Some Notes on the Gulf War
(Written in 1991 before the First Gulf War)
By Wendell Berry
I. We went to war in the Middle East because our leaders believed that war was their only choice. If this war had been an issue only of the present time, as our leaders would like us to think, any discussion of its origins or effects would be pointless. But we know that this war descended from a history of war and that it evokes the fear of other wars that may descend from it. To ask, in the circumstances of that history and that fear, if war should have been the only choice is to imply no disrespect toward our country but merely to do one's duty as a citizen and a human being.
II. This latest war has been justified on a number of grounds: that it was a war to liberate Kuwait; that it was a war to defend "the civilized world" against a dangerous maniac; that it was a war to preserve peace; that it was a war to inaugurate a "new world order"; that it was a war to defend the American Way of Life; that it was a war to defend our supply of cheap oil. These justifications are not satisfactory, even when one supposes that they are sincerely believed.
III. What can we mean by the statement that we were "liberating" Kuwait? Kuwait was not a democratic nation. If it was imperative to "liberate" it after Saddam's invasion, why was it not equally imperative to "liberate" it before? And why is it not equally imperative to liberate Tibet or China, for instance, or any of the other nations under non-democratic rule? In the Gulf War, we who are the children of a revolution against monarchy were fighting a dictator to "liberate" a monarchy; meanwhile, the former Soviet Union was suppressing, with little objection from us, an authentic movement for liberty in the Baltic nations.
IV. It may be true that Saddam Hussein is a dangerous madman. But this justification seriously embarrassed our claim to be able to control or limit the violence of the war. Madmen are by definition out of control, as Saddam Hussein's attacks on Israel and his release of oil into the Persian Gulf pretty well prove. In dealing with a madman, people of common sense try not to provoke him to greater acts of madness. How Saddam's acts of violence were to be satisfactorily limited or controlled by our own acts of greater violence has not been explained.
V. This war was said to be "about peace." So have they all been said to be. This was another in our series of wars "to end war." But peace is not the result of war, any more than love is the result of hate or generosity the result of greed. As a war in defense of peace, this one in the Middle East has failed, as all its predecessors have done. Like all its predecessors, it was the result of the failure, on the part of all of its participants, to be peaceable.
VI. If this was a war to bring about a "new world order," then we needed to deal with the fundamental incompatibility between order and victory-which we did not do. The contemplated "new world order" was presumably one to be presided over, enforced, and exploited by a newly victorious United States. But Victory for some requires defeat for others. And those who have been defeated will not be satisfied for long with an order founded on their defeat. One such victory will sooner or later require another. In fact, this war produced not order but disorder probably greater than the disorder with which we began. We have by no means shown that disorder can be put in order by means of suffering, death, and destruction.
VII. One is constrained to believe, therefore, that this was a war in defense of the American Way of Life, a way of life that is dependent on cheap oil from the Middle East. What the war was "about" was power-military power fighting for the security of petroleum power and for the power, ease, and wealth that come from the exploitation of petroleum power.
VIII. But we must also consider the possibility that this war happened not because we had a purpose in fighting it but simply because we were prepared for it, because we wanted to show what could be accomplished by our terrible new weapons, and because we "needed" just the sort of victory that we won. It is well understood that the mere possession of any piece of equipment is a powerful incentive to use it. Our aimlessness and apparent bewilderment in the aftermath of the war may be an indication that the war itself was virtually without a purpose.
IX. A number of things about our attitude toward this war were troubling, and the most troubling was our willingness to impose the whole burden of it on the young people in the military services and their families. We were evidently determined to preserve at all costs a way of life in which we will contemplate no restraints. We sent an enormous force of our young men and women to kill and to be killed in defense of our oil supply, but we have done nothing to conserve that supply or to reduce our dependence on it. We will not ration petroleum fuels. We will not mention the possibility of more taxes. We wish to give our people the impression that except for their children, nothing will be required of them.
