No Humans Were Harmed in the Making of This War

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April 30, 2007

"War is the health of the state." ~ Randolph Silliman Bourne

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Where is the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Humans?(1) You know, the larger, better known, and better funded analog to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Where is the Humane Society – for humans? Surely we have such a group, but I am unable to locate it.(2) The need for such a Society is overwhelming, and considering how much effort is put into stopping cruelty to animals (even just on movie sets, for one thing), I cannot believe that the casual cruelty inflicted on prisoners in America's vast domestic gulag, the vile persecution and prosecution of terminal cancer patients for using marijuana to alleviate symptoms of pain or nausea, the intentional torture inflicted on prisoners in the "War on Terror," and the numbing, dehumanizing treatment of children forced to attend government schools (and who are often forcibly drugged) has not brought forth a response in the form of a group specifically dedicated to reducing cruelty to humans – any humans, in any situation and despite anything they might be accused (or even convicted) of.

We do as much for dogs and horses. Why not for our fellow human beings?

Any use of initiated coercion (i.e., coercion not in defensive response to a threat) is evil, hurtful, and harmful. This makes coercive governments the most damaging and dangerous institutions on Earth. In particular, government wars and crusades of all types – not just "shooting wars" – are always horrifying human disasters. Why then do we have so many of them? Answer: because wars and crusades shift money and power from the average person to the power elite, in and out of government. Wars and crusades are intensely profitable for the corporate cronies and supporters of those in power.

Some of the more famous American wars and crusades, and a sampling of their cruel results:

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The War on Terror

Sample result: Widespread torture

Routine and systematic torture is at the heart of America's war on terror by George Monbiot in The Guardian, December 12, 2006. An excerpt:

  • "That the US tortures, routinely and systematically, while prosecuting its 'war on terror' can no longer be seriously disputed. The Detainee Abuse and Accountability Project (DAA), a coalition of academics and human-rights groups, has documented the abuse or killing of 460 inmates of US military prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay. This, it says, is necessarily a conservative figure: many cases will remain unrecorded. The prisoners were beaten, raped, forced to abuse themselves, forced to maintain 'stress positions,' and subjected to prolonged sleep deprivation and mock executions."

The War on Alcohol (AKA Prohibition; 1920 – 1933)

Sample result: thousands of agonizing deaths from bad booze

Time Magazine, October 28, 1928:

  • "The most rabid anti-salooner would find it hard to vilify a lawbreaker who went shrieking to death with poison scourging his entrails. Last week an epidemic of poison liquor deaths struck Manhattan."

The War on Drugs

Sample result: Widespread rape of non-violent prisoners

Stories from Inside: Prisoner Rape and the War on Drugs, March 22, 2007:

  • "It is widely accepted that the U.S. 'war on drugs' has been both costly and ineffective. Less known is the devastating link between current U.S. drug policies, prison overcrowding, and rape behind bars."

The War on Poverty

Sample results: Fatherless families (Mom fears loss of benefits otherwise) and resulting harm to children; underclass status for millions From How "Poor" are America's Poor? by Robert Rector, September 20, 1990:

  • "Vast welfare spending designed to eliminate material poverty has in turn generated a new underclass, destroying the work ethic, family structure, and the social fabric of large segments of the U.S. population. Most material poverty has been replaced by a far deeper and more serious 'behavioral poverty.'"

The Indian Wars (part of the semi-official crusade of Manifest Destiny)

Sample results: Genocide of Native Americans and theft of their land

The War in or against [insert name of foreign nation]

Sample results: Death for thousands or even millions; injuring, maiming, blinding, and crippling of many more; a lifetime of grief for surviving children, spouses, and other families and friends

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Coercion is always wrong; in human terms, coercion is a crime (except when used in defense). The harm of government coercion is hugely amplified when governments move from spending their coerced incomes on roads and courts and other "basic government functions" and begin spending tax money on wars or social crusades. The results nearly always include a dramatic increase in cruelty, which supporters and beneficiaries of the war downplay, hide, or attempt to justify. There exists no group (so far as I know) that focuses on ending cruelty to humans from any source and no matter what excuse is being used to justify the cruelty.

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(1) There IS an organization named Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Humans, but it focuses only on stopping genital mutilation – a worthy cause, but only one of the many sources of cruelty that humans are subjected to.

(2) Amnesty International comes close, except for their assumption that coercive government (including especially the UN) is necessary rather than the actual problem, their insistence that government-supplied benefits constitute "rights" (see Article 26 in the link, for example) despite the coercive taxation required and despite the corruption and harm caused by providing benefits via government, and their refusal to support individual rights to effective self-defense (i.e., gun ownership).

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Glen Allport's picture
Columns on STR: 111

Glen Allport co-authored The User's Guide to OS/2 from Compute! Books and is the author of The Paradise Paradigm: On Creating a World of Compassion, Freedom, and Prosperity.