Some reflections on a current Freedom of Information appeal.

I admit I have not read Immanuel Kant’s essay “Perpetual Peace” in its entirety– I have read more ABOUT this essay than I have spent time poring through the actual essay itself. As I recall, however, the central theme of this writing was that only when societies and the policy-makers of those societies are able to plainly see, acknowledge, and understand the true costs of war will those societies cease to resort to violent means to achieve political ends.

I am not a utopian idealist who believes we as a global society will be able to achieve this vision by our own labors….. but I do think there is a lot of truth to ponder in this thesis: namely that it is counter to an ideal of peaceful conflict resolution to intentionally hide the realities of war from the public.

Going with this line of thinking, the October 2004 lawsuit against the US Pentagon to release photos of US servicemen’s caskets/bodies returning from our ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is thought provoking and likely well intentioned.

I am thankful I did not live through the 1960s and that entire era of social upheaval– perhaps my views on this would be different if I had lived through those years of seeing our servicemen and women dying in almost realtime on the evening news. Yet I wonder what negative impact a sanitized, censored version of wartime reality can and is having on public opinion and our ongoing commitment to these campaigns. Can we, as a society, enter into an authentic cost-benefit analysis when it comes to a military intervention if we are prohibited by our own government from viewing / confronting the negative “costs” of those endeavors?

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