X. About equally troubling is the tone of technological optimism that accompanied the war's beginning and that still surrounds it. The assumption on the part of the newspeople and evidently on the part of many of our politicians and military experts has been that this was a war of scientific precision and predictability, that we knew exactly what we were doing, what was involved, how long it would take, and what the results would be. Reporters' questions to the officials and generals were premised on the assumption that this "operation" was one in which somebody knew everything and was in control. There was a great deal of awed discussion of "smart bombs," "the weapons of tomorrow," and so on. Of course, anyone who uses tools can testify that results invariably become more complex and less predictable as force is increased. When our leaders talked about the results of this war, they were talking about victory and the political order that presumably would be imposed (for a while) by the victor. They were not talking about the deaths and griefs, the economic destructions, the intensified hatreds and resentments, the changed patterns of poverty and wealth, and the ecological damages that would also be results and that would not be readily predictable or controllable. The confession, by certain pro-war politicians, that some of the disorderly and lamentable results of the war were "not foreseen" was surely the war's most foreseeable result.
XI. Closely connected to this technological optimism is the renewed whistling in the dark of American nationalism. The war has been seized on as evidence that "America is not in decline." And there has been more talk of "the world's highest standard of living," "the world's biggest gross national product," "the world's most influential and powerful country. "Much of this talk about our power and wealth is, of course, true, but it is also true that we are in decline. Our wealth is great, but our economy has been seriously damaged by the greed, selfishness, and shortsightedness that have become its ruling principles. Our power is great, but in spite of its vaunted precision, it is applied more and more ruthlessly and clumsily. We are increasingly making this a nation of peace, security, and freedom for the rich. We are at present completing the economic destruction of our rural and agricultural communities. We are destroying our farmlands, our forests, our water sources. We are polluting the air, the water, the land. We have almost done away with the private ownership of usable property and with small, private economic enterprises of all kinds. Our professions have become greedy, unscrupulous, and un-affordable. Our factory products are shoddy and overpriced.
If we are the most wealthy and powerful country in the world, we are also the most wasteful, both of nature and of humanity. This society is making life extremely difficult for the unwealthy and the unpowerful: children, old people, women (especially wives and mothers), country people, the poor, the unemployed, the homeless. We are failing in marriage and failing our family responsibilities. The number of single-parent households is increasing. Our children are ill raised and ill taught. We are trying-and predictably failing-to replace parenthood and home life with "day care" and with school. Our highways, shopping malls, nursing homes, and day-care centers are full; the homeless are everywhere in our streets; our homes are empty. We are suffering many kinds of damage from sexual promiscuity. We are addicted to drugs, to TV, and to gasoline. Violence is literally everywhere. While we waged war abroad, an undeclared civil war was being fought every day in our streets, our homes, our workplaces, and our classrooms.
And none of these problems can be corrected merely by wealth, power, and technology. The world's most powerful military force cannot help at all.
XII. The circumstances of this war made obscure such apparently simple questions as "Who is the enemy?" and "Whom is this war against?"
XIII. The enemy was said to be Iraq, or Iraq as ruled by Saddam Hussein. But in Iraq under the rule of Saddam Hussein, we faced an enemy who had been armed, fortified, equipped, trained, and encouraged by ourselves and our friends. Our government gave aid to Saddam Hussein, indulged his human rights abuses and his use of poison gas, and encouraged him to think that we would not oppose his ambitions. We sold him equipment that could be used to develop nuclear weapons, missiles, and poison gas. We sold him toxins and bacteria that could be used in biological warfare. If this was a war against a "foreign enemy," it was also a spasm of our own corporate and professional anarchy.
XIV. It was, as any war must be, in part a war against ourselves. Even in winning, we lost. Many of our young people were killed or hurt-though we look on this as a bargain price for the massive slaughter of our enemies. Our war industries are richer, but as a nation we are poorer. And though we have achieved "victory" by the damage that we did in the Middle East, we are poorer for that damage as well.
