The Myopia of Pacifism

Pacifists called for restraint following the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, after the 1998 attacks on US embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania and following the suicide assault on the navy ship, USS Cole, outside Yemen. The US government, pacifying the pacifists, chose to do nothing beyond a token retaliatory act in response to each of these crimes. The price for this restraint is unmistaka

Contributing Author,

Writing on the wall: Death to Jews
Writing on the wall: Death to Jews
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In the aftermath of the attack on America, voices from the United States and around the world are calling for restraint and a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The way to fight terrorism, they claim, is not through force - violence only begets more violence. Opposing the retaliatory use of force, however, is a sign of short sightedness. In the immediate future, avoiding a comprehensive military response against terrorism will indeed prevent bloodshed; in the long run, refraining from the use of force will lead to much worse consequences.

It is hard to believe that following the worst terrorist attack in history ? the murder, carnage, massacre, barbarity ? people are still advocating pacifism. Can one get any more concrete proof of the dangers of pacifism than what we witnessed one month ago? Pacifists called for restraint following the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, after the 1998 attacks on US embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania and following the suicide assault on the navy ship, USS Cole, outside Yemen. The US government, pacifying the pacifists, chose to do nothing beyond a token retaliatory act in response to each of these crimes. The price for this restraint is unmistakable and unfathomable: the very people who should have been hunted and destroyed with the full force of America's might ? the actual terrorists and those who harbor them ? have now murdered thousands of people.

Pacifism appeals to many people on an emotional level; whereas, the horrors of war appeal only to a few, the terrorists among them. No civilized person would prefer war and bloodshed to peace and negotiation, but emotions and preferences are insufficient criteria for evaluation. The standards we must apply when judging whether an idea - pacifism or war ? is valuable or not must be founded in rational principles that are connected to reality.

Pacifism is based on a detached understanding of reality ? on fantasy, not on fact, on emotion, not on reason. For those who still advocate a peaceful resolution following the murderous attacks, it seems that wishful thinking has obscured the facts. Years of indoctrination by our leaders and intellectuals, advocating pacifism and turning the other cheek, is preventing people from seeing the glaring truth through the stillness of more than six thousand corpses. The blind have made others blind.

The professed and worthy ideal of pacifism is to attain a resolution without shedding blood. The underlying sentiment behind pacifism is compassion and mercy ? human, and potentially humane, emotions. Yet mercy and compassion detached from reality produce disastrous consequences. Those who have mercy on the cruel, goes the Talmudic saying, will ultimately be cruel to the merciful. The philosopher Edwin Burke recognized that ?All it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.? Kennedy knew this when he dealt with the Russians during the Cuban missile crisis and Bush must know this in dealing with the threat of world terrorism.

The formula of the pacifists for attaining peace is nothing short of immoral, when on the other side of the negotiating table sit confirmed villains in the form of Osama Bin Laden, Yasser Arafat, Mohammad Khatami, Bashar Al-Assad, Mulla Mohammad Omar and other dictators whose hands are dripping with the blood of innocent people. Exercising restraint when dealing with an unscrupulous aggressor produces the same results as pulling the trigger on the innocent.

In the current call for appeasement, those who categorically oppose the use of force against the terrorists are ignoring the lessons of history, yet again. In 1981, when Israeli war planes disabled some of Iraq?s nuclear capabilities, the world roared with indignation. Israel was condemned, almost universally, for its unprovoked aggression. Ten years later, during the Gulf War, this ?act of aggression? prevented a potential nuclear catastrophe.

In 1939, when British prime minister Neville Chamberlain returned from his meeting with Hitler he declared that ?We have peace in our time.? Most people heralded Chamberlain as a hero for his ability to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis with Nazi Germany. Yes, Chamberlain did bring peace to the world ? for one year. Ultimately his (lack of) action helped to bring about the greatest devastation the world has ever known.

Upon Chamberlain?s return, Churchill, who understood the philosophy of the Nazis in particular, and of evil in general, said about Chamberlain: ?He was given the choice between war and dishonor. He chose dishonor and he will have war anyway.? Similarly, a US retaliation is not merely a matter of honor - of bringing the perpetrators to justice and making them pay for the attack. Doing nothing in response to the attack will also bring about a greater war and calamity. It will send out an open invitation to other enemies of freedom to commit similar acts without fear of being punished.

As terrorists are becoming more and more sophisticated, and as some terror sponsoring countries are acquiring weapons of mass destruction, the free world cannot afford to be myopic. We must look beyond the immediate and painful consequences of war and we must do everything that we can to avoid the horrific, albeit deferred, consequences of turning the other cheek. While the intentions of pacifists are most likely good, they are paving the road to a worse hell than what we witnessed in the September 11th attack on America.
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Tal Ben-Shahar, a teacher and lecturer, writes extensively on education, philosophy, psychology and politics and published the book "Heaven Can Wait" in 1998.




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