Consequences of conflict

By Reyshimar Arguelles

In every war, everyone has to pick sides. But it is not picking which country to fight for. A more crucial question is to know whether you allow yourself to become a victim of wholesale destruction or become complicit in a conflict that makes a murderer out of anyone.

For sure, we are made to believe that conflict is necessary in carrying out a certain objective. Warfare, in itself, is both a process of construction and destruction. And in both ways, it requires the shedding of blood to meet its ends. After all, modern societies were formed through conquest and, in their wake, create the conditions for more advanced forms of warfare to take place.

But there is insanity in seeing dead bodies, desolated cities, and skies painted with blood-red embers. And only a depraved soul can revel in the site of such desolation as though there is nothing wrong with “legal” violence. He who does not flinch in the face of widespread massacres is anything but moral.

There is nothing moral in conflict, unless it is a conflict that acknowledges a universal truth. But modernity has made it impossible to know the essence of truth by dividing the justifications of war into different truths that every group has to affirm, even if it requires slaughtering countless innocents.

Murder is therefore not born of a breakdown in communication which can be mended at any time. It is produced by deep-seated hatred spurred by irrational interests. But the thought of killing can also come from a desire to dominate by virtue of a collective will. War uses an “Us versus Them” logic to make it seem as though animosity among men is natural. Kill or be killed, said those who raise the banner of endless war for the purpose of declaring one’s power over an entire population.

Indeed, war is never about the furtherance of a national identity or the protection of a people against a hostile Other. It is about power and ego. Leaders of warmongering nations can say all they want about protecting the sovereignty, securing borders, and maintaining “our way of life.” But these are abstract declarations that fail to take into account the sacrifices of innocent people and those who join a violent cause, whether willingly or unwillingly.

No one has to choose death, which is why we should commend the Iranian people for protesting against a regime obsessed with paranoid delusions of war. In the aftermath of the Iranian regime’s fatal error of shooting down a passenger jet carrying 176 people, an accounting is warranted. Refusing accountability at first, the Iranian government eventually gave in to international pressure and took the blame for the tragedy.

To an observer, it is only right to take Iran to task for its impotent attempt at attacking U.S. bases in Iran as a reprisal against the assassination of Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani. It is also right for Iran to take a step back after it launched missiles (although some have speculated that the regime decided to de-escalate after knowing about the incident involving the Ukrainian Boeing 737).

But shouldn’t it be right, as well, to question the Trump administration’s recklessness in ordering the murder of Soleimani? If it hadn’t acted so tactlessly, it would have prevented the situation from getting even more complicated. And while it threatened to target sacred Iranian sites and destabilize the Iranian government, the leadership of the American regime has taken the wiser route by avoiding actions that could agitate the Islamic Republic (which, of course, didn’t take the risk of murdering U.S. personnel in Iraq), it is still important to consider the kinds of atrocities that would have cost the lives of thousands of Iranians.

For now, the clamor for war has reached a standstill, but it is clear who the real bad guys are in any conflict: those who wield a terrifying amount of power to inflict mass murder.