End of War: Veteran Paul Chappell on Peace

Friday, May 25, 2012

by Kevin Dooley "Each war is different, each war is the same" (Kevin Dooley/flickr)

As part of our End of War series, Paul Chappell, peace leadership director for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Iraq War veteran, and author of Peaceful Revolution: How We Can Create the Future Needed for Humanity's Survival, discusses his own experience of war--and how that informs his ideas about how to get to peace.


Paul Chappell

Comments [38]

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Mar. 06 2013 10:47 PM
Al from Marine Park from Brooklyn, NY

There will not be an end to war until there are no more weapons manufactured and sold to fill private and government coffers.

Jun. 13 2012 11:16 AM
Mike from Inwood

When it comes to educating men to be different people, I'd like to point out that the primary care givers of both little girls and little boys are women. Read "In a Differnt Voice". When women bond with their female children, (and talk to them in different voice) they inevitbly push their male children away and talk to them in another voice. It was my mother who taught me that I did not belong with my sisters, not my distant father.

May. 26 2012 01:38 AM
Jackie Goodrich from Brooklyn

To me, the more urgent questions focus on understanding our own behavior as a nation: Why is the United States so strongly inclined toward waging war (as evidenced by our nearly unbroken history of violence toward various peoples, domestically and abroad)? What is it we think we're doing when we wage war? What are we actually doing?
I believe we need to recognize the carefully tended mythology of war for what it is——compelling, seductive stories that capture some of our deepest emotions and keep us trapped in delusion. Let's instead find the courage to face truth and look at war's real impact on us and on those we fight. Until we are willing to do so, we as a society (although not all of us as individuals) will continue to bear arms, drop bombs, and deploy drones against other men, women, and children.
Many individuals are bearing witness to their experience of war. These are the people we should be paying attention to before we decide to loose the next round of death and destruction. One place to listen is

May. 25 2012 04:29 PM
Sylvia Mendel from NYC

In my work-life post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was my specialty. Depression, the most frequently diagnosed mental health disorder frequently masks PTSD then anti-depressants are prescribed. PTSD is endemic in the population from events that are private wars, e.g. domestic abuse, rape, child abuse in families and in institutions where it is covered up. This morning I heard an NPR interviewer express surprise that foster children have PTSD. It's extraordinary how rigid denial can be. We've known about PTSD under different names at least since World War I. Yet it is only now that officials in government and the military service fully acknowledge its existence and its severity. What no one has said yet is that it changes the physiology of the brain which affects learning therefore life choices.

We haven't looked yet at the collateral damage i.e. the destruction of families and the intergenerational reverberations. Further, we have not adequately addressed how children can grow into caring productive people unless we address the private wars that cripple their potential. I refer to the child abuse hidden for so many years in families and in institutions supposed to care for children. This ignorance haunts my old age and I feel like King Lear howling in the wind. The DSMV could change this. They ask for public comment late in the game - deadline June 13th. If they applied the knowledge we have about child development and trauma and its central role in later events the effect on children's lives would be almost miraculous. Teachers could be trained to note the symptoms and
legal mechanisms could probably protect them more effectively. It's notable that PTSD is prevalent in prostitutes. This research was reported once in the NY Times many years ago. Some like to say that this "profession" is a choice and some call it "sex work." Choices are only choices when there are options. If there's sexual abuse in the family many children run away and prostitution presents as the only option. Children can't learn when they fear going home. It isn't different from the battles that one gets paid for. Interviewers on public radio unintentionally lie by omission. They need to study the subject more diligently. They are in many ways untutored. For, ultimately it's information we don't have or lies of deliberate omission that put us all at risk, but especially children. So those who need to do better don't ask the relevant questions because they're not aware of gaps in the narratives. I believe there can be an end to war. However, those who cannot defend themselves against predators are defenseless and cannot envision an end to their situation. And isn't it the children we must teach the tactics of peace?

May. 25 2012 02:58 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

My solution: Draft women into the military and let the men stay at home to take care of the kids.

May. 25 2012 12:15 PM
Jessie Henshaw from way uptown

Paul, I really appreciate your and Brian's acceptance that male culture may be primarily responsible for how much of the world's violence is done by men.

There's a partial insight as to why, that I finally found recently. It's that men strongly tend to see the world and relationships conceptually, and defined by their own thinking then, to be logical to themselves. That's naturally dangerous to think that way in a changing world.

Concepts are limitlessly adjustable, the realities aren't. So men tend to get lost and not understand what's changing when relationships are being pushed to the limits. They also use power to seek power, naturally pushing relationships to the limits...

If you ask women about that they mostly understand immediately, but men are so invested in their concepts, especially "experts" who have invested their whole lives in their way of explaining things, it's quite hard for them to distinguish between their theories and the physical subjects they're about. It's a particularly confounding barrier to my talking with other scientists, actually, which is how I noticed it. They frequently can't even acknowledge that the world is different from their concepts, for example.