XV. It was not just Saddam Hussein's world that we damaged; it was our world. As every modern war has been and must be, this was a war against the world. In order to damage Saddam Hussein and his people, we damaged the earth. In order to protect himself and his people, Saddam Hussein damaged the earth. There was much talk in the press of Saddam Hussein's "crime" of releasing oil into the Persian Gulf. And yet we knew that he could and probably would do this; it was something we were willing to risk. It was the sort of thing that will inevitably happen in industrial warfare in industrial nations. Let us admit that the only solution to "world problems" that is in keeping with our military means is the destruction of the world.
XVI. A war against the world is helplessly a war against the people of the world. Against everybody. The innocent. The children. Increasingly, as modern militarism builds and brawls over the face of the planet, people of ordinary decency are thinking of the children. What about the children? we ask as our leaders acknowledge the inevitability of "some civilian casualties" or "collateral casualties," as they put it. But we are thinking not just of the children who are living beneath the bombs. We are thinking, too, of our own children to whom someone must explain that some People-including some of "our" peoplelook on the deaths of children as an acceptable cost of victory.
XVII. There is no dodging the fact that war diminishes freedom. This war increased government secrecy (which is at any time a threat to freedom) and imposed government censorship of the press. And it increased governmental and popular pressure toward uniformity of thought and opinion. War always encourages a patriotism that means not love of country but unquestioning obedience to power. Freedom, of course, requires diversity of opinion. It not only tolerates political dissent but encourages and depends on it. Nevertheless, it was only to be expected that some of the voices calling for the "liberation" of Kuwait were also calling for censorship of the press and suppression of dissent in the United States.
XVIII. We concluded in 1945, after our atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that we had made war "unthinkable"and we have gone on thinking of it, preparing for it, fighting it, suffering from it, and profiting from it ever since. But now, having completed our third major war since 1950, it does not seem at all farfetched to suggest that even socalled conventional war has become not only unthinkable but obsolete-for the reasons that I have given: that it is impossible to foresee or to limit its results; that in a "global economy," the designations of "enemy" and "friend" are increasingly difficult to define; that every industrial war is now a war against everybody and against the world; that children and other innocents are impossible to exempt from physical danger; that even wars fought "for freedom" diminish freedom. War is obsolete, in short, because it can no longer produce a net good, even to the winner.
XIX. The concept of "righteous war," as our leaders should be aware, is certainly obsolete. Modern warfare is an absolute evil; it is Hell, as William Tecumseh Sherman rightly said. And it is impossible for leaders or nations to exempt themselves from that evil while using it. Any leader of a modern military power-whatever the allegations or proofs of the evil of the enemy-is a leader by virtue of his or her willingness to inflict unprecedented destruction and suffering on innocent humans, on Innocent nonhuman creatures, and on the earth.
XX. But even if such a war could be righteous, it would still cost too much in lives, in ecological health, and in money to be affordable. History and our own experience inform us that we can expect to deal with tyrants, aggressors, and even madmen or madwomen with some frequency. It is obvious that we cannot frequently afford to send a massive military force to a battlefield thousands of miles from home.
XXI. If modern warfare is obsolete and unaffordable, then how could we have committed ourselves in the Middle East to the most modern of all wars? We did so, I would argue, because such a war is an implicit requirement of our ruling economic assumptions. This was a "free market" war-the result of bad foreign policy that was, in turn, the result of bad domestic policy.
XXII. The "free market" theory holds that the use and distribution of the material goods of the earth should be determined exclusively by economics. It holds that all that is needed in order to have a sufficiency of goods is purchasing power. It discards any idea of local or national self-sufficiency in favor of a "world market," free of obstructions to international purchasing power. It proposes that no nation should protect or promote its domestic economy for the sake of self-sufficiency or independence. This is our government's aim in its continuing effort to revise the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade so as to remove all local and national programs affecting agricultural production. The assumption is that we, as a nation, do not need to produce, or conserve, or use well, or protect the source of anything we need; money alone will determine the availability of goods. A further assumption is that a nation can generate sufficient purchasing power indefinitely, without a thriving, highly diversified domestic economy. The "free market" theorists assume, in short, that an adequate national economy may be composed of many consumers, few producers, and even fewer rich manipulators at the top. This theory attributes a kind of creative or magical power to money that money does not have, and that is dangerous enough. But it also and more dangerously involves an inevitable, large-scale dependence on foreign supplies.
