One of the many failings of our educational system is that it sends out into the world people who cannot tell rhetoric from reality. They have learned no systematic way to analyze ideas, derive their implications, and test those implications against hard facts.
“Peace” movements are among those who take advantage of this widespread inability to see beyond rhetoric to realities. Few people even seem interested in the actual track record of so-called “peace” movements — that is, whether such movements actually produce peace or war.
Take the Middle East. People are calling for a cease-fire in the interests of peace. But there have been more cease-fires in the Middle East than anywhere else. If cease-fires actually promoted peace, the Middle East would be the most peaceful region on the face of the earth instead of the most violent.
Was World War II ended by cease-fires or by annihilating much of Germany and Japan? Make no mistake about it, innocent civilians died in the process. Indeed, American prisoners of war died when we bombed Germany.
There is a reason why General Sherman said “war is hell” more than a century ago. But he helped end the Civil War with his devastating march through Georgia — not by cease fires or bowing to “world opinion,” and there were no corrupt busybodies like the United Nations to demand replacing military force with diplomacy.
There was a time when it would have been suicidal to threaten, much less attack, a nation with much stronger military power because one of the dangers to the attacker would be the prospect of being annihilated.
“World opinion,” the U.N., and “peace movements” have eliminated that deterrent. An aggressor today knows that if his aggression fails, he will still be protected from the full retaliatory power and fury of those he attacked because there will be hand-wringers demanding a cease fire, negotiations, and concessions.
That has been a formula for never-ending attacks on Israel in the Middle East. The disastrous track record of that approach extends to other times and places — but who looks at track records?
Remember the Falkland Islands war, when Argentina sent troops into the Falklands to capture this little British colony in the South Atlantic?
Argentina had been claiming to be the rightful owner of those islands for more than a century. At no time did the British have enough troops there to defend them. Why didn't Argentina attack these little islands before?
Before there were “peace” movements and the U.N., sending troops into those islands could easily have meant finding British troops or bombs in Buenos Aires. Now, “world opinion” condemned the British just for sending armed forces into the South Atlantic to take back their islands.
Shamefully, our own government was one of those that opposed the British use of force. But fortunately British prime minister Margaret Thatcher ignored “world opinion” and took back the Falklands.
The most catastrophic result of “peace” movements was World War II. While Hitler was arming Germany to the teeth, “peace” movements in Britain were advocating that their own country disarm “as an example to others.”
British Labour Party Members of Parliament voted consistently against military spending and British college students publicly pledged never to fight for their country. If “peace” movements brought peace, there would never have been World War II.
Not only did that war lead to tens of millions of deaths, it came dangerously close to a crushing victory for the Nazis in Europe and the Japanese empire in Asia. And we now know that the United States was on Hitler's timetable after that.
For the first two years of that war, the Western democracies lost virtually every battle, all over the world, because pre-war “peace” movements had left them with inadequate military equipment and much of it obsolete. The Nazis and the Japanese knew that. That is why they launched the war.
“Peace” movements don't bring peace, but war.
Thomas Sowell is a Senior Fellow at The Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. He has published dozens of books on economics, education, race, and other topics. His most recent book is Black Rednecks and White Liberals, in which he argues that "internal" cultural habits of industriousness, thriftiness, family solidarity, and reverence for education often play a greater role in the success of ethnic minorities than do civil-rights laws or majority prejudices.