The Over Simplification of Conflict
an essay by Matthew Bissonnette
During the first year of the third millennium, a terrorist act took place which propelled many western nations into a global war on terror. As with any war, the common perception is that this is a war of good versus evil; the problem is that the underlying issues which fomented this war are simplified to where both sides see themselves as good and their opponent as evil. The vast number of factors behind this conflict, such as historical and ideological, are brushed aside and this war is made simpler by simply calling your foe evil. But the concepts of good and evil do not exist in nature, such concepts are found only in the human consciousness and are artificial constructs with no real existence. Both sides see themselves as virtuous and see their enemy as malevolent, yet such a view may make coming to a real understanding of the causes of this war difficult. Is the West's enemy simply a dark evil which must be defeated, or are they men who are acting upon a belief system which views our society as villainous. In reality, good does not always win the day and sometimes war does not allow you to be entirely benevolent. In World War 2 the allies where fighting a system of oppression that wanted to exterminate and enslave entire peoples, yet to win that war the allies where compelled to carpet bomb entire cities full of women and children. War is not about good versus evil though the underlying ideals of either side in such a conflict can be examined for inherent morality, but it is about two opponents waging conflict until one sides ability to project military might is destroyed. When an individual or an entire nation commits itself to war, then they must do what ever it takes to achieve victory and sometimes egalitarian ideals are forgotten to win such a war. Idealistic men and women can be compelled to do things which are not in their nature during times of war, and war sometimes does not allow you the option of being a “good guy.” War is not like some construct of fiction where the morality of the players is easily understood, but more like a rigid game where one will achieve victory and the other will be defeated; and the rules of such a game are generally hard to understand. Good does not always win the day in reality, since in almost every conflict since the beginning of history was waged between two groups that both saw themselves as on the side of right. Reducing the war on terror to a simplistic view of good versus evil makes it more difficult to tend to the social issues which have inflamed the passions of countless men and women and only ensures that conflict will continue. Instead of seeing the West's enemy as Satanically evil, see them as men who are compelled to act by beliefs and realities in the Middle East. Though war is inherently destructive and a waste of both personnel and resources, the only justifiable war is a war of defense; and conflict must be avoided at all costs unless it is forced upon a people or a nation. See not your enemy as evil, but as men who act in accordance to an ideology or a belief system. Do not over simplify the current issues which spark conflict between nations or groups, but try to really see what factors exist which have brought about this conflict. Something to think about.