XXIII. Under the rule of the "free market" ideology, we have gone through two decades of an energy crisis without an effective energy policy. Because of an easy and thoughtless reliance on imported oil, we have no adequate policy for the conservation of gasoline and other petroleum products. We have no adequate policy for the development or use of other, less harmful forms of energy. We have no adequate system of public transportation. We fought Saddam Hussein because our willing dependence on foreign energy had put us helplessly under his influence. Having defeated him in war, we are still under his influence, for what we have done to defeat him will continue to affect us, and inevitably for the worst.
But we must pay whatever price is demanded in blood, in ecological damage, and in money (or debt), because we are helpless to provide for ourselves what must be provided for us by suppliers in the Middle East and elsewhere.
XXIV. This neglect of domestic economy applies not just to energy but to all necessities. We are destroying our farms and farm communities, for example, keeping costs high and incomes low, for the sake of "competitiveness on the world market." The proposed revisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade would throw our farmers into competition with farmers of the Third World, thereby endangering agricultural economies both here and there. We are destroying our forests in the same way. We have allowed vital industries here to be destroyed by the importation of cheap goods from abroad. For example, we are now importing 59 percent of our textiles and clothing. Having just finished an oil war, we may expect sooner or later to be involved in a textile war, a food war-or a war over anything that we need but cannot provide.
XXV. We were encouraging and protecting Saddam Hussein virtually until the day we went to war against him, partly because we needed his oil and we needed Iraq as a market for our agricultural commodities and manufactured goods. But this generous help to Saddam Hussein, our enemy-to-be, was by no means the first contradiction in which "free market" or "global" economics has involved us. Only a few years ago, for example, we were exerting ourselves mightily to sell American grain to the Soviet Union, our then-enemy whom we were armed to annihilate. This sort of thing is absurd, of course, but the absurdity is visible only to common sense. The apparent inconsistency is resolved by the concept that food and arms are equally and indifferently commodities in the "global economy." The internationalists of trade (American and otherwise) are happy to sell wheat or arms to either side of any conflict. The real conflict at any given moment, then, is not primarily that between nations, or even that between the world economy and the national interests, but that between the world economy and the world.
XXVI. We have witnessed the development, since World War II, of a national economy that is not at all related to the prosperity of American localities and communities. As the nation has prospered, the country has declined. Worse, we have seen the emergence into power in this country of an economic elite who have invested their lives and loyalties in no locality and in no nation, whose ambitions are global, and who are so insulated by wealth and power that they feel no need to care about what happens to any place. Their economic globalism follows closely the pattern of the economic nationalism of the industrialists who have so brutally exploited the Appalachian coal fields. The global industrialists will go anywhere and destroy anything, so long as there is a market for the result. Under their "leadership," we are squandering our domestic economy in order to plunder foreign economies. This is the purpose of the "free market" and the proposed revisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
XXVII. The Gulf War, our latest failure to be peaceable, was thus linked to a much larger failure: the failure of those who most profit from the world to be able to imagine the world except in terms of abstract quantities. They cannot imagine any part of the world or any human community in any part of the world as separate in any way from issues of monetary profit.
