Tuesday, February 20, 2018

War Matters

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

“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

"Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."
― Martin Luther King Jr  c.1968

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

"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 and Where

Tuesday, February 20th,  7:00 to 8:45 pm
Friends University, William Penn Hall, Room 100 [west of Riney Fine Arts Center]

Panelists and Moderator [in progress]

Please welcome our 5 panelists and moderator [listed in order of acceptance]. Click their name to see a brief bio if we have it. And remember, they have busy lives so we do NOT ask them to provide a position statement or suggested readings in advance ... but if they do, we will provide links to those materials following their name/bio below ... and we encourage you to review them.
Marvin Martin - 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.
Dan Gates - 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 have a wish to see something of where they may be headed BEFORE embarking [aka intelligence].
... the remaining 3 panelists and
... the evening's moderator will be announced soon 👥
Bob Love [stand-by only panelist] - As the NSS trustee primarily responsible for organizing this symposium, Bob is actively searching for panelists and a moderator 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 if needed.

PS. Please let Bob know if you are aware of others who would like to serve as panelists for this important evening.

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 ideas into 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

Wealth of Nations V.1.0 [on national defense], Adam Smith 1776
US Constitution Article I, Section 8, Clause 12  [provisions for America's military] 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
"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

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]