The nuance of war

Frequently one hears the phrase “perceived nuances” when U.S. foreign policy experts discuss global threats, real or implied, to American self-interest. The OED defines “nuance” as “a slight or delicate variation or difference in expression, feeling or opinion.” Nuance is derived from the French word nuance (shade of color), nuer (to shade) or nue (literally cloud). I am certain that President Bush did not have nuances in mind when he declared on Sept. 17 that no connection existed between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Though the face of this statement calls into question the entire premise for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, it appears that domestic opinion has no nuance for words such as “distortion” or “misrepresentation” when applied to the doctrine of pre-emption as defined by the president. Certainly, there is no shade or variation in world opinion concerning the war in Iraq and the resulting chaos that has ensued from such localized thinking. The misperceptions and presumptions made by the Truman, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations regarding the Vietnamese and their desire for nationalism that led us inexorably into the Vietnam War, is the same neurobiology that propels our present distorted vision and policy in the “War on Terrorism.” They are direct reflections of America viewing the world through “gold-colored” sunglasses, and our inability to see “others” whether as individuals, societies or nations. Is it any wonder that the “War on Terrorism” has so little variation in feeling or expression when it is filtered through this one-way looking glass of national consciousness? The present maelstrom in U.S. foreign policy is based on the assumption that conflict can be resolved only with force. This style of neurophysiological functioning or consciousness presumes that human beings have limited abilities with which to think, act and resolve differences. Because terrorism is based on distorted and limited perception, the use of force will only encourage more distortion and fear. Eventually, we come back to the same problem: the role of consciousness as the basis for thinking and behavior. Unless we can expand individual and collective awareness to create coherence in ourselves and the family of nations and remove the neuro-perceptual basis of terrorism (contempt, hatred, and social incoherence), we will continue the same cycle of punishment and retribution as the legitimate and rational basis for domestic or international conflict resolution. Ultimately, consciousness determines every aspect of individual and collective life. If America is ever to live in a world of peace and stability, it will have to create coherence in its individual and collective consciousness before this coherence will manifest in national and foreign policy directives. If we fail to do this, our collective consciousness will be mired incessantly in the nuance and “fog” of war. Craig G. Campbell is an independent researcher, writer and publisher who writes on health and cultural issues.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!