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War Watch
First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card May 19, 2003

Who Is Preparing for Worldwide War?

Today I saw on a bumper sticker a quote purportedly from Einstein: "You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war."

Einstein was smart about math and physics. But apparently not too bright about war.

Anybody who has studied history knows that the only way any nation has ever persuaded a rapacious enemy not to attack was by being extremely well prepared for war, and that the surest way to invite attack is to be loudly and pointedly unprepared.

Building up a peacetime army will, of course, alarm nations that might be the targets of aggression. It's easy to trigger an arms race, when there is a rival who is determined to keep up with you. There are those who think World War I became inevitable specifically because of the arms race between Britain and Germany in the years leading up to Sarajevo.

There are also those of us who think it was never inevitable until one side became determined to fight it. It wasn't the arms race, it was a sense of national honor that made the war, once begun, impossible to stop.

And it was sheer stupidity among French and British commanders, not the arms race, that made the war so hideously bloody.

Set aside World War I as a disputed case. It is widely agreed that if Britain had not deliberately scaled back its military force after World War I, and made it a specific national policy not to retain air superiority over the Luftwaffe, Hitler might not have been so bold in his foreign policy; and, if he were still intent on war, his military might not have obeyed him; and, if his military obeyed him, they probably would not have won such smashing victories.

Switzerland retained its independence from powerful neighbors, not just by declaring neutrality, but by arming their citizens and proving, when tested, that they would fight fiercely and use every advantage of their mountainous terrain to beat back any attempt to seize their nation by force.

Preparation for war is often the only way to prevent war.

The most important "preparation for war," however, is not the weaponry -- though that is far from trivial.

The most important preparation is the effort to persuade the people that war is justified, that it is worth the cost, that victory is attainable.

It is here that free societies are at a great disadvantage.

Our governments, if they wish to persuade us to support a war, must contend with the fact that those who disagree with them have nearly equal access to the news media and other means of making their case. Opposition must be taken into account.

And heaven help the democracy that ceases to allow dissent even in time of war. Eliminating opposition voices, far from uniting the people, makes them less fervent in supporting the government.

But in nations where democracy is only a distant dream, the government is the only voice, and even though the people quickly become quite cynical and suspicious, few of them are able to grasp that everything they're being told is a lie. They always assume there must be some truth to it.

In almost every nation in the Arab world, the state-controlled press and the most vocal of the religious leadership have been preparing their people for nearly two generations for genocide against Israel and for a holy war against America and the west.

They haven't the money to compete with us in armaments.

But they have worked large numbers of their people to a fever pitch of hatred toward us and our allies.

The outrageous, evil lies told about Israel and Jews in general can only be intended to justify the wholesale slaughter of the Jewish people everywhere. Certainly these lies were used to justify the expulsion of Jews from nations in the Middle East where Jews were present long before Muhammed uttered his first preachment.

That is why we see so many Arabs declaring that Israel's occupation of the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Gaza Strip were the equivalent of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Why did America expel Iraq from Kuwait when it did nothing about Israel's invasion of its neighbors?

The comparison is ridiculous. Kuwait did not assemble an army to invade Iraq, or blockade Iraq's only southern port, or form alliances with Iraq's neighbors to carry out a simultaneous invasion. Nor did Iraq have a long history of Kuwait's territory being used to mount terrorist attacks against the Iraqi people.

There is no comparison.

But who in these Arab nations can point out such obvious facts? Where would such a view be printed?

And so we face nation after nation -- even those whose governments are very cooperative with us -- where the people are maintained at a fever pitch of hatred against us and against Israel.

That, folks, is every bit as dangerous as if they were mobilizing vast armies.

Because it is from among these indoctrinated, war-ready people that terrorist groups recruit their massacrists, their slaughterers of innocents.

What was the weapon our enemy used against us on 9/11?

Our trusting, open society -- and their people who had been kept from hearing any rational refutation of the anti-American lies they had heard since infancy.

So if Einstein was right at all in that quote -- "You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war" -- then let's remember that while we spend a great deal of money and effort creating weapons of war, the Arab world spends all its available energy creating soldiers eager to destroy us.

Our preparations for war are general, in case there is an enemy against which we must defend ourselves or some other nation.

But they are preparing their people specifically to make war against us and against Israel.

As long as that remains true, why do we idiotically pretend that these governments are not our enemies?

I suspect that most of our diplomats regard the relentlessly anti-American Arab press as a subject they don't even bring up with the governments that control them. But that is a mistake which must come to an end. Every anti-American lie published in the state-controlled press should be brought to the attention of each offending government by our ambassador, with a demand for a public retraction by the government.

Remember that even in free countries, publishing lies is not included in freedom of the press -- liars can be sued and put out of business.

We have only two roads to peace: war against those who materially support terrorism ... or to have a more favorable (and, in my view, truthful) view of America -- and Israel -- made available throughout the Arab world.

We must carry on with the former as it becomes unavoidable, but ultimately it is only the latter that will bring us real hope of peace.

Copyright © 2003 by Orson Scott Card.


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