Pacifism vs Due Process

Some backchannel feedback on my warriors=pacificists post denied that pacifists were fetishizing war, claiming instead that they are really more concerned with due process issues. The due process issues take two forms:

  1. non-pacificists are too at risk of preemptively attacking countries that are not actually dangerous therefore we should defer all decision making to the UN and follow international law (even if our enemies don’t)
  2. the vast majority of people in “bad countries” are peaceful and it is unfair to punish them for the behavior of the few. we should be loath to attack another country for fear of the civilian casualties we might inflict.

To me, both of these views are the sine-qua-non of war fetishing. The international law argument effectively says that there should be some higher power that should make these sorts of decisions so we don’t have to. To these folks, whatever “international institutions” decide is correct BY DEFINITION — regardless of the representative quality of international institutions with respect to the people’s involved (are ethnic minority dictatorship’s legitimate?) and without regard to the vulnerability of these intitutions to all sort of real world corruptions (oil bribes, threats of terrorism, etc.). Notably, the international law folks do not appear to be making efforts to create representative and trustworthy international institutions, they are just using these intitutions to wish problems away.

Civilian casualty pacifists never recognize that it takes two to tango; they hold the dangerous governments responsible for engangering their people and provoking war (e.g. they never protested Saddam’s failure to comply with UN resolution 1441). Or, they refuse to recognize the obvious fact that real world people/governments have real world and substantive conflicts of interest. If these pacfists were truly interested in avoiding civilian casualties, they would have to make judgements about the relative goodness/badness of each of the two sides in conflict and make judgements about which side should back down (which outcome is best for the populations involved — rather than their governments!). As above, the failure to make this sort of judgement is a failure to participate in the real world. It is simply a fetishizing of war and the responsibility for it that they don’t want to take.


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