May. 25 2012 11:51 AM
Jon from Manhattan

Where does one begin? This segment was about as insightful as an all-night, drug-enhanced jabber-fest at some B level state college. The callers had more to say than these two.

May. 25 2012 11:49 AM

Thank you. Ms. La-di-da made me sick. Any tall or plain girl knows that women are as vicious as men, perhaps more so.

May. 25 2012 11:49 AM
brooklynmom78 from brooklyn

I was reading some pop psychology stuff about different relational types dopamine driven, oxytocin driven, etc. If I remember correctly, I read something about a study that showed that the oxytocin type could be the most loving but would also be the most viscious and confrontational if provoked, kind of a double edged sword. Cold analytical types are slow to go to war, whereas emotinal types commit crimes of passion.

My opinion: regardless of the etiology of war, there are times when it is necessary. Compromise is always wrong when it violates your basic principles.

May. 25 2012 11:45 AM
Marion Appel from Chinatown

The dehumanization Paul Chappell describes as a necessary "training" for participation in especially civil war is also, obviously, a tactic used in stirring the soup of contemporary politics. i.e. getting out the partisan vote, rathter than seeking to improve the systems through productive discourse... So perhaps to really end war, we'd need to look to also stop participating in this sort of preparatory, domestic battlefield.

May. 25 2012 11:45 AM
lide from brooklyn

Would the guest please stop repeatedly using PIT BULLS as an example of aggression?

May. 25 2012 11:43 AM
Dennis from Manhattan

Don't you think that cheap energy has been at the foundation of the prosperity and peace in the world relative to our past. If that resource dwindles should we expect our cultural and institutional achievements disappear as we return to our darkest days of violence.

May. 25 2012 11:42 AM
Bob from Flushing

The problem with the caller's World War II justification is that the U.S. has been taking a victory lap ever since; it has enshrined the military and allowed it to become far too big a driver of our national economy.

May. 25 2012 11:41 AM

He should have stopped with Europe as an example of peaceful states.

His example of China discredits him! There is no war in China because China is a bully (if not economically), physically, legislatively, and psychologically.

May. 25 2012 11:41 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

Again, your gues fails to see the big picture.

Yes Europe today, particularly western Europe is peaceful. But it was not up until WWII. It is only after the destruction of WWII that this pattern ended in Europe.

So that is basically about 70 years of a break in that pattern. that is a BLIP of time in historical terms. Your guest is premature in declaring Europe an example that war can be abolished completely. Let Europe retain that level of peace for another 200 years and that argument might be more convincing.

May. 25 2012 11:41 AM
Amy from Manhattan

On the idea that people went to war out of love for their families, for much of history men's families were looked on as property, & defending your family equated to defending what was "yours." I'm not saying there wasn't also love of family, but there was also an element of men making sure their "seed" would continue.

May. 25 2012 11:41 AM
Hal from Brooklyn

The lady commenter makes a key point. It is supported by Robert Sapolsky's research with baboons that showed that when the alpha males are eradicated, the culture becomes matriarchal and less violent.

May. 25 2012 11:38 AM
Tina from Queens

He is right 99% - men ARE beligerant, but also educable

May. 25 2012 11:38 AM

Now he's being sophomoric.

May. 25 2012 11:38 AM

Turned it off the radio. Friday May 25th 11.34am The anti men rant by that woman is part of the problem. Education the encourages people to think not just fill with facts is what is needed.

May. 25 2012 11:37 AM
Robert from NYC

Well the point is that we should educate and train future Hitlers to prevent them from becoming Hitlers. Let's not go back, history is over, it should be used as an example of how to prevent what happened but we need not explain what happened, just why and how to prevent it in future.

May. 25 2012 11:36 AM
JM from Queens

Catherine calls up to "dogpile " on men We live in a society in the USA now where straight men are constantly demonized.

May. 25 2012 11:36 AM
Mike from Inwood

As women acquire power, they become like men. If women are historically less violent, it's because they've been historically poweress.

May. 25 2012 11:33 AM
Marc from Brooklyn

Retired officer, combat vet, and amateur historian here:

Your guest is interesting, to be sure, but he's omitting much. He's not mentioning what we today call criminality. We've always looked in awe and praised to aggressor, the "go get 'im" members of our communities. For example, Erik the Red, as a child, struck down one of his playmates with an axe -- and was heaped with praise by his community. Booty, loot, was a major motivation for military personnel throughout history. Roman legionaries often threatened mutiny if their commanders considered letter an enemy city surrender rather than be stormed: attacking a fortified position was always dangerous, but it was the only way to secure loot. That's why Caesar's men loved him: according to Suetonius, Caesar was generous with booty. Indeed, as late as the 19th century Royal Navy crewmen were entitled to a specified share of captured loot after every encounter. Yes, love -- or more precisely, fear of loosing a loved one/loved thing/loved ideal -- motivates much, but that's always from a defensive angle. Someone, usually high up the food chain, had to get the ball rolling, and his motive was almost always greed: greed for wealth, greed for power, greed for vanity and accolades.

