Tony Peluso writes about how peace comes with a cost.
by Tony Peluso
As a result of the Judeo-Christian influence on Western culture, Americans hopefully reflect on the Christmas holidays as a time of “peace.” As a child in the 50s, I enjoyed the hard won peace that the greatest generation secured from the Nazis and militant Japanese. As a kid, “peace” meant the freedom to pursue my personal goals unimpeded by a totalitarian foreign or domestic government. I have always believed that peace and liberty are inseparable.
Unfortunately, over time Americans learned that the post-war “peace” was a mirage, and only the absence of worldwide, armed conflict. It was a harsh lesson.
The “Cold War” was punctuated by deadly regional conflicts between the superpowers and their protégés. Over decades, large local struggles like Korea and Vietnam (my war), coupled with smaller skirmishes like Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Malaysia, Cuba, El Salvador, and the Falklands demonstrated that true peace was elusive, illusory, and—perhaps—merely a figment of our shared imagination.
My cynicism springs from my knowledge of history and my observations of current events across the planet. At this moment the United States faces an existential threat from radical Islamic terrorism. While Americans seek “peace,” and want no part of conflicts in the Middle East, a megalomaniacal horde conspires to destroy us. If we fail to eradicate this threat, ISIS will happily provide us with the peace of the grave.
Other strategic competitors seek our economic and cultural demise. The Russians and the Chinese challenge the United States in fundamental ways in venues all over the world. Ultimately, they seek to destroy our place in the global community. Failure to defeat these challenges will lead to our economic ruin and the loss of our freedoms.
Given human nature, the combination of liberty and utopian-like peace is probably unattainable. Even so, it remains a laudable goal for us to pursue. However, the hard truth is that there is no possibility of “peace” for freedom loving Americans, so long as our enemies would murder us, and our competitors would seek to destroy us or cause us significant economic or political harm.
Though Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with blood of patriots and tyrants…,” has been taken out of context and misused by the likes of Timothy McVeigh to justify all manner of perfidy, it does reveal a basic truth. There will be no peace of any kind for Americans, unless we are willing and able to fight to secure it.
People who want peace — but will not or cannot fight — become slaves or refugees. This was true 7,000 years ago when the first words were recorded in cuneiform. They are true today as I type them on my computer. The best insurance for the maintenance of peace with liberty is a loaded gun, held in a trained hand by a compassionate and altruistic adult who is willing, albeit reluctantly, to use it to defeat the enemies of peace.
Tony Peluso is the author of two novels including Archangel of Sedona.
Born in Pennsylvania, Peluso grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. He dropped out of Arizona State University after his second year, and volunteered for the US Army. He served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 as an enlisted paratrooper with the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate). Peluso returned to Arizona State University, graduated with distinction with a degree in history, graduated from law school, passed the Texas bar exam, and obtained a commission as a captain in the US Army, Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAGC), in 1975.
Peluso served seventeen more years on active duty as a JAGC officer. In 1992, Lieutenant Colonel Peluso retired to take an appointment as an assistant US attorney in the Tampa Division of the Middle District of Florida. Peluso served more than fourteen years as a federal prosecutor in the US Attorney’s Office. In 2006, he retired from the Department of Justice to assume his current responsibilities.