Reflections on Pacifism

Jan 26, 2024

100DaysToOffload Pacifism Politics

Reading time: 3 minutes

The world seems to be going mad recently, with wars breaking out left and right, so for the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about my long held pacifist beliefs and if they’re still applicable in 2024. Content warning obviously, this is political.

I’ve always been a pacifist, all my life. I don’t even know where these beliefs really come from, but I was never into weapons, fighting, war, aggression etc. and I consider them one of my fundamental beliefs in my life.

I was born in what was then West Germany in the early 80s, which was a politially fairly turbulent time, but by the time I became a teenager it was the mid 90s, the Berlin wall had fallen, Germany was reunited, the Soviet Union had collapsed and the tension between East and West had eased considerably. Things were peaceful in western Europe, and being pacifist and against war and aggression is always easy when all of this is far away from you.

But now it’s not so far away anymore. Now we’re faced with one of our neighbours a few countries over attacking the biggest country in Europe with the intention of occupying at least parts of it, possibly more. And if they succeed, well Mr. Putin is pretty openly talking about his future plans to “make Russia great again”, so to speak.

Combine that with the prospect of a second Trump presidency in the US, and Europe will be faced with dealing with an aggressor in the East while not being able to rely as much on support from the political ally in the West as it used to be in the past. So Europe and especially Germany will have to considerably increase its spending on its military and the production of weapons, not for attacking anyone, but to be able to defend ourselves and our neighbours in the case of an attack, and of course also as a deterrent to prevent such an attack in the first place.

And now here I am. I formed my anti-war and anti-military beliefs in times of peace, and I largely stand by them (my country is after all responsible for one of the worst wars in human history, and I never want this to happen again), but I also have to face the reality that we need to be able to defend ourselves against a potential aggressor, and that means having a strong military to begin with. In fact, this need was always there, we just outsourced it to the US (mostly), but that might not be possible for much longer.

I listened to an interview with a high ranking German military officer recently, and he said in order to be able to successfully defend ourselves, we have to be able to fight a war, and this also means we have to able to win a war, otherwise there’s no point to it. And as much as I hate to admit it, but I can’t argue with this. So I will have to inject some more realism into my core beliefs in the future.

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