XVIII. Modern war and modern industry are much alike, not just in their technology and methodology but also in this failure of imagination. It is no accident that they cause similar devastations. There can be little doubt that industrial disfigurements of nature and industrial diminishments of human beings prepare the souls of nations for industrial war in which places become "enemy territory," people become "targets" or "collateral casualties," and bombing sorties become ''turkey shoots. "
XXIV. If, in this war, we were defending "civilization," as we claimed, then we were proposing a more difficult criticism of our civilization than we have so far been willing to make. Not all of "civilization" and its works are defensible. History leaves no doubt that most of the most regrettable crimes committed by human beings have been committed by those human beings who thought of themselves as civilized." What, we must ask, does our civilization possess that is worth defending?
XXX. One thing worth defending, I suggest, is the imperative to imagine the lives of beings who are not ourselves and are not like ourselves: animals, plants, gods, spirits, people of other countries and other races, people of the other sex, places-and enemies. To mention only the earliest instance, the most attractive hero of the Iliad is not Greek but Trojan: Hector, a good man, a good family man, a good friend. It is over the body of Hector that Greek anger finally gives way to compassion.
XXXI. Another precious possession of our culture is the idea that human lives matter individually and ultimately. This idea, which is ancient in religion and in art, began to flower politically only two hundred fifteen years ago in the declaration that "all men are created equal" and "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." They were not held to be equal in nature or in fortune but to possess equally the right to live, to be free, and to try to be happy. Suddenly it was imaginable that a government should respect these rights as belonging to "all men." We know that this is an idea of great force, and we have changed it only by making it more inclusive.
XXXII. By "all men" we now mean "all the people of the United States." It may be that this idea is so potent that it will someday require all governments to respect the individual lives and rights of all the people of the world. I hope so. But must we not ask how this precious idea can be defended abroad or preserved at home by people encouraged to forget that the enemy they are about to kill is a human being?
XXXIII. Perhaps the most depressing development of this latest war is the idea, creeping into editorials and commentaries, that war is inevitable, that it will be inescapably a part of our national life as long as we are a nation, and that we can continue to be a nation only by war. We must be prepared to fight on and on, for we will inevitably meet competitors who will become enemies, and some of these enemies will be madmen or madwomen. Surely it is too soon to come to such a desperate conclusion, for there is one great possibility that we have hardly tried: that we can come to peace by being peaceable.
XXXIV. That possibility, though little honored, is well known; its most famous statement is this: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." I did not include this idea as a precious possession of our civilization because it is not one. It is an idea given to our civilization but so far not accepted.
XXXV. In times of war, our leaders always speak of their prayers. They wish us to know that they say prayers because they wish us to believe that they are deeply worried and that they take their responsibilities seriously. Perhaps they believe or hope that prayer will help. But within the circumstances of war, prayer becomes a word as befuddled in meaning as liberate or order or victory or peace. These prayers are usually understood to be Christian prayers. But Christian prayers are made to or in the name of Jesus, who loved, prayed for, and forgave his enemies and who instructed his followers to do likewise. A Christian supplicant, therefore, who has resolved to kill those whom he is enjoined to love, to bless, to do good to, to pray for, and to forgive as he hopes to be forgiven is not conceivably in a situation in which he can be at peace with himself. Anyone who has tried to apply this doctrine to a merely personal enmity will be aware of the enormous anguish that it could cause a national leader in wartime. No wonder that national leaders have ignored it for nearly two thousand years.
XXXVI. We have made much of Saddam's tyranny, which logically would imply some sympathy for his people, who were the first victims of his tyranny. But we have shown them no sympathy at all, have regarded them not even as human beings but as "fish in a barrel" or as the targets in a "turkey shoot." Having killed thousands on thousands of them, virtually without seeing or thinking of them, we have hardly spared for them a word of regret or for their families a word of sympathy. In fact, we have no sympathy for them. For our leaders and much of our public, the appalling statistics of death and suffering in Iraq merely prove the efficiency of our military technology. Ignoring the Gospels' command to be merciful, forgiving, loving, and peaceable, our leaders have prayed only for the success of their arms and policies and have thus made for themselves a state religion-exactly what they claim to fear in "fundamentalist" Islam. But why God might particularly favor a nation whose economy is founded foursquare on the seven deadly sins is a mystery that has not been explained.
