Tuesday, February 20, 2018

War Matters

Historians say ...
"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in might ... otherwise, the strong do whatever they can and the weak suffer whatever they must.”
― Thucydides c.400 BC

"To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a wilderness, they call it peace."
― Tacitus c.100 AD

Soldiers say ...
“God of our fathers ... Strengthen my soul so that the weakening instinct of self-preservation ... shall not blind me to my duty to my own manhood, to the glory of my calling, and to my responsibility to my fellow soldiers. … Let me not mourn for the men who have died fighting, but rather let me be glad that such heroes have lived. If it be my lot to die, let me do so with courage and honor in a manner which will bring the greatest harm to the enemy, and please, oh Lord, protect and guide those I shall leave behind. Give us the victory.”
― George S. Patton c.1944

"Military power serves the cause of security by making prohibitive the cost of any aggressive attack … the cause of peace by holding up a shield behind which the patient constructive work of peace can go on. ... [But] every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower c.1958

Humanitarians say ...
"As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that [violence will] not solve their problems. ... But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? ... Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent."
― Martin Luther King Jr, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence, April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City

“Every 60 seconds 24 people flee their homes because of war.”
― International RESCUE Committee 2017

Statesmen say ...
"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
"Political Observations", James Madison 1795

What are the historically revealed causes, characteristics, consequences and alternatives of/to war as a "necessary evil" ... and how have they changed for us in America today?

Mark Twain once joked that “God created war so that Americans would learn geography.” But, perhaps, there are sobering truths hidden in his words that can provoke us to think more deeply.
  • How do wars start?
  • How does war depend on the "parties" [military, allies, proxies, civilians] and the "weapons" [trade, currency, cold-deterrence, conventional, non-conventional, mass-destruction] ?
  • Do wars depend on propaganda?
  • What are the costs and benefits of war ... and who are the winners and losers?
  • How do wars end?
  • Has war always been and will it always be necessary and/or evil?
To help us grapple with these and other questions about war, New Symposium Society is gathering [with your help?] another exceptional group of panelists from those in our community who have experienced and/or thought deeply about this troubling topic as they have viewed it [first hand and/or from afar] from differing vantage points over their lifetimes [long and short].

And although their collective wisdom will be great, we can still only hope to glimpse the distant outlines of such a vast and complex subject. Nevertheless it would seem to be an effort worth making in our day and time when "wars and rumors of wars" abound.

When, Where and a Flyer

Tuesday, February 20th,  7:00 to 8:45 pm
Friends University, William Penn Hall, Room 100 [west of Riney Fine Arts Center]
Here is a FLYER you can print and post appropriately to alert others about the meeting.

Panelists and Moderator 👥

Please welcome our 5 panelists and moderator [listed in order of acceptance]. Click their name to see a bio [if we have it]. And remember, they have busy lives so we do NOT require them to provide a position statement or suggested readings in advance ... but if they do, we have provided links to those materials following their name/bio below ... and we encourage you to review these links to get to know our panelists and moderator better.
Marvin Martin [panelist] - Marvin is a long standing member of and contributor to the Wichita community and well known to [and always in demand by] almost all of us for his friendly manners, his thoughtful insights and his firm convictions. As a young WWII combat veteran, Marvin returned to Wichita to embrace his adult life as a faithful husband, a loving father, and a distinguished jurist/lawyer [founder of the Martin Churchill law firm] … seeking to understand and further … law and order … liberty and justice … mercy and love.
#57 This time I don't even have to pack my bags
#58 Aliens and strangers in the world
for more reflections on life by Marvin go to http://fromgrandpawithlove.com/
Dan Gates [panelist] - As President & CEO of American Water Purification, Inc., Dan is a decorated Vietnam veteran from a military family who has given us a comprehensive position statement outlining his thoughts on war to help us organize our thoughts in advance ... an excellent strategy for those who wish to know where they may be headed BEFORE embarking [aka intelligence].

Holger Meyer [panelist] - As a physicist, Holger brings the powerful realities and sobering implications of science to our discussion of warfare ... a perspective that is analytical and ethical not political ... which can help us simplify [or avoid reaching] the "complications" which those with only a "just cause" for going to war always seem to encounter.

Andrew Veatch [panelist] - Andrew is the member of our panel who has had the least opportunity to consider war but is the most likely to fight and die as a combatant. On behalf of all "child soldiers" [see below], we need Andrew's generation to be more articulate and adamant ... since it is their futures which are being most affected by our wars. Thank Andrew for his thoughtful position statement.

