Irenaphobia

There’s no such word as irenaphobia, and this should not surprise us. When the pschoanalysts were inventing Greek monikers to describe various forms of neurotic dread, an irrational fear of peace wasn’t something they were encountering in their psychiatric practices. That’s probably because a morbid fear of peace is not irrational. 

Who could possibly fear peace? Certainly, high-ranking military officers could have a perfectly reasonable fear of peace. If the US Army ever becomes unnecessary for the security of Germany, for example, or Turkey, where tens of thousands of US soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen populate dozens of outposts, fewer general officers will be needed, and the progress of advancement for lesser officers will be impeded. It may be that the widespread endorsement of Russia as a mortal enemy of the USA is meant principally to protect the general staff in Europe from redundancy.

Weapons dealers have to fear peace. Next to banking, no other industry offers such abundant opportunities for the enrichment of rich people. A nation at war or under the threat of war will pay any price for arms and ammunition. The ordnance is promptly exploded when received, creating a need for more ammo and, in due course, replacement of the weapons. As an extra bonus, privileged “contractors” get to “rebuild” what the weapons destroy, always at inflated prices and always with ample tribute to the political operators who hire them.

Republicans fear peace. Their voters–gun-toting, bible-thumping, chick-groping, beer-drinking sports fans–crave a certain amount of vicarious violence to hold their interest while rich people quietly relieve them of their labor and their cash. It’s much easier for rich people to manipulate and deceive the rest of us if they can convince us we face a common threat.

Democrats fear peace. The terms of peace always require compromise, and compromise always requires the better armed party to give something up, and Democrats fear they they’ll be blamed for every concession the peace-makers allow. Also, Democrats, like Republicans, are funded by rich people, and rich people like to invest where the returns are generous, such as in weapons-mongering and war-zone contracting. Democrats hold office at the pleasure of these folks.

Newsmen fear peace. War guarantees them a stream of “news,” in the form of press releases and strategic leaks and rumors, without requiring them to do any work. Often enough, there’s blood and violence to feature, and there’s always space for flag-waving, drum-beating, parades, flyovers, and tearful family reunions with returning warriors, decked out, as they always are, in camouflage fatigues. And, when it comes to war-reporting, news-mongers don’t have to worry about accuracy, ever. Mistakes are inevitable amidst the fog of war, as reporters like to remind us. Newsmen fear peace as they fear boring their audience. They know they can attract a crowd with bloodshed and wanton destruction, and that’s what news is for. Then you can sell that crowd the food, drugs and cosmetics your sponsors are peddling.

Political leaders fear peace. War allows them to bask in the delusion that men and women are willing to die for them. In fact, when lives are lost, the survivors quickly learn that dying (or killing, for that matter) for the glorification of your civilian commanders is not a worthwhile enterprise. And our leaders are, overwhelmingly, lifelong civilians. Their “public service” almost always boils down to self-service. They manipulate soldiers and sailors and their gear just as children play with toys, even as the makers of military gear shower them with material and political support. There’s not much our leaders wouldn’t do to preserve the atmosphere of potential lethal conflict that we breathe today.

Ordinary people don’t fear peace but crave it. Deprived as they are of reliable information about their condition, they end up conceding that peace, like justice, is something that must always remain out of reach. And we’ll be right about that for as long as we allow the irenaphobes to control our lives.

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