May. 25 2012 11:30 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I wish Mr. Chappell were correct about man's inclination toward peace, but I suspect he is not. It is my belief that sports are what men do when they have no war to fight; it is a way of channeling those violent tendencies, not only through actual physical engagement, but also through intangible rules.

As a matter of fact, many of the laws of the Judeo/Christian bible were instituted because of man's natural tendency to take what he wants through violence. Cain and Abel were the first examples of this type of behavior and the sociological evidence until G-d issued the tablets to Moses was of violence. "Thou shalt not kill" was a response to that evidence, but a law (rule, regulation) is an intangible and sport is a physical alternative.

May. 25 2012 11:29 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

Roman soldiers did fight for money and benefits that their general could bestow upon them and land granted to them. But Romans did also believe that they were bringing civilization to societies that were lacking it. They did actually have ideals. It was complicated 9as it is today).

However I agree witht he general thrust of Jesse's comments below...the guest has made a series of assumptions that he provides as "evidence".

the flight or flight response in an individual is "evidence" that we are not naturally geared to war? Ummmmm, I would cite the entire whole history of humanity which has been marked by war after war after war and various atrocities as much more compelling evidence that we are.

May. 25 2012 11:29 AM
James L

Al Qaida and Islamic extremism wouldn't exist without US support for oppressive regimes in the Middle East. DUH!!!!!

May. 25 2012 11:29 AM
Ana from NJ

Is war necessary? I have always been a pacifist, but lately I catch myself thinking that the only thing that would clean the cancerous corruption between governmetn and drug cartels in my native country of Mexico would be a civil war. Some of us living in the US are self-exiled scared to go back and my family there is terrified of who is going to be a victim next!!! How can somebody live like that!!??

May. 25 2012 11:28 AM

I "came of age" (always liked the sound of that phrase) when the draft was opposed as a way of depriving the "war machine" of one of its necessary resources. For reasons I couldn't begin to fathom, the fashionable argument now seems to be that consenting to the legitimacy of the draft will somehow prevent war.
When will they ever learn?

May. 25 2012 11:28 AM
Penny from Downtown

Consider the other main type of propaganda poster: enemy as monster. It plays on the inherited fear that the animals in the dark outside the campfire ring will attack the family. Of course many soldiers fight as an economic boost, but the propaganda always operates. Remember all the Viet Nam guys with their "John Wayne thing." Monsters beyond the campfire are explicit in Ford.

May. 25 2012 11:27 AM
Peter from Manhattan

Interesting ideas, but I wonder if War hasn't been evolving faster than our ability to reject it in social and political terms. Perhaps we can prevail on one another to no longer have our young people engage each other in combat. But what about drone strikes? Already there is research into software routines that will select targets and attack them without human intervention. If we continue down this path, will "War" be rendered such an abstraction that we will no longer even recognize what it is?

May. 25 2012 11:26 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

I really like Chappell's argument that we fight wars because we want to protect our loved ones. However, it doesn't take much for human beings to act violently toward one another, and when it comes to following orders, we become robots. Just look at the Nazis and other dark periods of history.

I am sad to say that I see humankind as inherently violent. However, I do believe that we can change. It will take a very long time and a lot of major changes within us. It may even take a visit from an alien species to show us the way.

May. 25 2012 11:25 AM
John A.

Penalty for starting war - Death. Oops that doesn't work.
Still, I'm listening intently.

May. 25 2012 11:24 AM
Mike Levine from Brooklyn

I don't recall the word "warior" being used to describe soldiers in previous wars.
I now hear it all the time; as in "wounded warriors".
Has the all volunteer military created a "warrior class?

May. 25 2012 11:23 AM
Bella from Brooklyn

Genocide seems to engage a disgust response, not an empathetic one. Also, curious to know what makes the Captain believe man can/must be categorized as either violent or nonviolent. Both sides seem like untenable positions.

May. 25 2012 11:22 AM

Uh, no. Joining the army for centuries has been about elevating yourself out of poverty.

The Roman soldiers did not give a flying fudge about fighting Visigoths. They did it for money. They weren't fighting for anything noble.

And most armies of the ancient world were mercenary. They fought for money. Not beliefs. This bro is straight wrong.

May. 25 2012 11:20 AM
albert kaufman from Brooklyn

One way to start to end war is to eliminate weapons manufacturing. So, (1) why has there not been an exposé of weapons manufacturers?; (2) why have peace demonstrators not picketed weapons factories?; (3) why hasn't there been violence against weapons factories and manufacturers similar to those against abortion providers?

May. 25 2012 11:17 AM

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