Although this relates to a current issue, I put it in the philosophy section because it deals with the existence of evil and wordviews derrived from that... (oh and sorry for the length!) The Peace Cult, Part 1 of 3 I write this as the U.S. and Britain coalition forces exchange fire with Iraqi forces outside of Baghdad, Basra, and other locations after invading Iraq seven days ago. Still, the points I make here have always been applicable to the human condition and I am, by far, not the first to bring them up. As the hawks and doves clash over the war now taking place, it is important to note that both sides are talking past one another. This is typical in all major ideological battles, such as the abortion debate, capital punishment, and many religious and political issues. The hawks (like myself in this case) will talk about how UN Resolution 1441 specifically calls for “serious consequences” after Iraq has failed to “immediately and fully” disarm. They will point to evidence of Saddam Hussein’s chemical, biological, and nuclear ambitions, and previous knowledge that he had in his possession tons of weapons of mass destruction which were never accounted for. They will point out his motive and opportunity for using them on his neighbors and other nations. Hawks will also point out twelve years of failed sanctions, resolutions, and diplomatic efforts to disarm Iraq. But none of this seems to “reach” the doves. None of this means anything to them because, when one listens to what they are saying, one finds that they are making entirely different points and focusing on entirely different issues. This is because many of the doves in this case are operating off of a different world-view, a different set of value judgments, and a different ideology altogether. This ideology, like our own, affects the way one “measures up” the facts, and even affects the way one estimates what is and what is not a fact. I call this ideology the “cult of peace”. Perception of Evil: At the core of this ideology is a fundamental difference in how the subject of “evil” is perceived. People all over the globe have had different ideas about evil throughout history. There are both religious and secular ideas about evil. Although my concept of evil is more of a secular one, I do believe there is such a thing as evil. Not a disembodied force, per se, but a class of actions or motives that one can objectively describe as being evil in nature. However, members of the peace cult have entirely done away with the concept of evil altogether. Rather than address the issue, they have nihilistically relegated it to the status of “cultural fantasy.” In short, they do not believe such a thing as evil exists. How then do they explain all of the unfortunate behaviors of people, which lead to suffering in the world? Listening to their comments, it seems that it is all due to misunderstanding, inequity, needs, and ignorance. To be sure, these are the source of a great number of unpleasant conditions and events, but completely ignored are the examples of evil people with evil motivations. As someone put it to me once, “we [humans] are all just trying to get along as best as we know how.” I strongly disagree. There are those among us who know better, and are aware of better options, and yet willfully choose to be and do evil acts for their own selfish gain or power, simply because they feel they can get away with it - People with no conscience, no concern for others, and no intention of ever changing. The Peace cultist sees such people as simply being misunderstood, and thinks their behavior can be changed if we could just have a dialogue with them. If we could just find a way to meet our mutual goals peacefully all could be solved, so they believe. Again, in a huge number of cases this certainly is true. But the peace cultist, because they reject the concept of evil, lack the ability to distinguish between misunderstanding and being the target of those with plainly evil intentions. This is why the peace cultists think that continued “dialogue” and diplomacy with Iraq could work. They believe that if we could reach an understanding with Saddam Hussein that all could be accomplished. It is inconceivable to them that the objectives of Saddam could be our destruction for the purposes of bolstering his position of power, or even for its own malicious sake. In their minds, they believe he must want our destruction only because he seeks peace and security for him and his people and is mislead as to how to achieve it. He, so they believe, is simply enraged at injustices that have been done to him and Iraq. The peace cultist is completely incapable of understanding that Saddam would never disarm or stop plotting against other nations and terrorizing his people, regardless of what he understood, regardless of any dialogue, and regardless of what compromises were made. This is because they lack the understanding that there are truly evil people in the world with truly evil intentions. Saddam Hussein’s disingenuous diplomatic trickery, designed to look as though he is trying to comply and compromise, all too easily fools the peace cultist and only further enhances their delusional world-view. Moral Ambiguity: The inability to distinguish misunderstanding from evil also leads to some other logical errors by the peace cultist. Among them; the tendency to lump together all aggressive acts into one category of violence. Without the ability (or will) to recognize evil, every act of force appears to them to be the same as every other - all described simply as violence, and equally avoided at any cost. The acts of Allied forces liberating France are seen as equally unfortunate as the acts of Hitler’s army invading Poland. A man shooting a home invader to protect his family is seen as equally repulsive as a man shooting another in the street for his wallet. A murderer being executed is as horrible as the murders he committed. This and other equally ridiculous conclusions are the result of the peace cultist’s twisted world-view. Such nonsense is what leads them to constantly compare the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein with the U.S. and other free nations, as though they were legitimate equals. For instance, asking things such as “how would we feel if Saddam wanted our President to go into exile?” This is like asking, “How would the police like it if the bank robber arrested him?” A dictatorship is not the equivalent of a free democratic nation, and cannot be given equal legitimacy on the global stage. Any attempt to morally or legally equate the two in argument should be rightly rejected. One “reporter” in a radio program considered widely to be “left wing” asked recently if the U.S. could be convicted of war crimes because some of its missiles have hit civilian targets. This completely blew my mind. I can hardly believe that such people are not aware that civilians, unfortunately, have always died in wars and it is only the intentional targeting of civilians in war that is considered terrorism and a war crime. But, as usual, the peace cultist will lump together all war actions under one umbrella.