Martin Luther King On War

Many thanks to Juan Cole at Informed Comment for highlighting MLK’s remarks on war.

“Sleeping through the Revolution”: Martin Luther King on the Evils of War

Here are some excerpts on war from Martin Luther King, Jr., “Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution. …

‘I want to say one other challenge that we face is simply that we must find an alternative to war and bloodshed. Anyone who feels, and there are still a lot of people who feel that way, that war can solve the social problems facing mankind is sleeping through a great revolution.’

Dr. King was not saying that war cannot solve military problems, you will note. He was saying that it cannot solve social problems. He would have scoffed at the Neoconservative idea that you can spread democracy by war or can improve peoples’ economy by war. He thought that the mid twentieth century was witnessing a revolution in human affairs that made war increasingly unacceptable. He probably had in mind nuclear weapons, the use of which normal people consider too horrible to contemplate. He may also have been thinking of Gandhi’s attempt to use non-violent non-cooperation in India to expel the British without resorting to guerrilla war.

President Kennedy said on one occasion, “Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.” The world must hear this. I pray to God that America will hear this before it is too late, because today we’re fighting a war. I am convinced that it is one of the most unjust wars that has ever been fought in the history of the world. Our involvement in the war in Vietnam has torn up the Geneva Accord.’

Dr. King recognized that all wars involve the commission of war crimes. Just as no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, no commitment to principles like the Geneva Conventions survives actual warfare in populated areas. The only way to stop war crimes, he is implying, is to stop war.

Read all of it here.

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