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Wars leave such a mess
The Orlando Sentinel - August 17, 1999
The thing about wars is that they always leave such a mess
by Charley Reese
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization stated that it dropped 1,500 cluster bombs on Kosovo. It has belatedly admitted it used depleted uranium shells. And, between the Serbs and the Albanians, there are left lying around some 500,000 mines.
The cluster bomb releases 150 to 200 bomblets. People on the ground, according to the New York Times, say about 30 percent failed to detonate and now represent an additional hazard to civilians and to the people who have to clean them up.
The World Health Organization said that, between June 13 and July 12, 130 to 170 people have been wounded or killed by leftover bomblets and mines. By now, more probably have been killed or injured, and certainly more people will be in the future.
Wars, even small ones, always leave such a mess: dead people, embittered people, maimed people, impoverished people, toxic contaminants and unexploded ordnance. But, on the other hand, some people can make money, provided that the war stays non-nuclear. Contracts -- contracts to do cleanups, contracts to do construction projects, contracts to supply this or that -- get handed out. And, naturally, all of the used ordnance has to be replaced.
It's funny how the more I've learned about the old world, the less enthusiastic I've become for any war. It seems to me the only really just war is a purely defensive one, and even just wars are bad experiences. Most of the wars are about territory and power. It seems most of them are real scams, too, because a small elite gets the economic and political benefits while the poor and middle-income folks do the fighting and suffering and dying.
If I weren't Celtic and ill-tempered, I'd probably be a pacifist.
You might think that it's a contradiction to be for a strong military and against war, but the best way to avoid a war is to be so strong that all your potential opponents will decide that discretion is the better part of valor. Of course, once you have a strong military, then you need to make sure you have wise and moral civilians in control of it. Otherwise, the civilians will abuse it by using it for nondefensive reasons, as our current leader is doing.
It's too bad international conflicts can't be resolved by cutting for high card or by at least having the heads of state decide the matter in a duel. It has been a long, long time since any head of state actually did any fighting. Still, it's fun to think of Saddam Hussein and Bill Clinton locked in a dark room with only one sharp knife on a table in the middle of it.
Please don't think me a cynic. I prefer to call my low expectations for the human race and new millennium "realism." Seems to me humans are remarkably unchanged for the past several millennia, once you discount the gadgets.
Worse for me, who has always been a staunch Jeffersonian, I'm beginning to think that Alexander Hamilton was right. He thought people were not competent to govern themselves. Hamilton's error, of course, was not to realize that the elitists were not competent to govern either.
That's the best argument for laissez faire -- the smallest, weakest government possible. Start with the proposition that even the smallest, weakest government will be badly run, and then you see the folly of giving bad managers even more power. An increase in power is an increase in the power to do evil as well as to do good. Given the nature of human beings, evil is the safer bet.
Most Americans, though, seem to believe that they are living in the best of all possible worlds. Well, it's certainly better than Yugoslavia and Iraq, both of which our best of all possible leaders have turned into toxic wastelands.
Link to 'Stop killing the people of Iraq'.
Link to the 'NATO Bombing - has it brought peace to the Balkans?' Alert.