BARRETT: War: what is it good for? (absolutely nothing)

Tom Barrett

With the numerous complications that have arisen as a result of the war in Iraq, it seems that it is time for the United States to take a new approach on handling international conflicts. The face of war has changed considerably, and changes must be made. The distinction between civilian and soldier has been blurred, and the means for destruction have increased exponentially. The conflict in the Middle East is a perfect example of these changes, but so are the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Decisive victories are becoming more and more difficult to achieve through armed conflict, and it is time to pursue a new approach on resolving conflicts. The United States is currently the world’s top economic and military power and could use its heavy international sway to lead this movement away from modern barbarity and toward globally acknowledged diplomacy.

The tremendous advances in technology have led to the creation of increasingly powerful, efficient and devastating weapons. While the United States clearly has the largest supply of such devices and is constantly adding to and improving upon its arsenal, increased means for destruction on a widespread scale have not escaped the hands of even the poorest militants. Wars used to be fought head on by two opposing armies. Now, precision missile strikes can be launched from miles and miles away that are able to take out large numbers of “targets” without ever seeing the whites of anyone’s eyes. Suitcase bombs can be planted virtually anywhere and are capable of obliterating a few city blocks. The potential for unprecedented numbers of casualties, civilian or solider, from single attacks is unnerving in itself, but the thought of escalation through retaliation is absolutely terrifying.

It is time to move away from using the threat of force as a primary means of negotiation because, in the not-so-distant future, there could easily be a series of back-and-forth attacks that no one will recover from. Nonviolent solutions to conflicts must be pursued sincerely. This can be done through a variety of means, including sanctions, simultaneous pressure from a number of countries or even incentives. The threat of violence will always have to be looming somewhere in the background, but it is imperative that it remains a last resort. In order for any of this to work, however, there must be cooperation on a global level. The United Nations provides a good means for this type of international partnership, but all members must actually honor the commitments they make and must have a sincere desire for stability. Being the world’s sole superpower, the United States should have the ability and responsibility to spearhead such a movement (that is, if there is a sincere desire for peace). Doing so would do much to create an improved image of the United States and lead to a more stable international community, but it would even do more than that. It would also protect the safety and well-being of U.S. citizens.


Tom Barrett is a sophomore philosophy major from Colonia, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected].