Monday, May 02, 2005


War and Peace: Strange Bedfellows, But Bedfellows Nonetheless

[This is the transcript of a I gave to a local Toastmasters group a few years back. GAM]

When we look at the concepts of war and peace in the abstract, it
becomes clear that they can in no way be reconcilable. In the
concrete, however, they are often times not only reconcilable, but

This paradox is easily understood once we have considered the following two facts:

1.) It is the duty of those who govern to protect the peace of their respective nations or locales from all threats, foreign and domestic. 2.) As the testimony of human experience reveals, this often requires force.

On the domestic front, we have federal agencies such as the FBI,
Border Patrol, and the BTAF, and others who are entrusted with securing our borders and enforcing federal laws. Similarly, on the local level, we have city police departments, county sheriff departments, and state police that protect the peace of local communities.

While it is true that these officers are trained to diffuse dangerous situations without resorting to force, but it is unrealistic to expect someone who is in a violent, psychotic, or drug induced rage to sit in a “time out” chair, if you know what I mean. After all, law enforcement personnel don’t carry guns to make fashion statements. Force is required in these situations to protect communities.

This is even more true in regards to foreign threats. Veteran’s Day,
which we celebrate every year, is an indication that this fact is well
recognized. Why else would we set aside a day to honor those who have placed themselves at the service of war or its possibility? Since we live in a world that is, to varying degrees, hostile, a nation that is not protected militarily cannot be peaceful.

Again, recourse to arms should be a last resort, but the refusal
to use force when all diplomatic means to resolve the crisis have
been exhausted or shown to be impractical has never resulted in
peace, but has mutated into greater conflict. History is more
than generous in providing examples of this. I would like, with your
indulgence, to discuss one such example.

The year was 1938. A dispute between Nazi Germany and
Czechoslovakia had arisen involving German territorial claims to the
Sudetenland, which, according to the Treaty of Versailles, drawn up
after the end of the WWI, was part of Czechoslovakia. This crisis not only posed a threat to Czechoslovakia, but had ramifications for the whole of Europe. The European Allies, led by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, in their unwillingness to use force to come to the aid of Czechoslovakia, ceded to Hitler’s demands in a diplomatic
deal struck at Munich, Germany.

To be sure, Mr. Chamberlain’s intentions were to preserve peace, but
His act of appeasement unleashed the Hitlerian terror on Europe and
threatened the peace of all civilization, which took the second world war to finally repel.

In his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which is considered by many to be the definitive history of the Nazi period, author William Shirer affirms this view :

“ It was this writer’s impression in Berlin from that moment until the end that had Chamberlain frankly told Hitler that Britain would do what it ultimately did in the face of nazi aggression, the Fuehrer would never have embarked upon the adventures that brought on the Second World War—an impression which ahs been strengthened by the study of secret German documents. This was the well-meaning Prime Minister’s fatal mistake.”

Is this merely the fruit of historical hindsight or speculation? Not quite! October 5, 1938, just days after the Munich deal was finalized, Winston Churchill, who succeeded Chamberlain as Prime Minister a few years later, said the following in a speech to the House of Commons regarding the Munich agreement:

“We have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat. We are in the
midst of a disaster of the first magnitude. The road down the
Danube...the road to the Black Sea has been opened ...All the
countries of Mittel Europa and the Danube valley, one after another,
will be drawn into the vast system of Nazi politics ....radiating from
Berlin...And do not suppose that this is the end. It is only the

And so it was only the beginning, the beginning of the
horrors of WWII.

With this in mind, let us fast forward sixty-seven years to the
present day. Our present age, with its advances in technological and
cultural development, not to mention the greater benefit of historical
hindsight, has unearthed new ways of diplomacy and dialogue that enable us to solve disputes without recourse to arms in ways that have been previously unknown. At the same time,
however, as we have seen, particularly in light of 9/11 and
subsequent events, the threats to peace that necessitate the use of
force to repel, have become more sophisticated.

True peace is not a fleeting superficial cessation of hostilities
achieved by way of appeasing evil dictators. “That would be’” as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says, “like feeding an alligator hoping he will eat you last.” No, true peace is a safe, stable, and orderly freedom that is worth protecting, even if it means enduring the of horrors of war.


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