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War or Peace, Violence or Non-Violence

In 1953, people who hated violence could feel relief. The Communist regime in China and President Eisenhower together wanted an end to the fighting and they negotiated it. And it worked out okay – better some of us would say than if either side had forced a fight to a bitter end, as some had wanted. For South Korea the end of the war helped to launch what some would call an economic miracle.

In late November, 2008, a group from Pakistan launched an attack into Mumbai, India, killing at least 178 people and wounding more than 300. India wanted Pakistan to turn over those who had taken part in planning the attack, and Pakistan resisted, but India has refrained from going after them by a military assault into Pakistan – in other words, war. India did not see the Mumbai attack as part of an effort by Pakistan's government to damage or make war against India. India had to weigh the benefits of making war against the benefits of not making war, and some would say that India's restraint was wise.

Someone favoring peace in the above two instances might also believe that Palestinians might have benefited more from non-violent tactics in expressing grievances against Israelis.

Many see wisdom and success in Martin Luther King Jr.'s use of non-violence in his efforts to win social justice in the United States. King was leading a movement that was appealing to those who favored social tranquility, justice and the rule of law, the court system delivered at least some of it.

But non-violence cannot succeed unless both sides want it. In facing hostile neighbors, Golda Meir in the late 1960s said she hated going to war although Israel wins militarily. She described Israel as having "no alternative."

Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.