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On The Importance of

Maintaining Our Humanity In Modern Conflicts


By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2003 By RDFollendoreIII

I want to thank each of you readers for your feedback.  In particular, those of you who wrote in to express your opinion made many excellent points and I respect you for sharing your opinions, both pro and con.  I wrote the essay "On U.S. Weapons of Mass Destruction Policies" to bring up a number of ideas that I believe are lacking in our American policies.  One of those things is the fundamental concept of basic humanity and tolerance.  


July 3, 2003

Americans are not generally known to be particularly tolerant of other cultures when comparing them to our own, and perhaps one of the underlying reasons that countries like North Korea shrinks from joining the world community that is dominated by the United States is their cultural fear of being inferior.  This general idea was also the essential core cultural issue of the German people that lead to the popularity and rise of fascism in the 1930's. It was not superiority that drove the NAZI party into power within Germany but the fear of inferiority.  It is easier to blame others for one's own competitive shortcomings.

Of course the world we live in is a brutal place. Man is a part of nature, regardless of how elevated we would like to think of ourselves. But there are two ways to confront the existence of brutality.  One way is by immediate escalating force and the other is through a quite and constant pressure of understanding.  In a universe where escalating force leads to genocide and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), the only option remaining becomes that of compassionate understanding. There are intelligent ways of dealing with the hostility, fear, and ignorance of absolutism. 

Long ago President Teddy Roosevelt once made a similar point by stating his famous motto: "Talk softly and carry a big stick."  That did not mean that we should not be prepared to use that stick.  It also did not mean that the stick should be used at all.  The modern point of his old motto exists within the first two words. In other words, what he was saying can be translated today to mean "Communicate diplomatic confidence and with respect while letting others know that we are prepared for the consequences of the discussions." 
With respect to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) America has not had a history of consistency in our international policies.  In fact, while we do not want others to obtain them, we continue to have a policy for ownership and first use of WMD and the world has not seen anything yet.  As technology progresses in the next decade, the weapons that will become available will continue to impinge on the sovereignty of others.  It will be easier to find justifications for using these weapons and for disseminating them to our "friends."
The simple fact is that terror propagates by giving birth to new generations of terror through fear. Fear becomes a means of controlling others to do ones bidding and that becomes the whole point of terrorism.  In and of itself, terrorism is nothing more than a political tool, as are WMD. The intelligent way to defeat such tools involves changing the perspective of the relationship. One can not do that with an adversary who has nothing to lose with a posture of direct military confrontation.  The fact is that when one begins to take apart the problems, our adversaries have many legitimate issues that do not seem important to us but do to them. It should not take much of an understanding of diplomacy to reach out and begin a conversation of constructive change based on these issues.
There is an old Japanese story about a famous professional assassin who was ordered by his noble patron to kill an enemy leader who had killed a member of the family.  After spending a great deal of time silently infiltrating into position, he had his sword drawn and ready to kill the sleeping man when at that moment the quarry opened his eyes, saw the assassin, and began to spew insulting and profane words at him. The assassin politely sheathed his weapon and quietly walked away.  When asked by his patron why this was so, the assassin's reason was classic Zen.  Had the assassin killed the man he would have been doing so for his own personal justification and not because of his professional duty.
Like the assassin we must always keep in mind precisely why we are acting in war. Our enemy may fight wars through terror and WMD, but we must do so through faith in honesty, democracy, truth, justice, fairness, generosity, love, science & technology, educated diplomacy and intelligence. The reason is that this is what makes us essentially different from our enemies so that if we were to act otherwise, we would become they. As with the assassin, within our deliberate actions we must be completely honest as to whom and what we are serving. 



Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved