It is comforting to think that the world is run by the sane, by the competent, by the deserving.
But nothing is further from the truth. The world is not run by good people.
The best evidence for this proposition is the Iraq War.
The Iraq War was a slaughter house built on lies. The chaos it produced -- which bleeds into the present -- has led to millions of deaths.
The lies were not mistakes, they were intentional. And they were stated and uttered by people who knew much better than to lie about the necessity of a war.
The consequences of these lies have been immense. They are so immense that people have trouble wrapping their heads around the damage, destruction, and deaths that have been caused.
An entire society was destroyed: 38 million people plunged into chaos, the population of California, on the decisions of a handful of people who still walk free.
When leaders are willing to kill millions, and to destroy the lives of millions more, and they do it without a second thought -- in fact, when they go out of their way to lie about the need to kill these people -- then these leaders are not only illegitimate. They are also engaged in crimes.
At the Nuremberg Trials, German leaders were put on trial for illegal warmaking -- crimes that led to the deaths of tens of millions of people in Europe. The Nuremberg Tribunal held that committing unlawful wars was the "supreme international crime," and sentenced German leaders to death for committing these acts. The Tokyo Tribunal did the same for Japanese war criminals.
An aggressive war against another country is a heinous crime. It is an act of mass murder.
No, it is not normal, or good, or right for killers to be in charge of governments.
At the end of the 21st century, there will be two things that animate the heavy judgments against those of us alive at the present.
The first will be our abject failure to have mitigated and forestalled the coming climate crisis.
But the second will be the Iraq War, and the failure of good people to hold their leaders accountable -- leaders who, by every measure, have committed immoral, indecent, and criminal acts against others.
It may not seem like it, but the climate crisis and the Iraq War are related. They are both symptoms and expressions of fundamental social beliefs.
A society that refuses to hold its leaders accountable for an unprovoked war is a society that will let its ruling class commit murder without sanction.
Such a society will also let the Earth devour their children and grandchildren, merely because it is inconvenient to change a life of privilege in favor of one of preparation, mitigation, and environmental and economic sustainability.
Today is a time of technological abundance. But it is also a time of deep and biting poverty in matters of ethics and justice.
Only ethics and justice will pave the way for species-wide survival in the decades to come.
And there is one grave injustice that, if remedied, could be the key towards a future governed by the rule of law and for respect for all peoples and nations -- the Iraq War.
Will anyone ever face justice for the Iraq War? The future is not set in stone. It is created in the present. And there is a future where humans are more pacified, more civilized, and better in tune with nature. In that future, there can be no doubt that those who caused the destruction of Iraq will face the scales and the sword of justice.
But there is also a future where humans remain locked in bloody conflict, where ancient Titans locked in the Earth break free and rebel against humanity, where science goes ignored and where entropy, disarray, and heat are the ruling natural forces. In such a world, justice and civilization will be in short supply. And Iraq will be one of many injustices that, caustic like, produce never-ending cycles of violence and warfare.
One of these is a future worth fighting for. Never give up the struggle for civilization, law, ethics and justice.