XXXVII. The idea of peaceableness toward enemies is a religious principle. Whether or not it could be believed, much less practiced, apart from authentic religious faith, I do not know. I can only point out that the idea of the ultimate importance of individual lives is also a religious principle and that it finally became a political principle of significant power and influence.
XXXVIII. Peaceableness toward enemies is an idea that will, of course, continue to be denounced as impractical. It has been too little tried by individuals, much less by nations. It will not readily or easily serve those who are greedy for power. It cannot be effectively used for bad ends. It could not be used as the basis of an empire. It does not afford opportunities for profit. It involves danger to practitioners. It requires sacrifice. And yet it seems to me that it is practical, for it offers the only escape from the logic of retribution. It is the only way by which we can cease to look to war for peace.
XXXIX. Let us hasten to the question that apologists for killing always ask: If somebody raped or murdered a member of my family, would I not want to kill him? Of course I would, and I daresay I would enjoy killing him. Or her. If asked, however, if I think that it would do any good, I must reply that I do not. The logic of retribution implies no end and no hope. If I kill my enemy, and his brother kills me, and my brother kills his brother, and so on and on, we may all have strong motives and even good reasons; the world may be better off without all of us. And yet this is a form of behavior that we have wisely outlawed. We have outlawed it, that is, in private life. In our national life, it remains the established and honored procedure.
XL. The essential point is the ancient one: that to be peaceable is, by definition, to be peaceable in time of conflict. Peaceableness is not the amity that exists between people who agree, nor is it the exhaustion or jubilation that follows war. It is not passive. It is the ability to act to resolve conflict without violence. If it is not a practical and a practicable method, it is nothing. As a practicable method, it reduces helplessness in the face of conflict. In the face of conflict, the peaceable person may find several solutions, the violent person only one.
XLI. We seem to be following, on the one hand, the logic of preventive war, according to which we probably ought to kill all heads of state and their supporters to keep them from sooner or later becoming power-hungry maniacs who will force us to fight a big war to save freedom, civilization, peace, gentleness, and brotherly love. On the other hand, we have our customary practice of aiding, encouraging, and winking at power-hungry maniacs, because we think them useful and secretly admire them, until they become strong enough to threaten our power-hungry maniacs. But peaceableness is not the same thing as this planning for war and making war, or this reckless dealing in power. If it is to mean anything, peaceableness has to operate all the time, not lie dormant until the emergence of power-hungry maniacs. Amish pacifism makes sense because the Amish are peaceable all the time. If they attacked their neighbors and then, when their neighbors retaliated, started loving them, praying for them, and turning the other cheek, they would be both wrong and stupid. Of course, as the Amish know, peaceableness can get you killed. 1 suppose they would reply that war can get you killed, too, and is more likely to get you killed than peaceableness-and also that when a peaceable person is killed, peaceableness survives.
XLII. As it is true that we are now helplessly dependent on foreign supplies, it is also true that we are helplessly dependent on military force. We believe, we say, in diplomacy, but only in diplomacy backed by military force. We believe, we say, in sanctions, but only in sanctions quickly replaced by military force. Once the weapons are in place, the belligerent demands laid down, and the threats made, then neither side has more than two choices: fight or yield. Neither choice is attractive. But the fact, apparently, is that we don't understand anything but force because we have not tried to understand anything but force. Our approach to life in this world-in the use of our own land, as well as in dealing with foreign enemies-has been "massive force relentlessly applied."
XLIII. At the same time, we undoubtedly long for peace. We would not be human if we did not. We long for peace, and we trust in war. No one can ignore the likelihood that modern war, because it is profitable and serves power, will continue until it destroys its own possibility, not by bringing peace but by destroying civilization or the world, either slowly or quickly. But we must see, too, that such a prospect calls seriously into question the value of that "human intelligence" that we are so famous with ourselves for having.
