• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

War Corrupts

War licenses destruction, breaking the bodies and land and will of the enemy. War is a condition that suspends human respect and care and authorizes destruction.

Americans accept the idea of war; we launch war on poverty and war on terror-invoking an abstraction seen as good to kill abstractions seen as bad. If poverty and terror should be destroyed why and how is war the the weapon? War corrupts, breaks, ruptures, ruins. It does not build, nurture, create. It destroys, some argue, in order to create. It transforms its acts of terror and cruelty by that good intention into good and reasonable actions. The figure invokes sanitation or surgery or violence as cleansing in itself.

So for many war is a noble self-sacrificing action, heroic. Killing and dying and maiming and ruining and ravaging, burned children, tortured innocents, fold into a drama of metaphysical good and evil. Individuals are melded and subsumed into abstract objectives and tactics. War is humanity’s most persistent madness.

Why do we admire it? Why praise it, why say we must win? Plato said all wars came from the body, from greed to own and feed. Plato blamed the body and trusted mind which more surely causes war by its will to dominate.

Why, more to the point, do we believe destruction is good? Perhaps it’s a deep birth metaphor: bloodiness, pain, and labor produce a child when the struggle is over. Aztecs thought warriors who died in battle and women who died in childbirth were entitled to special recognition in the afterworld. Warriors who face death before their natural time are counted noble when they die. Americans want to see the dead from the Iraq war as heros even when they die by friendly fire or accident or doing their job as soldiers. Achilles in the Greek underworld chides Odysseus who praises him as the most honored warrior of all. Achilles says he’d rather be a live slave than a dead hero. And this very sobering line is cited by Plato as one of the dangers of poets. Such sentiments aren’t good for society he says. How will we persuade young men to fight, he asks, when the greatest national hero says heroism’s a hoax?

Our politicians are afraid to be anti-war. Being willing to kill and attack are thought required postures. They pose like strongman Saddam, thinking that to show ‘weakness’ about warring will invite the aggression of those who brandish better. The cowboy diction of taking out the bad guy infects all. We know now that nuclear war over Cuba was averted over 45 years ago by a Russian submarine officer who countermanded a direct order to shoot nuclear missiles at the American embargo ships. It was very close, it almost happened.

War not only destroys bodies and land and community of the ‘enemy’. It corrupts the human conscience of the aggressor. This is why warmongers always argue their war as righteous, revenging attack, as the action of victims not violators. Intentions do not change the acts.

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
David Yearsley
Hard Bop and Bezos’ Balls
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail