billion, Russia $60 billion, while all the so-called rogue states’ military budgets will not exceed $14 billion.

It is not difficult to foresee an abyss into which many centuries of ethical-moral progress may fall. At a time when the technology of war has succeeded in making weaponry more lethal, while bestowing an aura of surgical cleanliness as a way of having modern warfare seem more “acceptable,” it is essential that we not lose the moral foundations of our humanity, still striving to affirm the value of all life against the tremendous odds of a power-dominated planet.

As one of millions of Americans who can see no legitimate reason for a new war, and who has tried to speak sanity to our current leadership, I wonder how we shall endure the anguish of watching the needless massacre of innocent lives and the devastation of fragile regions of our precious Earth. How shall those of us who truly believe that violence only begets more violence, and that the risks of peace are far less than those of war, walk on and not despair?

ALWYN MOSS lives in Blacksburg, Virginia. She is a writer, art teacher and member of the Society of Friends. Moss can be reached at: alwyn24060@yahoo.com

 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
Michael J. Sainato
How the Payday Loan Industry is Obstructing Reform
Robert Fantina
You Can’t Have War Without Racism
Gregory Barrett
Bad Theater at the United Nations (Starring Kerry, Power, and Obama
James A Haught
The Long, Long Journey to Female Equality
Thomas Knapp
US Military Aid: Thai-ed to Torture
Jack Smith
Must They be Enemies? Russia, Putin and the US
Gilbert Mercier
Clinton vs Trump: Lesser of Two Evils or the Devil You Know
Tom H. Hastings
Manifesting the Worst Old Norms
George Ella Lyon
This Just in From Rancho Politico
September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
Gareth Porter
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]