Answer really depends on the question

Reason should usually win out but it’s not always possible

I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, "War is not the answer," which made me think this:

Wouldn’t that depend on the question?

In 1933, for instance, had someone said, "Hitler is going to kill 6 million Jews and untold numbers of other ethnic groups. What should we do?"

Well, if war wasn’t the answer, what was?

A "Dear Adolf" letter?

"Dear Adolf: How are you? I’m fine. Please don’t kill all those people. It will make some people angry and some people sad. Your friend, Neville Chamberlain."

No one likes war, unless they’re really nutty or, as is the case with politi­cians, don’t have to actual­ly fight it or can find ways to keep their kids in the rear. Even they might not LIKE war, but it wouldn’t bother them all that much. Hey, if you don’t have to skate on thin ice, what do you care if the ice is thin?

Sometimes, kids, war is the answer. Granted, in this day and age, it has become a more complex, more fragmented answer. We cannot, for instance, stop the moron that is ISIS by going to war with any particular country, i.e., a declared war. But we can at least fight back by going to a kind of war, by actually fighting, and even if we don’t call it war, well, tell that to the guys in the front lines.

"Hey, they’re shooting at us."

"Yeah, but it’s not war."

"Then what the hell is it?"

"Just a … you know, a thingy."

"A thingy with live bul­lets."

"Well, yes, but, we haven’t actually declared anything, so it can’t be war."

What I’d like to know is, if war is not the answer, and I presume that in this case "not" is synonymous with "never," then what do we do about Islamic extremist murderers? Ask them to stop?

"C’mon, you guys, cut it out."

Someone’s going to say: Make their lives better.

Right. More foreign aid. Here’s another billion. Better now?

We did not create Islamic extremists. Right: The Crusaders did. Rich­ard the Lionheart and all those cats. Damn that Robin of Locksley.

The thugs of ISIS want to be thugs. That’s clear because they’re not all poverty-stricken, unedu­cated desert dwellers. Some are well-off, some are educated, and they still choose to be mur­dering thugs. So … war is not the answer? Got a plan?

"Can’t we just love them?"

Well, sure, why not?

"Excuse me? You with the machine gun killing all those concert-goers? I love you."

In this day and age, the only reason that "war" is not the answer is because ISIS isn’t a country. So, perhaps infiltration and assassination are the answers.

Because, friends, even this longtime anti-Vietnam War pacifist knows this truth to be self-evident: They want us either dead or under a caliphate.

I still am something of a pacifist, although not the absolutist I once was. I STILL think, though, that confronted by a really hungry, angry tiger, and me armed with a large gun, I’d feel an obligation to try to reason with it. I’d like to feel the same about people, but …

Years ago, when I was spouting some pacifist bushwah I’d determined was my philosophy, my friend Mendelson asked me what I would do if I was confronted by some­one with a weapon who I was certain was going to kill me or someone I loved.

I KNOW I said some­thing stupid, something aimed at just reinforcing my position of pacifism, something like, "Try to talk him out of it." Right. Something stupid.

I believed then, and to some extent I still believe, that kill­ing SHOULD never be the answer, that war SHOULD never be the answer, and that reason should be. I believe that. But I’m not sure I could defend that belief to the survivors of the dead of Paris.

No, war should not be the answer.

Unless the question can’t be reasonably answered in any other way. And that, friends, is where we find ourselves today vis a vis ISIS.