Posted 10 months ago on Jan. 21, 2014, 3:46 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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On Ending War
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 10:18 By E. Douglas Kihn, Truthout | Op-Ed
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The evidence suggests there is no insurmountable human genetic predisposition to war, but human survival likely depends on assuring there be no more war.
Yogi Berra said it: "The future ain't what it used to be."
On August 6, 1945, our world changed forever. On that day, an entire metropolis was wiped out with one bomb dropped from one airplane. This singular event demonstrated conclusively that the human race had reached a crossroads: We are compelled to end warfare, or sooner or later warfare will end us. The great physicist Albert Einstein, one of the architects of the Bomb, said it first: "World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones," assuming of course that anybody survives World War III and the nuclear winter that would inevitably follow.
To those who claim that ending war is impossible, we must answer that giving up is not an option! Neither is burying one's head in the sand and pretending that nuclear holocaust can't happen.
We've been lucky so far. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by the US war machine in 1945, not a single atomic bomb has been used in warfare. There have been many close calls in the intervening years, and since the Cold War ended, conventional thinking has it that there is no longer any danger of nuclear war.
Don't fall for it. The USA is still "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," to quote Martin Luther King. According to Global Zero, a group that promotes eliminating all nuclear weapons, citing a Federation of American Scientists report, the United States has 7,700 nuclear warheads. The Department of Defense disclosed in 2012 that "as of September 30, 2009, the US stockpile of nuclear weapons consisted of 5,113 warheads."
These devices are armed and ready to do serious damage to our world. President Eisenhower wasn't kidding when he warned all of us in 1960 about the now-famous "military-industrial complex." Every day that goes by, we are one day closer to a nuclear disaster.
And not just from Washington. The rightwing misleaders in Tel Aviv, the saber rattlers in London, Paris and Moscow, the loose cannons in Pyongyang, and the nuclear standoff between India and Pakistan all hold the world hostage with threats of massive death from nuclear blasts, an irradiated biosphere and the dangerous precedent of the resumption of nuclear war. Nobody really seems to know for sure how many nukes really exist in the world. No one knows either how many are needed to end humanity, probably because it's never been tried. But there will be no winners in this game of Russian Roulette. That much we do know.
As their economic system continues to deteriorate and rebellions develop, an increasingly paranoid and irrational American oligarchy could conceivably initiate a first-strike against its perceived enemies, or use its nuclear arsenal to retaliate against the perpetrators of a nuclear 9/11.
Are Humans Genetically Predisposed to War?
Many will use their concept of biology as a reason to scoff at the suggestion that we must end war. But even if warfare is in our genes, we still have to change - or someday perish.
In this year of 2014, the majority of folks in the world would earnestly like to see an end to war in all its forms. The good news for them is that the overwhelming body of scientific evidence points to the conclusion that while we are very adaptable, we are not predominantly designed by nature for warfare. Space constraints allow us to review only a small sampling of this evidence.
The most immediate and dramatic evidence concerns the mental health problems of those people involved in war. The consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder for returning veterans of American wars are now commonplace news items. In World War I, they called it "shell shock" or "cowardice." Killing and maiming other people haunts war veterans for the rest of their lives. And for soldiers and civilians alike, the threat of being killed and the witnessing of war's destructiveness can and often does cause serious mental illness.
According to a September 21, 2013 report by CNN, 22 American veterans - one every 65 minutes - commit suicide every day. And this figure may be an underestimate. Not counted was Levi Derby, who was not in the VA system at the time. Levi "hanged himself in his grandfather's garage in Illinois on April 5, 2007. He was haunted, says his mother, Judy Casper, by an Afghan child's death. He had handed the girl a bottle of water, and when she came forward to take it, she stepped on a land mine."
In the same article, former US defense secretary Leon Panetta called the suicide rate among service members an epidemic.
There are species for which fighting amongst themselves is completely natural and causes no appreciable psychological harm. For example, communities of common chimpanzees (not to be confused with their and our peaceful and sexy cousins, the bonobo) will conduct violent raids on other chimp communities over scarce resources, sometimes causing fatalities. However, neither the losers nor the winners suffer nervous breakdowns nor suicides as a result of these confrontations. They just carry on life as usual.
Most animal species, however, go to great lengths to avoid fatal encounters with their own kind. That is a principal reason your dog loves those trees so much when you walk him. He's marking his boundaries in an effort to promote canine safety and harmony.
For a riveting first-hand account of how uncontaminated Stone Age forager-hunters avoid conflicts amongst themselves in the resource-rich environment of the Ituri rainforest of the Congo, read Clive Turnbull's observations of the M'buti people in his six-decade-old classic The Forest People.
The same author wrote another book titled The Mountain People, detailing the horrific violence amongst a people facing death by starvation in the Sahel region of East Africa.
Other modern forager-hunter tribes who regularly war on each other have been pointed to as proof that war is in our genes, so to speak. Discounting threatened starvation as the cause, these tribes usually practice ritual warfare in which only a few warriors are actually injured or killed. One could interpret this as infantile warfare, a childlike copying of warlike behavior practiced by surrounding "civilized" peoples.
Modern greed and bad manners can be infectious. In many recorded instances, people living with primitive technologies copy the behaviors of adjacent cultures that have advanced technologies. And in some instances, specifically in New Guinea and the Amazon rainforest, this can even lead to wars of extermination against neighbors once in a generation.
According to a November 15, 2013 report in the Huffington Post, more than 70 members of the US military encounter abusive sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault or are raped every day. That's three every hour. This is a clear indication of the deep demoralization that exists within this violent organization. But then, historically speaking, warriors have never been famous for their manners or respect for others.
What is military boot camp but a two-month course that attempts to mentally and physically break, i.e. brainwash, pliable 18-year-olds so they can be reprogrammed to operate against their natural inclinations of kindness, sharing and cooperation. Only in this way can they participate effectively in the ultimate form of competition - war.