Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Preview of a Pundit

An old friend of mine asked if I'd consider posting a short essay written by his son, which he is supposed to submit for publication somewhere as part of a school assignment. I guess blogs count. Anyway, I'm happy to post it here (frankly, it's better than a lot of stuff I've seen posted over at The Corner). Consider it a preview of a future pundit (he's certainly getting an earlier start than I did).

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"War- What is it Good For?"
by Christian Edwards van Muijen

Let's see; there's the War of Jenkins's Ear, the French-Indian War, the Revolutionary War, The Civil War, The Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the War on Terror, just to name a few. Any kid in 7th grade can (hopefully) tell you that the US has been through our fair share of war and bloodshed. But through all of this you have to ask yourself 'Why? Why must we seek to destroy those who are standing in our way? Why must children cry from the pain of losing a loved one to an American weapon? What is war good for?'

The line from my Dad's song says that the answer to that question is 'absolutely nothing', but we of course know that that is not true. Without a war, there would be no United States of America. Without war, Hitler would control most of Europe, if not the whole world. The real question is 'Which war is a good war?'

The main way to discover whether a war is 'good' or 'bad' is to set up criteria for a 'just' war. The ones that I feel are most important are: 1. We must be defending our rights, 2. We must be defending the helpless from a known threat, and 3. There must be a force pressing almost equally, that is, the threat must be a real threat. If we are attacked by some new nation who are killing our people, that is a just time to go to war. If some nation is slaughtering people because of their ethnicity, that is a just war.

Even so, us 7th graders can feel the blow from any war, good or bad. Wars have their costs in an average area, like a school. Some students think that they shouldn't think by shutting off their minds and believe whatever ideas are thrown at them. Others are really just trying to hide from the fact that we are at war. Sadly, some students are segregated for their ethnicity when we go to war with their homelands. In fact, one of my good friends thought that it was World War III and we were going to war with India. Because of this, he was unkind to an Indian student in our school until we convinced him that WWIII hadn't occurred yet.

Going to war is not an easy thing to understand for my generation. With the Iraq war drawn to a close, most of us feel a quiet relief: No more violence, no more death, no more pain. The President says that the war was good and just, and we can just trust them. But the President's explanations don't really match up with our criteria. What was the point of going to Iraq? We went in there, looking for Weapons
of Mass Destruction, blew up some Iraqi citizens, and found... nothing. All the war proved was that George W. Bush wants to milk his title of "Commander-in-Chief" for all it's worth. If any of us folks in 7th grade have a problem, most of us can talk it out and find a better solution than going in and nuking anything that moves.

In conclusion, war is a complex and delicate matter. With many different perspectives to look at war through, there is no right way of describing a war. However, there are 'good' and 'bad' wars. I hope that we will have the wisdom to only fight 'good' wars in the future.

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I'd never even heard of the War of Jenkins's Ear before I read this essay, and I'm a college professor. So much for my junior high school education.