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Limits of pacifism

March 27, 2015
Edward Sullivan
San Francisco

In response to Tony Magliano’s March 6 column “Beating swords into plowshares,” I often wonder if Mr. Magliano is living on the same planet as the rest of us.

No sane person wants war. I certainly don’t. But sometimes military action is necessary in order to defeat a greater evil and that action can result in a greater good. It was the American Revolution, a war, which brought the United States into existence. The American Civil War ended slavery and the Second World War stopped and eventually rolled back Nazi and fascist tyranny and stopped the slaughter of the concentration camps that would have sent millions more men, woman and children to their deaths. The outcome of the Korean War has allowed the people of South Korea to live in freedom and prosperity for the past 60 years in contrast to their countrymen in North Korea who have known only tyranny and deprivation.

In the final paragraph of his column, Mr. Magliano blames “poverty and insecurity” for terrorism. Perhaps he was unaware that Osama bin Laden and all the 9/11 hijackers came from wealthy Saudi families. Terrorism is not driven by poverty or insecurity but by a fanatical ideology which like the Nazis seeks to impose its will on others by any means necessary. Perhaps Mr. Magliano will someday realize that pacifism in the face of brutal aggression does not bring peace but instead brings enslavement.

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