Virtuous motives, trammeled by inertia and timidity, are no match for armed and resolute wickedness. A sincere love of peace is no excuse for muddling hundreds of millions of humble folk into total war. The cheers of the weak, well-meaning assemblies soon cease to count. Doom marches on.
Winston Churchill said that in 1936, when most people were sure that the League of Nations could work things out with the National Socialists. Extremism comes from poverty and perceived foreign threats, so if we can just talk softly and back out quietly, everyone will leave eachother alone, all’s well. Besides, “wickedness” just comes from poverty and misunderstanding, so if we can fix those, all’s well…
We still think that way. I think we will be forgiven for all of it. Except maybe not for the lives of the ones who are butchered like cows, while we have the power to stop it, but do nothing. Yes, they are on the other side of the world, but does that make it none of our business? I’m a child of globalization, and it’s hard for me to draw lines and ignore atrocities because “it’s not us, it’s them”. In my mind, all that talk just seems fancy talk. There can only be us. People are people. People should help people.
During the Cold War, people who were trying to be noble and peace-loving in the democratic world, would talk about being nice and overlooking the improprieties of what was done by communists to people in communist countries, because, well that was their business. But to those who are getting kicked in the face, stripped naked, beaten, molested, and shot… it doesn’t feel noble at all, that someone with power and freedom far away, is willing to turn a blind eye to your suffering, because, well, you are a different kind of human in their book, and apparently your abuser just happens to be with you in the “them” category, so nothing should be done. They are being noble, ignoring stuff like that, while the news covers petty injustices done by those in the faraway “us” category.
For those suffering in the “them” category, it doesn’t look noble at all.
And when the naivete of the attempted noble one is finally shattered…. what will replace it? Frustrated ill-thought-out counter-attacks? The equivalent of shooting with your eyes closed, hoping you hit “the bad guys”? That’s what drones seem to me, when you have no ground support to make sure where you are actually hitting the right targets and not a houseful of civilians. If you are going to shoot, don’t do it with your eyes closed.
When the bitterly frustrated ex-idealist finally goes to war…. O God help us.