Monday, July 31, 2006

Sustainable Peace: An Augustinian View

Just as those who suffer the calamities of war live in hope of the future, President Bush, looking forward, hopes to see war in the Middle East make a long, lasting, sustainable peace emerge. For what is the ultimate purpose of war if not peace? But both sides desire to fight to gain peace with glory, that is, through victory. After all, wars are fought to be won, no less. When one side conquers the other there will be peace.

But it will not be sustainable, for such peace is a poetical fiction, unavailable on earth. Peace on earth is always a doubtful good in the sense that it always admits of either improvement or increase, and so men who wish to disturb the present peace do so not because they hate peace, but because they desire the present peace to be exchanged for one that better suits their wishes. Thus it is that the major disturbers of peace are often those who claim to be upholding it.

The Middle East will enjoy unbroken peace so long as neighboring peoples refrain from attacking each other. But no country, not even the U.S., feels that it possesses its dominion so securely as not to fear attack by its enemies. As long as there is this dread of attack, the earth will never be a dwelling place of lasting peace and security. On earth, ceasefire is the best peace available.

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