by Izzy Kalman (August 2006)
The Current Crisis
With war raging between Hezbollah and Israel, years of American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Islamic terrorist acts taking place throughout the world, it is certainly legitimate to question whether we are in the early stages of World War III. Unless there is a major change in the status quo in the Middle East, even when the current situation with Israel and Lebanon comes to an end, it will only be temporary. Fighting is bound to erupt again, possibly more catastrophically than ever before. Many people believe that the Bible prophesizes that Armageddon, the war to end all wars will begin in the Middle East, and that it is already beginning. I believe anyone who is pessimistic about the hope for world peace has a good reason to be.
Does this mean Civilization is bound to destroy itself through warfare? Not necessarily. I believe there is one hope. And only one hope. But first we need to understand how the psychology of warfare has changed in the new millennium. With the new rules of warfare, we will never win by using the warfare of old. The United States could not defeat the North Vietnamese with its superior military power. It’s not winning in Iraq or Afghanistan with its superior power. Israel is losing in Lebanon and Gaza despite its superior military power. The rules of war have changed, and so must the tactics.
The New Nature of this War
Something has changed since the end of World War II. In the past, countries would win wars by virtue of their superior might. It would be foolish for a weak country to declare war on a stronger one because it would be quickly demolished. This is no longer true. Today, minor military powers are able to brazenly challenge world superpowers and win! What’s going on?
This new situation is possible thanks to the strategy of “divide and conquer.” And “divide and conquer” in turn is made possible by the “anti-bully/pro-victim” mentality that has become the guiding philosophy not only of the average person but of our social and political scientists as well: the belief that imbalances of power are wrong and need to be eliminated; that the stronger one in a power struggle is the “bully” or “the bad guy” and the weaker is the “victim” or “the good guy”; and that morality equals “protecting victims from bullies.” This philosophy is going to be our downfall. There is no such thing as a social organization without imbalances of power. It is both irrational and immoral to determine that the weaker side is automatically right and the stronger is automatically wrong. Yes, bullies may be bad, but victims are worse. Bullies want power; they are not looking to kill. It’s when people feel like victims that they become truly dangerous. The worst acts of violence in the world are committed by people who feel like victims. They believe that blowing up people will gain them entrance to Heaven. The masses go to war not because they believe they are bullies but because they believe they are victims. But before I continue, there is another matter that needs clarification.
Almost everyone interested in the Arab-Israeli conflict passionately favors one side over the other, and can argue endlessly why their position is the correct one. It’s as though we believe if the world finally figures out who is right and who is wrong, the conflict will be over. However, the issue of who is right and who is wrong is irrelevant and will never lead to peace. Many therapists give angry couples the sage advice that “It’s more important to be happy than to be right.” Spouses can spend endless hours arguing with each other who is right and who is wrong, and they don’t realize that the real problem is that they are fighting about who is right and who is wrong. The fighting is what destroys the relationship and both sides end up losing.
Similarly, in battles between nations, proving who is right does not create peace. We can all end up being blown to smithereens before we are finished debating who is right. So the solution to the problem has nothing to do with proving which side is “right.”
What is This War Really About?
To tackle the problem World War III, we have to identify what this struggle is really about. The official view of the United States government is that it is a war between the free world and terrorism. But terrorism is not an enemy; it is only a tactic. You don’t fight a war against a tactic; you fight a war against an enemy.
There are those who say that it is a war between Islam and Western civilization (or democracy, really). This is a little closer to the truth, though it is not really Islam as a whole that is trying to destroy democracy, but certain groups of followers of Islam.
There are those who say it is a war between democracy and “Islamo-fascism.” I would say this is getting even closer to the truth. What is the truth? Get rid of the “Islamo” part, and we hit the nail on the head.
The danger to civilization is not Islam. In fact, it is dangerous to declare that we are waging a war against Islam or “Islamo-fascists” because doing so simply turns Muslims and non-Muslims against each other and fuels the fire.
The real danger is not the “Islamo” but the “fascism” part. In the previous century, it was the Nazi fascist government, in partnership with the fascist government of Japan, which brought the world to war. Now it is fascist governments of certain Islamic countries that are endangering the world.
What is fascism? According to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, fascism is “a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.” In other words, the State is more important than the individual. Many, or most, Islamic countries fall into this category. This is not because of Islam, but because these countries have fascist governments, ruled by individuals or small groups of individuals who maintain almost absolute control.
The Difference between Fascism and Democracy
There is a fundamental difference between democracy and fascism. In a democracy (or, perhaps more accurately, a “republic”), the leaders are supposed to represent the will of the people. In a dictatorship, the reverse holds true: the people have to represent the will of the leaders. This leads to dramatically different lives for the citizens.
