Journal: News & Comment

Monday, August 02, 2004
# 12:55:00 AM:

Are countries only for war? Or are they for nothing?

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There's some serious thinking going on in "Patriotism and the marshal state," an essay by Jonathon Delacour (via Tim Bray) that was inspired by John Kerry's "I'm reporting for duty" salute when he became leader of the U.S. Democratic Party a few days ago.

Certainly, political leaders were more honest about the warlike nature of nations a hundred years ago. I've been reading Paris 1919, Margaret Macmillan's astounding retelling of the six-month Paris Peace Conference that followed the First World War. Before the human and financial enormities of that conflict, leaders and citizens assumed that wars were what countries did. It was how they grew and gained influence. In Paris, some wanted to change that. But they didn't.

And after the 20th century, which gave us the world's greatest horrors—from the trenches of Belgium to the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Stalinism, and Rwandan machetes rusted with blood—are those of us who believe that people and their countries can go beyond war just deluding ourselves?


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