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April 3, 2006

Thucydides, Aquinas and the GWOT

There was a fascinating symposium on the "Future of War" recently in the pages of "Historically Speaking, the Bulletin of The Historical Society," with some important lessons to be heeded in the GWOT.

As Thucydides argued, people go to war for one, or some combination of, three reasons: fear, honor, and interest. He is largely correct. However, a proper understanding of our actual human nature compels us to refine the Thucydidean formula to conform to what we have described in past posts as the three motors of human action: material interest (survival and growth, source of fear), social interest (order and justice, source of honor), and intellectual interest (discovery of truth and human flourishing, source of our supreme "interest" per se).

The principles of just war that Thomas Aquinas advanced are derived from natural law reasoning about man and society that is always and everywhere applicable. It is our unchanging human nature that gives war its perennial characteristics despite changes in technology and tactics.

The distinguished participants in the forementioned forum wrongly conceive the current wave of Islamic violence as a war against Western modernity. This is a fatal flaw, and I can only hope the administration (which listens to such folks as were on that panel) is not under this mistaken impression. Jihadists, Islamic Puritans, are on the warpath everywhere and against every non-Puritanical Islamist regime in the world.

They fear for their survival (material interest) because they recognize their own inferiority. True, it is largely against the technological, cultural, political and economic superiority of the West, but that fear drives them to strike out everywhere where they can obtain a foothold (their sense of justice, Islamic honor).

Read the rest...

Posted by Dumb Ox at April 3, 2006 3:01 PM

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