Unfortunately, most citizens of democracies have no idea what’s special about their form of government. Our enlightened educational systems have taught us since childhood that we should respect all people equally — that we are all “different but equal.” Unfortunately, we have come to apply this thinking to governments, too, that they are all “different but equal.” This is a huge, unjustified jump in logic. It is true that as human beings, our similarities greatly outweigh our differences. However, this cannot be said about human products, and government is a human product. Of course they are not all “different but equal.” A cynic may say that all governments, including that of the United States, are bad, but even so, some are much, much worse than others. And a fascist government is much, much worse for its people than a democracy. If you are not sure about this, think about the world’s countries. Ask yourself if you would prefer to live in one of the fascist dictatorships or one of the democracies. It shouldn’t take you long to decide.
Have you noticed that democratic countries don’t go to war with each other? All wars involve at least one fascist state. Why?
In a democracy, the leaders have to make the citizens happy. If they don’t, the public votes them out of office. Under fascism, the reverse is true: the citizens have to make the leaders happy, or the leaders kill them! This is a difference of night and day.
If you and I are the leaders of two democracies and we have a dispute, the last thing each of us wants is to send our citizens to risk their lives and the lives of their children. If the public feels they sacrificed lives in war for nothing, they will be furious and vote us out of office. So we will always succeed in resolving our disputes before we decide on going to war.
On the other hand, if I am a dictator, I don’t have to worry what my citizens think. I can send them to war against you, and they had better go or else I will have them killed! Of course I can’t let them think they are shedding their blood for my own selfish needs. I can’t afford to have them realize that it is really I who is their greatest enemy and the source of their misery. So I convince them that your country is their enemy and the cause of their wretchedness, so they will hate you and eagerly fight you. This is a simple task for me because there is no freedom of speech or press in my country. I control what my citizens are exposed to in the media, and if they dare to speak out against me, their lives are over.
And that is why you will find that all wars involve at least one dictatorship.
The solution to world peace is, therefore, obvious: A world of democratic nations, for they will always figure out how to solve their disputes without having to resort to warfare.
George W. Bush acted on this idea when he brought the United States to war against the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. He was hoping to usher in an era of democracy among the Arab countries of the Middle East. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be a colossal blunder. Bush’s mistake, as you should understand by the end of this article, was that he tried to sell democracy to the wrong people. Instead of trying to impress (or force) democracy on the citizens of non-democratic countries, it would have been infinitely cheaper and more effective to empress democracy on the countries that already have it and don’t appreciate it! The truth is that Bush did try to do this, but not nearly hard enough. By spending a couple of billion dollars on pro-democracy public relations, he could have saved us the hundreds of billions he now has us spending on the military.
How the Fascists are Able to Thrash the Democracies
The fascistic countries of the world are objectively very weak in comparison with the democracies. So how are they able to bring the democracies to their knees? Where does their strength come from? It comes from the strategy of “divide and conquer.” I will explain by describing a smaller system, one we are all familiar with: the family.
“Divide and Conquer” in the Family
Many families have an oppositional, defiant child that drives the parents crazy. Even though the parents may be bigger and stronger than the child, all their efforts to get the child to stop terrorizing them are futile. What you will almost always find in such a family is that one parent is protecting the child from the other parent. This is how it works:
Let’s say you are my wife, and our child, Johnny, is giving you a hard time. I see you yelling at our child and acting very tough with him. I sincerely believe that Johnny is being defiant to you because you are being too abusive. If you would only be more rational and gentle with him, he would like you better and obey you with less resistance. So I tell you something like, “Calm down! If you’ll stop being so mean to Johnny, maybe he’ll listen to you!”
When I say this to you, does Johnny think, “Oh, I had better listen to Mom!” No! Johnny thinks, “Why should I listen to Mom? Even Dad knows she’s wrong!” So Johnny becomes even more disobedient to you, and discovers that the worse he treats you, the more punitive you become, and the more I take his side against you.
Meanwhile, you figure, “Why should I be gentle with Johnny?! Look how terribly he treats me! Of course I have to be tough with him! If you would only stop taking his side against me, he would listen to me!” So you get even tougher with Johnny, which makes him madder at you, and you, in turn get madder at him. I get madder at you because you are madder at him. You get madder at me because I am madder at you. So now we are all mad at each other because I have good intentions and am trying to protect poor little Johnny from his abusive mother.
Thus, Johnny becomes the winner through “divide and conquer.” He can do whatever he wants and get away with it.
The process occurs because each of us thinks that our way of treating Johnny is the right way. What we don’t realize is that it’s not important who is right. The real problem is that we are fighting about it. If we want our family to be happy and our children to be respectful, the most important thing is that you (my spouse) and I are on the same side. Our kids must see that they cannot put a wedge between us. They are far less likely to get away with unacceptable behavior if the two of us are united. So even if I think that your method of child discipline is wrong, my taking Johnny’s side against you is even worse than what you are doing. Even if I think you are wrong, it is better that I support you than fall into the trap of protecting our child from you.
And here’s another important truth: even though kids enjoy pitting their parents against each other because it gives them all the power, it doesn’t make the kids happy. In fact, it makes them absolutely miserable. There are few things that disturb children as much as seeing their parents fighting over them. Johnny would be happier having the two of us united against him than to have me taking his side against you.
