Valley News Forum for Oct. 29, 2023: A different perspective on war

Published: 10-29-2023 6:20 AM

A different perspective on war

I never wanted to go to war, nor was I naive of its cost. However, duty, honor and selfless service were values ingrained in me at an early age. I wish I was allowed a different life, but why should someone have served in my stead?

I was introduced to Prussian general Carl Von Clausewitz in the Marines; many often unknowingly quoted him. One of his most famous quotes is: “War is simply the continuation of political intercourse with the addition of other means.” In the legal sense it is the justification (act of legislature); in the political sense it is a failure to achieve a goal. In essence war is a bargain.

A recent letter correctly pointed out that the majority of wars are concluded through negotiation. It should also be acknowledged some armistices can be as costly as war and may not result in peace. “Peace is not the absence of war.” The ultimate purpose of government is peace, or what Confucius called “Ren.” From this point of view war is a failure of government.

When one government resorts to war instead of diplomacy (war of aggression), calling for peace is a little redundant. Terrorism is not a legitimate act of war. There’s no political justification for intentionally killing civilians. Perpetrators of these acts have put reason aside. You’re deluding yourself if you believe simple persuasion is the solution.

As Confucian philosopher Xun Zi said: “The benevolent man ... because he loves others, he hates to see men do them harm. The righteous man acts in accordance with what is right, and for that reason he hates to see men do wrong. He takes up arms in order to put an end to violence and to do away with harm, not in order to contend with others for spoil.”

When war does show its ugly face, the best option is a strategy of denial. The defenders must remove the aggressor’s ability to wage war against them. As a community of nations, we all have an interest in stopping war before it spreads and in assisting our neighbor whose home is under attack.

Charles Olsen

West Fairlee

Lebanon roundabout plan makes no sense

Despite 190 residents’ petition objection to its location at the intersection of Mascoma, Mechanic and High streets and nearly $1 million to be added to Lebanon taxpayers, the city seems determined to approve the roundabout plan (“Plan for Lebanon roundabout near final stage, despite push for alternative,” Oct. 13).

Usually if a roundabout plan is considered the plan seeks to correct hazardous conditions, but no accident information has been cited. Despite reference to “skewed angles and inadequate existing sidewalks” and occasional comments to “dysfunction junction,” there seems to be no substantive reason to support a change. In fact the new layout could be even more dangerous and confusing to motorists and cyclists.

Also being considered is another roundabout less than one-half mile away at the intersection of Mechanic Street and Slayton Hill Road and the site of the refurbished and necessary homeless shelter. And, of course, there will be another addition to the taxes paid by the Lebanon taxpayers.

We used to be referred to as the “City of Fountains.” Now are we to be called the “City of Roundabouts”? Or as I would call them, “roundaobstacles?”

Tom McGonis

West Lebanon

Thanks for the good news on climate change!

What a positive and informative commentary on climate change you printed recently! (“The good, the bad and the scary of climate change,” Oct. 19) The writer offered the wise advice that if we

want the issue addressed, then we need to talk about it — with our neighbors, as well as our members of Congress. And the “good” news to be shared is that a game-changing piece of legislation recently reintroduced in the House.

The single most effective climate policy available to reduce America’s carbon pollution is the Energy Innovation Act, H.R. 5744. It works by taxing polluters for every ton of carbon they put into our atmosphere — from wellhead, pipeline or mine — then uses that money to fund monthly carbon cashback checks to every household in the U.S. Those monthly checks are to help us consumers, at the pump and on our heating bills, as the fossil fuel industry squeezes us one last time before they shift away from dirty fuels to more profitable renewables. More good news: Each year the amounts will increase and there’s enough in that check to cover low- and middle-income households’ higher bills; some of us will even come out ahead.

Although some residents may think their elected officials are already in favor of taking action on climate change and don’t need to hear from them, legislators prioritize what constituents ask for the most. Congressional staff tell us that every letter, email, and call gets counted and sorted by topic, and those with higher numbers are the ones their bosses see as something their constituents care about. It’s as simple as that. The squeakier wheel gets more attention.

So, don’t be shy! If you care about the climate, our legislators need to hear you.

Suzannah Ciernia

White River Junction

volunteer lobbyist with Citizens’ Climate Lobby Vermont