Rejecting reason

This morning, the Boston Globe featured a column by a fellow named James Carroll. In the piece, entitled “Reject The War,” Carroll goes all out to convince us that war is bad.

He starts out with the classic gut-shot: the nightmare of a parent outliving a child. Then he goes back to the story of Genesis, and how Adam and Eve were confronted with one of their sons killing the other.

Then, having worked his readership into an emotional lather, he moves on to the Middle East. Apparently, if it wasn’t for the United States, there would be no problems between the Palestinians and the Israelis. (I presume they’d just find a way to coexist peacefully, and not that one side would wipe the other out.)

He concludes with the ever-popular “if we stop fighting, they’ll stop too” notion.

Apparently Mr. Carroll has overlooked a rather lengthy chunk of human history since Genesis. Wars and conflicts end in many ways:

1) One side utterly exterminates the other.

2) One side defeats the other so thoroughly that the beaten side surrenders.

3) Both sides agree to stop the fighting and settle matters without further conflict.

I am trying to recall an instance where one side simply stopped fighting and asked the other side to do the same. I’m no historian, but it seems to me that such a momentous event would stand out — and none comes to mind. I do, however, recall several attempts at it (the Viet Nam war comes to mind, when we would make “gestures of good will” to promote negotiations), and it seems that those times it didn’t work out well at all.

Mr. Carroll is resorting to the cheapest of tactics, the emotional appeal over reason, and it isn’t even a good one. Instead, we have the standard talking points — “it’s all America’s fault,” “if we stop killing them, then they’ll stop killing us,” and “violence is bad.” The only new thing about it is tying it to the Bible.

It’s a damned shame what passes for reasoned argument at the Boston Globe.

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