Becky Elder [panelist] - Becky is known to most of us as a wife, mother and a teacher. The perspective she brings to us from her triple vantage point may help us to see a strategy and develop tactics that make war "less necessary" as the chosen pathway to reach our legitimate personal and social goals. Please read and feel free to "Reply" to Becky's blog "Comment" below summarizing her thoughts.
Thoughts on WAR from St. John
Russell Fox [moderator] - A distinguished and opinionated academic career in political science notwithstanding, Russell brings us the intimate and guiding presence of the classroom teacher ... one skilled in moderating dialogue to assist diverse participants to discover the answers which, as Socrates reminds us, they already knew. Russell has provided us with some initial thoughts which we have put into a Moderator's blog "Comment" below ... so read and "Reply" to Russell and help us "jump start" this dialogue.
Bob Love [stand-by panelist] - As the NSS trustee primarily responsible for organizing this symposium, Bob is actively searching for panelists and moderators to provide the perspectives needed to bring the "leviathan" of war into better focus. As usual, he sees war from a detailed economic point of view which he has also summarized and is prepared to share with us as a backup panelist. We can always count on Bob for an opening blog COMMENT or two below ... so watch our blog ... and learn how to enter into the blogging with your own COMMENTS and/or REPLIES.

PS. Please let Bob know if you are aware of others who would like to serve as panelists for this important evening, since sometimes "things change" and having good backups on short notice is a real blessing [ask any coach].

The Evening's Format    [is a little different ... so read this carefully]

The first half of the evening will consist of each panelist presenting an opening position statement about war per se. Due to the breadth and complexity of the subject, we will give the different panelists greater than normal latitude to help us gain an overall perspective of the different vital aspects of war and how they relate to and influence one another.

In the second half of the evening, we will depart somewhat from our normal procedure. Instead of simply probing the panelists' opening statements, we will be practically applying them. We want the audience to pose questions concerning the realities of war for Americans in the 21st century in light of what we have learned from our panelists. This will be a little different dynamic than normal, so bring thoughtful questions and be ready for some spontaneous responses from the panelists as they work together to apply general principles about war to the specific situations we are facing today ... putting static ideas into spontaneous practice ... something every soldier is required to do in combat !!

And for those of you who are inclined to get some questions out in the open for consideration BEFORE the evening's meeting ... feel free to join the liberales ... and blog your COMMENTS and REPLIES below as needed/wished to build some trains of thought for us.

NSS  Suggested Readings [with links]

Wealth of Nations V.1.0 [on national defense], Adam Smith 1776 
>> critical >> US Constitution Article I, Section 8, Clause 12  1789

Just War Theory and War Finance  Wikipedia
The Ethics of War, Bertrand Russell 1915
C.S. Lewis on War and Peace, CS Lewis Institute, David C. Downing
The Costs of War Project - Brown University Nov 2017
"No More Good Wars", A transcript of the Lew Rockwell Show podcast episode 431 with John Denson, LewRockwell.com, August 13, 2015

On War Propaganda
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” Voltaire
>> breaking news >> "The BIGGEST Secret", James Risen, The Intercept, 2018 
"The media’s role in war propaganda", Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop August 2005
"War, Propaganda and the Media", Global Issues, Anup Shah 2005
"Western Media Persists in Propaganda About Iraq’s Purported WMD", Foreign Policy Journal, Jeremy R. Hammond 2009
A Saudi Imam, 2 Hijackers and Lingering 9/11 Mystery, NYT, Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, June 2016
Did France convince NATO to overthrow Gaddafi to prevent the launch of a Pan-African Gold-Backed Currency and to seize Lybia's oil fields?, Horace Campbell and Mark Fancher, Democracy Now 2017

On Child Soldiers
"Older men start wars, but younger men fight them.” Einstein 
>> breaking news >> "Yemen's Child Soldiers", by Sarah El Sirgany, CNN, February 3, 2018
"Children in the Military", wikipedia
"The Disposability of Boys", Good Men Project
"Psychology of Child Soldiers", Carr Center Harvard
"Hitler Youth and Nazi Propaganda",  Master of Education

Online Books
The Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar  58-50 BC
War is a Racket, General Smedley Butler 1935
The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories, John V. Denson 2011 [highly recommended collection of cutting edge essays and letters]