Waging Peace – Short Story – Screenplay Sketch

WC = 2454


Genre: Speculative Fiction

Title: “Waging Peace”

The defense think-tank, hidden deep beneath the mountain range, is unknown to all but a few in high government.

The lead scientist now approaches the podium to address an audience of scholars, ethicists, legal experts, religious leaders, and a small host of high rank military.

The public address system hums momentarily as an engineer adjusts the microphone.

The screen on the wall behind the podium proclaims only five stark words:

Permanent Endocrine Activase Containment Ethnocide

The scientist begins to address the audience:

“As we all know, the code name for this project is P-E-A-C-E. Today we have assembled here to debate and vote upon the deployment of this new technology which has acquired the nickname PEACEFUL WAR.”

(A low nervous laughter ripples through the audience.)

“The vaccine which we have developed is specific to genetic traits peculiar to our enemy’s ancestry. When the agent of the vaccine enters a human body through the skin and encounters those specific genetic codes, it activates and proceeds to integrate itself into the genetic structure of every cell, causing permanent sterility in both males and females, by prohibiting the chromosomal reduction division necessary for fertilization. The affected individuals are totally unaware of what is happening to them. There is no pain, no illness, no side effects. The only symptom is sterility in men and barrenness in women. “

Several professors of Ethics voice their objections on the morality of deploying such a technology.

Then, the spokesperson for the military generals steps to the podium:

“I have been asked to address you today and enumerate those reasons in favor of deploying
P-E-A-C-E. I have decided to read to you a lecture which I heard many years ago, at West Point, from my professor of military ethics, entitled,

“Morality vis a vis Military Strategic Objectives”

The General begins to read a transcript of the old Academy lecture:

“War is never moral; it is at best unavoidable and expedient.

When a nation, or an alliance of nations, perceives some threat to their sovereignty, and when strategic targets or measures have been defined, whether it is of the scale of surgically precise missile strikes at bases or plants, in which a few dozen lives are lost, or whether it is of the scale of the landing at Normandy in which thousands of lives are lost, or the bombing Dresden or of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in which hundreds of thousands of lives are lost, the fact remains that there is a price to be paid in terms of human life, both for the enemy and for the invading forces, and the magnitude of loss is defined and deemed reasonable and necessary. That price is in terms of human lives lost, on both sides. Casualty and death is an unavoidable aspect of military actions. Whether only one life is lost, or ten lives or one thousand lives, or a million lives, is not an issue. We tend to think nothing of the news report of ten fatalities. We are alarmed by one thousand fatalities. Should the fatalities reach one million we are revolted by what we perceive as a morally reprehensible destruction of human life. Yet the simple fact remains that any human life is of inestimable value, and taking one life is no more or less disturbing than the sacrifice of 100,000 lives or even a million lives, provided the strategic goal justifies the magnitude of the loss. It is not the number of lives lost, but the justification of such losses from a strategic point of view. If the loss of human life amounts to an entire city, or even an entire nation, we categorize the event as a genocide or ethnocide or holocaust. But, from a strategic military perspective, the value of the objective is weighed against the loss of life, and hopefully, strategists are motivated to take no more lives than might be considered necessary and justified to achieve a victory. Military and strategic victory will never be equivalent to a moral victory. War and killing is never moral. And there is no war without the taking of human lives.

In retrospect, with historical hindsight, we can say that it was not necessary to destroy the entire German or Japanese people in order to put an end to Hitler and the Nazis in World War II. We can see that the German and Japanese people of today are not the same kind of “ideological” threat as they were in the 1930’s. Times change, people change, nations change. Even the peoples of the former Soviet Union are not quite the same as they were in the 1950’s. Chinese ideology poses a threat today, but I dare say one does not yet think of the annihilation of China as a solution to ensure world peace and democracy.

Where am I heading with this train of thought? I am simply posing a theoretical situation in which one part of the world perceived an “ideological” threat of such magnitude, that the wide-scale annihilation of an entire nation might be proposed as the only certain method to ensure a victory and peace. Current weapons of mass destruction are too damaging to the environment to be deployed on such a large scale as to achieve the annihilation of an entire nation in an efficient and timely fashion, and yet leave the land habitable and the natural resources usable. But, let us imagine, for the sake of argument, that clean, environmentally safe weapons of mass destruction were developed. And let us further imagine that an alliance of nations perceived an ideological threat of such magnitude that a simple military defeat and occupation would not ensure world peace. In such a hypothetical situation, it is conceivable that a strategic decision might be made to destroy the population of an entire country, and that the importance of the military strategic objective would outweigh the price in human life in the minds of those making the decision in favor of such a preemptive strike. No matter how heinous such a military action might appear to us, in terms of loss of human life, it is not more immoral simply because millions of lives are involved, rather than only thousands or hundreds of lives, since the taking of even one human life unnecessarily is in some sense no less worse than taking a thousand lives or a million lives. Strategists weigh the strategic importance of the victory against the price in casualty and mortality which must be paid.

It is not inconceivable that one day an ideological threat of sufficient magnitude might develop which would make the deployment of such weapons of mass destruction seem a reasonable, or perhaps even unavoidable, solution. “
(end of lecture)

The General continues,

“Some measures are ugly, but necessary. Somewhere, someone else, right now, is developing an entirely new weapon of mass destruction, environmentally safe, which will make genocide practical, quick, efficient. The race is on. At stake is the future of the human race as a whole, the future of democracy and freedom of speech, the future of intellectual curiosity.”

A Cardinal objects, “But what of all the innocent women and children?”

