Trump vs. Kim’s case is becoming the concern of each citizen of the World. Both heads of state have been holding their civilian populations hostage to the prospect of nuclear war. That raises the stakes to a large extent. This conflict could result in mass death.
Back in 1992 when George H. Bush had a conflict with Saddam Hussein over Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the vice president of Iraq suggested that they have a duel and leave everyone else out of it.
“Bush wants to attack the whole Iraq, the army and the infrastructure,” the Iraqi VP said.
If such a call is genuine, then let the American president and a selected group with him face a selected group of us and we choose a neutral land and let [U.N. Secretary-General] Kofi Annan be a supervisor and both groups should use the same weapon. A president against a president and vice president against a vice president, and a duel takes place, if they are serious. And in this way we are saving the American and Iraqi people.
Notice the VP’s emphasis on the standards here. The standards of engagement are customary with duels. They should be endless supply of time: weapons, paces, time of day, et cetera. Truth be told, many duels in the past did not occur because both parties could not abide by the rules. Both just kept their pride and left.
Rethinking a Duel
The costs of the subsequent quarter century of war are incalculable, but they include not only mass death on all sides and vast property destruction but destabilization of the entire region, a horrifying refugee crisis, and the rise of ISIS.
No question that the duel is a terribly violent tradition and the liberals of the 19th century were right to shame it into near non-existence. But look at the costs of what has replaced it!
If we were really pressed to choose between a duel with one death (of a person party to the conflict) or war with millions dead (none of whom are responsible for the conflict), it isn’t really a choice. By comparison, the duel seems positively civil.
Plus, dueling between politicians in the United States was extremely common in the past. The most famous one of all was the one between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. But at all levels of society, hundreds were taking place: between statesmen, families, business competitors, and so on.
The liberals of the time inveighed against them on the solid grounds that society was increasingly discovering more peaceful methods of resolving disputes. Surely it is time to give up these premodern practices!
That seems like a good idea until you consider what replaced it after the duel went away. It began with the Great War, the first total war in history in which politicians determined the fates of whole civilian populations in countries not in their jurisdiction. It is a level of horror that anti-duel liberals like Mark Twain could never have imagined.
Then it got worse as weapons became more powerful. Forget two dudes on a field firing after 10 paces. Now we had millions rounded up and slaughtered by millions of others who were drafted to fight politicians’ wars, while those party to the conflict luxuriated in bunkers and gave orders. Talk about violence! Talk about injustice!