New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


No Glory in War

November 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Guest Author, Politics

Reflections on the Day from a Veteran

by Andrew Larkin

I am a veteran — of the Vietnam era, as are my friends and my brothers.  My father, uncles, and an aunt were veterans of World War II.  A great uncle was stationed on a battleship during World War I.  A great-grandfather fought in the Civil War, an immigrant in an Illinois regiment who suffered the rest of his life from his bullet wound.

Veterans Day on November 11 was formerly Armistice Day, celebrating the end of the Great War.  But it has turned from a celebration of peace to a celebration of the false glory of war.

War damages everything associated with it, not only the sailors and soldiers but the civilians including the children, not only the body but the mind and the spirit.  Glorification of war becomes support for more war, for accepting the easy violence of war instead of the difficult peaceful resolution of human problems. (more…)

War’s Lingering Phantoms

February 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Hearing the Stories as a Prelude to Rebuilding

by Robert C. Koehler

“War’s lingering phantoms haunt every society.”

As two hellish, costly and needless wars struggle toward collapse, this is the time — now, right this minute, before the next false alarm goes off — for us to look honestly at the cost and quality of national security based on militarism. It’s time to squeeze the romance out of war and get it through our heads that war is not inevitable.

War is just another form of mass murder. Its core principle is dehumanization — of all participants, the enemy and the good guys. This is because you can’t hate, dehumanize and train to kill “the other” without dehumanizing yourself and damaging your soul.

“Kill! Kill! Kill, without mercy, Sergeant! . . . Blood! Blood! Bright red blood, Sergeant!”

The dehumanization happens at an individual level, to soldiers who, in basic training, go through an intense process of overriding their humanity and establishing “muscle memory” that allows them to kill on command; and who then participate in the killing of the enemy — often enough, in our current wars, the killing of civilians, including children — in battle situations. (more…)

A Helping Hand

February 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Politics, Winslow Myers

Hard Power, Soft Power, and the Power of Good 

by Winslow Myers

Mark Helprin’s novel, In Sunlight and in Shadow, tries to articulate as noble as possible a justification for the tragic violence of war. The novel is set just after World War II, so it is not surprising that the rationale is based in the Churchillian mindset of the campaign to defeat Hitler. In the novel, an older veteran argues: “How many millions have to die, Harry, before we stop worrying about unintended consequences?”

Harry, a younger vet, responds: “What if all nations decided to kill off what in their eyes was mortally dangerous leadership? It would become a Hobbesian world.”

“The world just lost 50 million dead. Is that Hobbesian enough? Politeness can be a form of collaboration, or suicide…. You have to play it by ear, as you know, as you must know, having fought your way through Sicily, France, Holland and Germany, your responsibility is not to be morally pristine, but to preserve the maximum number of innocent lives. How many men have you killed?” (more…)

Up from the Depths

February 09, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Pat LaMarche

A Homeless Veteran Strives to Escape LA’s Skid Row

by Pat LaMarche

{Editor’s Note: NCV Contributor Pat LaMarche is on a journey to explore homelessness and poverty in the U.S. NCV will post updates from her travels…}

We’ve parked the RV we’re using to travel our 5000 miles through the nation’s impoverished communities at my cousin’s place. Frank lives in San Marino, California. Google says Frank’s house is 12.9 miles from Skid Row. Moving back and forth between the two locations, it becomes more and more difficult to believe that’s true.

One thing that is true is that it almost never rains here. Months will go by without a single drop. So why are the streets in San Marino and Skid Row wet? Well, in San Marino they water the lawns. And, if you suspend your 21st century concept of sanitation for a few minutes, you can figure out what’s happening on the streets of the nation’s unofficial homeless capital. (more…)