“The women and children are the real enemies, the breeding ground for the next century of ideological threat. If we do not exterminate them, then they shall rally and retaliate again and again, decade after decade, century after century. The free world will only be free from the threat of that ideology when their language is a dead language. If people thought that, tomorrow, cancer and aids could be eliminated by annihilating some species of animal, or microbe or virus, (without harming the ecosystem) then it would be done in a heartbeat. The day we discover that we were wrong, and that the ideological threat is a serious threat, but we took no action, then it will be too late to do anything about it, because we shall already be defeated and enslaved.”

An elderly retired professor of Philosophy raises his hand:

“Heisenberg wrote a book in the 1950’s about Quantum. In that book he made an interesting observation: namely, that once certain technologies come into use, just like those things which escaped Pandora’s box, they cannot be “put back in the box” again. Nuclear energy was what he had in mind. But stop and think, you cannot tell the world ‘Oh , sorry, but this Internet thing was a bad idea,’ or ‘sorry, but we must no longer use cell phones.’ Certain things, once they start, won’t go away. Democracy is like that , I suspect. Freedom is like that, free speech, human rights, inalienable rights. It starts with a “shot heard round the world”, but where does it end?

Perhaps our own extinction will be part of some divine justice. We once made the error of assuming that our planet was the center of the universe. We still assume that our existence and survival is of central importance to some divine will. Perhaps we really shall build a sci-fi version of Noah’s Ark, piloted by immortal cyborgs, transporting a genetics lab containing all terrestrial life and a library containing all human culture, in search of a new life in another galaxy. Noah’s ark does not make so much sense, until genetic engineering comes along, and Jurassic Park.

Here is a favorite old Chinese Taoist saying of mine: ‘When the wrong person employs the right means, then the right means yield the wrong result.’

Did you ever hear the Taoist story about the farmer, who left his barn door open, and his one horse escaped, so he was very sad, but his neighbor said ‘be neither sad nor happy for we cannot see to the ultimate end of an event?’

A few weeks later, the horse return, and brought with him a herd of wild horses that he had befriended in the mountains, so now the farmer rejoiced, wealthy in horses, but again the neighbor warned ‘be neither sad nor happy, for we cannot see the end of a matter.’

The farmer’s son chose a wild horse for his own, and proceeded to break and tame the horse but was thrown, and his leg was broken. Now the farmer was sad. But once again the neighbor advised ‘be neither sad nor happy.’

A few days later, the king marched by the farm looking for young soldiers for his army, to go off to battle in a distant land. But when he saw the son with his broken leg, he said ‘this one is useless to us’ and left. Now the farmer rejoiced, that his son was spared. But still the neighbor cautioned ‘be neither sad nor happy.’ “

The professor concluded and the general sighed and continued.

“If I see a dog running through the streets with rabies, I feel no anger, but I shoot the dog, partly from compassion for the dog, and also for my own survival.

For centuries now, we have been waging war. For the first time in history, we have the opportunity to wage peace.

You see, we can wage all the conventional wars we please. But as long as some of the people survive, then, in a few generations, they will raise up more fundamentalist terrorist guerrilla fighters, so the terrorism will go on for decade after decade, generation after generation, because their IDEOLOGY their belief, will never disappear. It will only disappear if every man woman and child disappears who speaks the language of their ideology, nursed in the cradle and culture of such beliefs.

Supposedly, we are always fighting for the sake of achieving some future peace or preserving freedom and avoiding tyranny/dictatorship/slavery/oppression.

Peace, so far, historically, is an illusion, because there always seems to be a war going on somewhere. It is a “catch-22” situation. There is no hope of future peace and an end to war unless one ideological side totally annihilates the other side (which is genocide/ethnocide), but that is considered a terrible crime. Yet all war and killing is an evil . Who can say! Perhaps it is the greater evil to fight conventional wars for centuries, and never have peace rather than bite the bullet, commit genocide, and once and for all eliminate the opposition, so that the surviving world would all be homogeneous in ideological beliefs.

But then, even if America, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand (etc. whoever you see as alike, homogeneous) if they were to annihilate all other nations (whoever you see as the enemy), well, there is no guarantee that the surviving peoples, after 100 years, would not evolve factions of ideological difference, and be at it all over again . Einstein and Bohr and Heisenberg and the other physicists felt regret that they had unleashed this terrible power of nuclear destruction. Look at the scientist, Nobel, who invented dynamite, an explosive. One day, a newspaper mistakenly received the news that Nobel had died, so they printed his obituary, as the man who invented dynamite. When Nobel read this, he decided to leave his fortune to make the Nobel Peace Prize, because he did not want to be remembered only for the destructive power of explosive dynamite.

All of history is like a constantly swinging pendulum, swinging back and forth between various opposites; between wealth and poverty, war and peace, conservative and liberal, debauchery and temperance, religious fervor and atheism, like a grandfather clock. The people made strong say by slavery, or poverty, or suffering, or the challenge of pioneering effect some great change. But then next generation, which is has it easy, in affluence, or peace and safety, why, they loose that pioneering super-hero spirit and become flabby physically and spiritually. There is never any end, never any peace, never any balance or equilibrium where the pendulum stops swinging. We are always struggling and fighting for peace, prosperity, freedom, morality. But we never achieve peace. We are never free. We never eliminate poverty and we are never collectively moral. It is only under suffering and adversity that a people develops the courage and character to seek revolution and reform. The peace and prosperity of that reform and freedom leads to a weak character, to decadence, to decay and corruption, so the cycle repeats all over again.

The physicist, Robert Oppenheimer, was an observer at Los Alamos when they tested the very first atomic bomb (before they bombed Japan). When he saw the mushroom cloud, he spontaneously quoted a verse from the Bhagavad-gita (a Hindu scripture)… where God says, “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.”

On the one hand, people were war weary, and willing to do anything to end it. But, on the other hand, they saw that this new technology was like “Pandora’s box” and that the demon of nuclear weapons had escaped and there was no putting it back in the box.


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