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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Disturbing Bellicism: Fan Curve of War

Yes, war is sometimes justified. But peace should not be despised just because it requires lazy compromises.

Euin tree grows in a Russian rocket, street scenes in Lviv

Art made from rocket parts: Street scene in Lviv, Ukraine, March 2023 Photo: Olena Znak/AA/picture alliance

The world is in flames in every corner and the war is getting closer, both in reality and in reality. I have to admit – and I’m not the first to notice this – how bitter I find the callousness of many of my contemporaries. 1,400 brutally murdered people, women, children, men, old people, party teenagers murdered in a bloodlust; a massacre that is unparalleled in its perfidy and murderous spirit, and so many empty, stale words.

Whether the carnage is everyone “Contextualization” withdrawn or not is initially a secondary matter. You can ponder about contexts – whatever they are – but please not with this callousness. Those who shouted that every “but” is forbidden are certainly questionable, because if you want to think about an event, you will never be able to do without “buts”. That’s why Navid Kermani correctly formulated that it’s not the “but” that’s the problem, but rather what comes before the word. It’s not the “but” that’s the problem, but the coldness that precedes it.

I am hardly less disturbed by the war lust of so many who trumpet that the actions of Hamas and the Islamist death sect’s hatred of people justify any form of military counterattack. Suddenly people around me are unmasking themselves and are bluntly saying that when it comes to Israel’s right to self-defense, please don’t talk about anything sweet about it. When Dresden was leveled, no thought was given to the civilian population.

Where the righteous fights against evil, that’s where we want to be but not bean counters and somehow most of those who get caught deserve it, you can’t know for sure, a bomb like that doesn’t have eyes. Suddenly you find yourself thinking that your own friends could also carry out such a massacre if you just give them enough arguments to ensure that it hits the right people. I imagine a few dear buddies as killers and a chill runs down my spine.

Those who pursue major goals for humanity as a whole tend not to attach great importance to the individual

The remnants of my philanthropic gullibility help me to suspect that most people don’t really enjoy the suffering of others, but that we are all apparently relatively good at treating the suffering of those marked as “the others” as something abstract, so that we can ignore it.

There is a propensity for war that has been spreading for years. Quite justifiable, by the way: What was called “human rights bellicism” in the 1990s was based on the assumption that wars are the lesser evil, at least relative to autocrats who massacre their own population. At the same time, wars were perceived as “feasible”. And soon as a solution to every problem.

It is no coincidence that these years coincided with the moment when the war was presented to us in the form of aseptic aerial photographs, where pretty bombs were dropped on little men and everything looked like in a computer game. And if it sadly happened to uninvolved unlucky people, they also had cute terms ready: “collateral damage,” which sounded more like a burst water pipe than a mass grave.

Democracy with cruise missiles?

I don’t want to denounce it; the interventions in Bosnia (which resulted in the Dayton Accords) and those in Kosovo were certainly better than the non-interventions in Rwanda. I just tend to ponder and ask myself the question: What are we bargaining for, what are we getting that we didn’t want?

Wars against dictators like Putin, against Islamic and fascist death cults, they are just as real wars as the wars of the Allies against the Nazis or of liberation movements against soldiery. But what is somewhat lost is the fact that good, democratic, philanthropic things are usually difficult to spread with cannons and cruise missiles, and that little plants of future civilization do not always grow on the graves of those who unfortunately did not survive their liberation.

Those who pursue major goals for humanity as a whole often tend not to attach great importance to the individual person. Wars for a just cause also devastate countries and destroy lives. “Peace is not everything, but everything is nothing without peace,” said Willy Brandt.

We (still) sit in the spectator stands (and sometimes in the fan corner); Battle hunters in the war against evil, and sometimes I suspect that a kind of borrowed heroism is also at play here. In the post-heroic society, people want a few crumbs of heroism, they exhibit unconditionality and decisiveness. As long as all that is far away. It’s better not to bet on it staying that way.

Rehabilitated the war

The veneer of civilization is thin. When societies get on a downward slope, things go downhill faster than you thought. Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein addressed this unpleasant fact with great reverence in their legendary correspondence “Why War?”: that modern wars are waged by modern people “at least as cruelly, bitterly, mercilessly” as earlier ones, driven by “hatred and disgust.” . If, in a mass psychosis, one manages to mark one’s own cause as just, but the other side as somehow inhumane, then “hatred and destruction” will quickly take hold.

I have worries. Step by step we have rehabilitated war and learned to despise peace because the latter so often demands lazy compromises and the line between clever diplomacy and appeasement is not exactly marked on any map. I have heard many clever opinions in the past few weeks and also some phrases and many slogans. But perhaps, I think to myself, we hear one thing too rarely: “War on war.”

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