XLIV. If I put up many signs on my property, saying that I will shoot all trespassers, then I greatly increase the possibility of two bad outcomes: that I will eventually have to shoot a trespasser or that a determined trespasser will come armed and shoot me. If I want to forestall such possibilities, and at the same time protect myself, then I will have to do much more than withdraw my threat. I must change my relationship to all potential trespassers. I must be a good neighbor to my neighbors, not out of fear, but in recognition both of our mutual advantages and of the possibility that I may like them. If all else fails, I must think of ways to make my point and protect myself and my place without destroying myself or my neighbors, my place or my neighbors' places. This, of course, would not be easy-but, then, neither would the alternative.
XLV. Those who would like to believe in progress must be startled to realize that in the half century between Hitler and Hussein our method of dealing with belligerent madmen has not changed; all the progress has been in the manufacturing of more and more terrible weapons. And so we have still ahead of us the most daunting question that humans have ever had to ask: What can we do if, or when, we are confronted by a madman who has a nuclear bomb? We have no acceptable answer to that question, because the logic of war can lead to no acceptable answer. The logic of war, as we already know, can produce only the idea of a "preemptive strike"-a madman's idea-which would destroy the world or a considerable part of it in order to prevent the other madman from doing the same thing with his bomb. And this leads to another question that is merely absurd: What would be the net good, to anybody, of doing that? Military logic is thus driving us along an ever-narrowing gamut of possibilities toward absurdity, hopelessness, and ruin.
XLVI. This appears to be a sufficient reason to ask whether the logic of peaceableness is fundamentally different from the logic of war. We must begin to consider the possibility that the real agenda of peaceableness is not at all the same as the agenda of war or military defense, and in some respects it is not the same as the agenda of politics. It would be different from the military agenda because it would look toward settlements and accommodations not ruled by the concepts of victory and defeat. It would be to some extent different from the political agenda because it is unlikely to be advocated at first by any political leader and because it must rest on the changed lives and economies of individuals, families, and neighborhoods. What, then, might be the agenda of peaceableness?
XLVII. We must recognize, first, that we have made such progress in the technology of war that we have destroyed the capacity of war to improve anything. The Gulf War, typically, destroyed a large quantity of the oil we were fighting to save.
XLVIII. And then we must recognize that peaceability, as a way of dealing with large conflicts, is not a dream but a proven possibility. We have the examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. We have the histories of the Quakers, the Amish, and other nonviolent sects and groups. We have the examples of some nations that have successfully pursued policies of peaceableness over long stretches of time.
XLIX. Third, we must give the same status and prestige to the virtues and the means of peaceableness as we have heretofore given to the means of war. We should, for a start, establish a peace academy that would have the same prestige and standing as the military academies have.
L Fourth, we must recognize that the standards of the industrial economy lead inevitably to war against humans just as they lead inevitably to war against nature. We must learn to prefer quality over quantity, service over profit, neighborliness over competition, people and other creatures over machines, health over wealth, a democratic prosperity over centralized wealth and power, economic health over "economic growth."
LI. Fifth, we must see that a nation cannot hope to live at peace without a domestic economy that is sound, diversified, decentralized, democratic, locally adapted, ecologically responsible, and reasonably self-sufficient.
LII. Sixth, if we are to have such an economy, we must repair our country and our society. We must stop the ruin of our forests and fields, waterways and seacoasts. We must end waste and pollution. We must renew our urban and rural communities. We must remake family life and neighborhood. We must reduce indebtedness, poverty, homelessness, violence. We must renew the possibility of a democratic distribution of usable property. We must take proper care of our children. We must quit treating them as commodities for the "job market" and teach them to be good neighbors and citizens and to do good work.
LIII. Finally, if we want to be at peace, we will have to waste less, spend less, use less, want less, need less. The most alarming sign of the state of our society now is that our leaders have the courage to sacrifice the lives of young people in war but have not the courage to tell us that we must be less greedy and less wasteful.