In my previous column concerning war, I spoke about the possibility of preventing it. John Lennon, in his song titled “Imagine” had us ponder living “as one”. Unfortunately, in the current state of affairs, if there was but one person on earth, they would probably invent another person to run through with a spear.
Seriously though, what if certain wars in our past had been prevented? What would life be like? Take the American Revolutionary War, for example. What if, around 1760, a group had formed to work out negotiations and taken different actions that would have prevented the eventual war? Let’s speculate that it led increasingly, over time, to the independence of the colonies and the eventual formation of our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
What if we take this idea further to include an article in the Constitution, forming a branch of government whose sole purpose had been the expansion of territory without the use of force? Included in its purpose would have been the prevention of forcible conflict and the power to enact treaties. It would also have supervised treaties and prevented any violations before they arose.
I’d call that branch of government the Office of Conflict Management. Leadership might have been appointed in much the way the Supreme Court was chosen. The term of office would have been for the person’s lifetime, and the budget would have been compared to that of the military. It could have appointed ambassadors and their staff. There would have been departments to implement multiple actions to provide resources needed to accomplish training, aid, structure, and deadly force. You might think I am against all killing in any form. No, I believe you occasionally need a David when faced with a Goliath.
By having that branch of government, many Americans might have lived, including the hundreds of thousands who have died in our civil war. The cause of that war concerned slavery, states rights to govern themselves, and the philosophical, economic, and cultural differences between the northern states and southern ones. Various compromises were attempted but ultimately failed. If we’d had such a specialized branch of government to deal with such conflict early, showing successes by the mid-1800s, it might have prevented the U.S. Civil War.
Preventing the death of vast numbers directly from war could have had far-reaching effects, even beyond our borders. World Wars I & II, Korea, and Vietnam might have been prevented. What would our current world look like if we had resolved just those few before taking up arms? If that had come to pass, I could imagine other countries might have formed similar departments in their own governments.
No, I’ve not figured out how truly to solve the problem of those who profit from war, sociopaths who are willing to increase their own wealth and power with the deaths of many. Governments itching to go to war to test the latest sword, crossbow, chain mail, musket, bomb, fighter jet, tank, or combat gear are still prevalent.
The above is obviously a complete fantasy, but every once in a while, I have to use my voice to contemplate the way things should be, not the way they are.