There has probably never been a time in the history of the human race when ... there has not been war somewhere on Earth. Why do we have wars? I have concluded that there are two reasons:

1. You have it, I want it, so give it to me or I will kill you.

2. You don’t believe as I do, so accept my beliefs or I will kill you.

The first reason covers the desire for power and wealth. From ancient Rome to the present, there were many such wars. Hitler killed millions of Jews, but World War II was not a war of beliefs. He killed millions of Christians and atheists, too. It was a war of power, a desire by the Nazis to dominate Europe. Japan simply wanted to dominate and exploit Asia. These wars have a winner and a loser and eventually end.

The second reason is more complex. “Belief” can be religious or political. We may worship the same God, but do it differently. We may worship different Gods, or believe in a different political system. Our own Civil War was one of belief: federalism vs. states’ rights; slavery vs. abolition. We had the “cold war” for decades. Korea and Vietnam were political wars; Iraq and Afghanistan religious wars. These are hard to “win.” The winner may gain power and wealth but never change the beliefs of the vanquished.

Religious fanatics ... are willing to kill others of their own faith, as the suicide bombers in Baghdad prove. We are fighting for a belief — a belief that people should be free to elect their own government and worship as they please.... I don’t know if we can win such a war. Japan had suicide fighters in World War II, and it took two atomic bombs to change their behavior. I hope it does not come to that in the Mideast.

Dick Palmer


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