||2 EDWIN B. FIRMAGE ENDS AND MEANS IN CONFLICT Even the finest arms are an instrument of evil, A spread of plague. Lao Tzu1 A great danger of our time is our intense preoccupation with the ends we seek, so much so that we have overlooked the effect, usually and perhaps always the determinative effect that our choice of means will have made upon the nature of those ends. This problem is made more difficult in that our vision of our end, or purpose, or goal, is thoroughly interlaced with and powerfully defended or even determined by intense, ferocious ideology. The choice of means barely has a chance to be examined on the basis of its congruence with the end selected. Yet the selection of means will almost surely determine the end and without doubt will crucially affect it. For there exists a dialectic relationship between ends and means that cannot be denied and is ignored at the peril of grotesque distortion of our goals or ends. The problem of congruence between ends and means affects all aspects of our lives. It has obvious consequences for our political institutions, for our society and for our psychological, emotional and spiritual lives. The dialectical relationship between ends and means - the Hegelian thesis, antithesis and synthesis - is nowhere more crucial and apparent than where violence is employed as a means of accomplishing a particular end, for example, to strike our husband, wife or child; or to go to war to resolve a dispute with another state. The most extreme example of this problem would be to use nuclear weapons against another state and risk retaliation in kind in order to defend our society.2 There follows an examination of our determination to use nuclear weapons as a means of defending our society, then an overview of the means by which we decide for war or peace. Some concluding observations are offered on the limits of law upon the nature and control of violence. 1 Tao Te Ching 31, 60 (W. Bynner, trans., New York: Perigee, 1972). 2 See J. Bondurant, The Conquest of Violence (U. Cal. Press, Berkeley: 1965); Firmage, National Security and the Destruction of Society's Values, in That Awesome Space (E. Hart, ed. 1981).