“Divide and Conquer” in Warfare
This very same tactic – divide and conquer – is what gives the fascist regimes their incredible power. And the most powerful weapons they have are not bombs but the media. Thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, the media is able to bring real-time battlefield events right into everyone’s home. The amazing thing about the media as a weapon is that it can turn the natural order upside down by taking advantage of people’s sympathy for victims.
According to the rules of nature, the way to win a fight is by winning. Today, thanks to our incredible media technology and the widespread anti-bully/pro-victim mentality, the way to win a fight is by losing! Demonstrate that your side is suffering more casualties, that you are the bigger victim, and the world takes your side and defeats the stronger side for you! Have you noticed, by the way, that in the Arab-Israeli conflict, each side is constantly trying get the world on its side by arguing that is the real victim? It’s because you win the world’s support by convincing it you are the victim.
This is how it’s playing out in the current situation in the Middle East. Iran (along with all the countries of the region), has been stoking the fires of hatred against Jews and Americans for several decades, indoctrinating the populace with the belief that all their misery is due to the existence of Israel, the Little Satan, and her supporter, the United States, the Big Satan. Iran funds Hezbollah, which embeds itself among the citizenry in Lebanon. Then Hezbollah attacks Israel. Israel could easily demolish Hezbollah, but not without killing innocent citizens that serve as human shields for Hezbollah. According to the Geneva Conventions, Hezbollah should be held responsible for the deaths of Lebanese citizens because it is illegitimate to hide among civilians. Nevertheless, Israel takes it upon herself the impossible task of trying to fight Hezbollah without harming civilians. Images of civilian casualties are immediately and ceaselessly broadcast into the homes of the world. The citizens of the democracies don’t understand that their system of government is special, and they fall into a sinister trap. Being more easily moved by scenes of bloodshed than by an abstract notion of supporting democracy, they feel outrage at Israel for being a heartless bully.
The democracies then complain that Israel is being too harsh and tell her, “Restrain yourself! You have to stop fighting so hard! You are hurting too many innocent civilians!” The United States, which has been supporting Israel in it’s campaign against Hezbollah, can’t for long withstand the pressure from other democracies, so it, too, starts caving in to demands for Israel to cease fire. Voila! “Divide and conquer” on an international scale. A victory for Hezbollah and Iran, courtesy of the sympathy of well-meaning democracies.
Iran and Hezbollah are currently reveling in their power. How easy it is to challenge and defeat the mighty democracies of the world! You can be certain they are feeling emboldened to ride the wave of victory. Today, Israel and America. Tomorrow, the world.
The Only Solution: United Democracies
How can we put an end to this sorry state of affairs and prevent the world from sliding into all-out war? The only way is for the democracies of the world to stand together.
They must realize that this is a war not between Jews and Muslims but between fascism and democracy. It is the freedom of democracy that has led to the strength and prosperity enjoyed by democracies. Yet the democracies have foolishly partaken in a “world government” called the United Nations, in which fascist regimes are given equal status with democracies. The United Nations headquarters is currently undergoing billions of dollars in renovation. It would be more useful to spend the money to build a new organization called United Democracies. The fascists wouldn’t stand a chance against the united power of the free world. In fact, we could defeat them quickly and with a minimum of bloodshed. All that the United Democracies would need to do is tell the fascist regimes, “If you are going to use your oil revenues to attack us, we will have nothing to do with you. We will no longer buy anything from you or sell you anything.”
The fascist leaders aren’t stupid. They know their wealth is ultimately due to the strong economies of the West. Faced with the prospect of trading their palaces for tents and their jet planes for camels, the fascist rulers would quickly give up their defiance and behave themselves. And this would be a blessing not only for the democracies of the world. The citizens of the fascist nations would also be happier and better off if their leaders would stop engaging in warfare at the expense of their own population.
Yes, with a minimum expenditure of human life and resources, the democracies can defeat the fascists and usher in an age of world peace.
Do I think it will happen? No. I am not that naïve. Sadly, the “anti-bully/pro-victim” mentality has become too deeply rooted among the intelligentsia. When our leaders’ policies are based on a victim mentality, we have no chance against the fascists. Peace will be impossible until we recognize that the “victim mentality”, and not “bullies”, is the major cause of misery in the world.
Do I believe world peace can happen? Absolutely! And it must happen if Civilization is to survive. But it can only happen if the democracies of the world wake up and see the value of their way of government. Forget about convincing fascists that democracy is the way to go. Let’s convince the democracies first. When the fascists can no longer divide and conquer, then we’ll truly be on the road to peace.
The really good news is that like never before in history, you, the ordinary citizen, can help make peace happen. The very same weapon – modern electronic media – that the fascists use to promote hatred and warmongering is available to us as well for spreading appreciation of democracy. And thanks to the Internet, all it takes is a couple of mouse clicks to pass this essay on to others. So what are you waiting for? Start spreading the word!