Diplomacy, Not War

Jean - Lebanon, Pennsylvania
Entered on July 29, 2008
Age Group: 65+
Themes: peace, war

I believe in diplomatic and capitalistic solutions to world problems: diplomacy based on civility and on intelligence that has not been manipulated for domestic political purposes, in commerce between countries and groups.

I grew up in San Francisco, California. My family discussed world affairs with a vengeance and we listened to Edward R. Morrow. Mr. Morrow and we believed in saying things as they were, in the truth as seen, studied and observed.

We survived the Second World War and McCarthyism with interesting events in our lives. As a seven year old, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and we fled San Francisco to the “Peninsula” to the south. The pervasive fear was that if the Japanese could bomb Hawaii they could bomb “The City” and, indeed, there were sighted Japanese submarines off the coast. I wore “dog tags” and was afraid Hirohito would come over the Presidio wall and grab me.

Father enlisted in the Army Air Force the Monday after Pearl Harbor and left for three years. He returned a decorated Lieutenant Colonel having worked on the supply end of the Normandy invasion. Father, a hero in our eyes, had difficulty adjusting to civilian life. His mining business had been declared non-essential to the war effort, much of the equipment confiscated with no remuneration, and it was difficult to restart and earn the same income as before the Second World War.

My maternal grandmother, later the recipient of honorary PhDs from The University of California and Mills College understood the reasons for war declarations, but was disappointed that diplomacy with Japan had not worked; she was a member of commissions to try and resolve differences. “Granny McLaughlin”, as we called her, was later involved in logistics for the United Nations Conference in San Francisco. During the McCarthy era she was in charge of radio broadcasts for the World Affairs Council in San Francisco. Although a registered Republican and careful to enlist speakers on both sides of all issues discussed, including Communism and the Chinese civil war at the time, she was labeled “Communist.”

President John F. Kennedy broadcast an announcement on TV in the early sixties; he had ordered “advisors” to Vietnam. Astonished, Granny said, “That’s a mistake.” She knew a lot about Asia and the pitfalls. We might have had a different outcome in Vietnam and avoided a bloody stalemate in the Korean War if the American Foreign Service Asia and China experts had not been denigrated and fired because of domestic political postures and if we had had diplomatic relations with Communist China. In both the cases of China and Vietnam intelligence had been manipulated and miscalculations made, particularly about the strengths of the indigenous peoples.

Iran and North Korea have had the term “rogue countries’ applied to them by the George W. Bush administration. I believe that bombastic adjectives applied to a so-called rogue country serve only to coalesce a people behind their leaders, thereby giving credence to the applied adjectives.

My hope is that these countries will be brought into the world community by diplomatic overtures and applied capitalism even if that means that freedoms are limited. Freedom and capitalism have come to South Korea and limited freedom and capitalism to Mainland China, after recognition and economic incentives and overtures.

War is seductive; a particular war can be determined to be good or bad, based on one’s circumstance, perception, or the collective memory of a group, but the reasoning to go ahead in many cases is subjective, as well as factual. I think we can all agree that war is a horror, that it should be the last resort.