PARIS -- The anti-war types are unhappy with France's foray into Mali to help that country's troops eradicate balkanizing terrorism at the request of the Malian government. If even the French aren't "allowed" to go to war -- and under a Socialist president, no less -- then who can?
It would indeed be nice if there were no wars anywhere on Earth. It would also be great to own five BMWs and three private islands. Both are equally unlikely scenarios, yet only the first is accepted as plausible by the perpetually deluded.
Usually the anti-war crowd will say that "imperialist ambitions" cause warfare. But they're fussy about whose foreign-policy ambitions they take issue with. According to the anti-war narrative, only "the West" has foreign-policy ambitions worth critiquing. Rarely, if ever, do you hear them decry the foreign policy of Venezuela, China, Russia or Iran, but like truffle pigs, they'll ferret out any links between a Western country and any remotely cooperative entity located between Earth and Pluto.
In their minds, if the West packed up and vacated their interests around the globe, the entire world would go back to being a place of peace and harmony -- like it was when the only battles occurred between tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops. Realistically, it would just leave vacuums of opportunity for the competition to freely exploit.
Reasonable people with a historical perspective understand that turf wars are man's (and all animals') natural state. "But we've evolved to be more sophisticated than that now," the anti-war types argue. Oh, have we really? Why would anyone think that? Perhaps because no other generation in the history of the world has ever scored as well on Angry Birds? Airplanes, cars and a lot of other advanced technological products of intelligence were created generations ago -- and they still had wars.
The sophisticated mind doesn't waste time battling the historically inevitable, but rather accepts it and contemplates the more important question: "Which side of this particular conflict best represents my values and the kind of world I would like to see?" If you appreciate the way of life in Iran or Russia over that in North America, then you would, in principle, support the non-Western sphere's competitive efforts on the world stage -- and vice versa. If you think these two spheres are objectively equal -- as many anti-war types do -- you're delusional.
That's not to say that in supporting Western interests you can't also respect your competitor and attempt to understand their positions and actions. And right there, precisely at that nexus, is where diplomacy finds its only refuge. If you're looking for any sophistication in thought these days, it's in realizing that war is a normal, natural state, and admitting that you feel a natural affinity to one side, but that your opponents feel just as strongly in defending their own competing interests.
Here's how that looks in real life: The United States may have wanted to continue with the "civil society" commission in Russia and its mandate to help that country build democratic institutions. U.S. authorities are lamenting their recent withdrawal from the project due to Russia's lack of cooperation. But really, for how long would America be amenable to another country's representatives coming in and telling it how to run things on its own turf?
Likewise, the West might not be pleased that Russia is backing regimes in Iran and Syria, but these are countries Russia picked up as trade allies when the West left a vacuum. Dispose of those regimes, and you're messing with the food on their plate.
When you're able to put yourself in your competition's shoes and think like they do, then you can figure out what common points might help in building bridges. Usually that starts and ends with money -- another reality that the anti-war crowd doesn't appreciate. For them, peace can't come through capitalism or trade -- it has to come through unfettered acquiescence to their delusions.
Activists themselves are in large part responsible for some unpleasant components of modern warfare. Unsavory practices from the use of contractors to drones to attempts at media spin can be traced back to a single fact: A lot of people have difficulty accepting the realities of war, and they lack the complexity of thought required for its mitigation.