Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War by Samuel Moyn
In our time, swords have not been beaten into plowshares. They have been melted down into drones.
Did you know that Barack Obama launched more drone kill strikes than President Bush? Neither did I. This book chronicles the fight against war from the 1800s to present day. It gives details on the people who pushed to abolish war. It looked at the ebb and flow of public support for war, and various wars. It shows us how over the years we have moved away from advocating for no war, and instead trying to curb the excesses of war (torture, property damage, rape, water boarding). This has changed the focus of starting a war being a criminal act, to rather just punishing those who go 'to far' during war, judged by the sensibilities of the time.
We fight war crimes but have forgotten the crime of war.
This book makes me really sad. Instead of making war illegal, we have just set the 'rules' of the game. Now countries feel they are 'following the law' as they wage war and kill people. We have made made war moral. This means that instead of less war, we actually have more war, and wars last long...almost forever. How many years have the soldiers been in Afghanistan? Yes, we aren't seeing the wholesale slaughter of people as we did during WW1, WW2, and the Taiping Rebellion (1850 to 1864, 20-80 million dead), but is the alternative any better?
We now live in an age when the US, primarily anyways, can drop a missile on anybody almost anywhere in the country without remorse or repercussions from other countries. Just imagine living in a country where you have to live in fear from death raining from above at any moment, or becoming 'collateral damage' because you are in the wrong place, at the wrong place beside a 'terrorist', as defined by the USA. They have abolished capturing bad guys, and now just obliterate them. There is no appeal once you are blown into a thousand pieces. You have no chance to defend yourself in a court. You are just dead.
“War is represented as an unfortunate obligation thrust upon the exceptional nation, the United States, by a dysfunctional world which the United States has a salvationist responsibility to mend, albeit by force of arms,” writes the anthropologist Hugh Gusteron.
Is the US the only country to blame? No, but they are the country with the most nuclear weapons, drones, soldiers, and bases around the world. They also are the ones who violate borders the most often to police the world with their Predator/Reaper drones and the special forces.
Humans need to stop humanizing war, and just abolish war. One of the arguments from some people is that we've made war so 'humane', and unbrutal compared to before, that countries think nothing of going on a little war. There is little cost in terms of human lives, as long as you have enough money and tech.
First Sea Lord John Arbuthnot Fischer: “The humanizing of War!” “You might as well talk about humanizing Hell”
Martin Luther King: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Martin Luther King: “violence never brings permanent peace”
Book #99 in my #ReadingChallenge2021
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