War has indeed become perpetual and peace no longer even a fleeting wish nor a distant memory. We have become habituated to the rumblings of war and the steady drum beat of propaganda about war’s necessity and the noble motives that inspire it. We will close hospitals. We will close schools. We will close libraries and museums. We will sell off our parklands and water supply. People will sleep on the streets and go hungry. The war machine will go on.
What are we to do? The following text is Part IV of a broader analysis entitled War and the State: Business as Usual.
Link to Part 1
Link to Part 2
Link to Part 3
All the protests, handwringing, indignation and outrage will change nothing. War will go on. As the Chaplain said in “Mother Courage . . . ,” “the war has really nothing to worry about, it can look forward to a prosperous future.” As Randolph Bourne said, “War is the health of the State.”
In practical terms, the current crop of ruling warriors and their accomplices have very little motivation to change direction. For one thing they are rolling in money. Ms. Clinton has made millions from her Wall Street “speaking engagements,” at $250,000 a pop. The Pentagon has so much money they can’t even keep track of it, or so they say. They refuse to allow an audit.
Have you heard of the $43 million natural gas station in Afghanistan that was supposed to cost $500,000? Do you know about the $150 million villas that were built for corporate contractors in Afghanistan so they could spend another $600 million advising Afghans about starting private businesses in that war-torn country?
Or how about purchase of billions of dollars of spare parts because the Army or Air Force didn’t know the whereabouts of existing spare parts in forgotten warehouses here and there? What about the $9 billion the Pentagon admitted could not be accounted for in Iraq during the first several months of the invasion? (Nader)
In a civil society—the State has withered, the government serves civil interests—many of those in power would be behind bars. There is the issue of 911. There is convincing evidence that the government had advance knowledge of these events or actively participated. War crimes are committed on a daily basis. It is probable that the financial dealings of government officials would not withstand juridical scrutiny. Thus, the criminal element in government has much to fear from a civil government, which is why its appearance is highly unlikely.
So where does all of this war making lead? Here are some possibilities.
1) Nuclear Exchange: Nuclear winter. The end of life on planet earth. And that’s that.
2) Armageddon: War of all against all. The two surviving barbarians flail away at each other with their battle-axes and are carried off by the rising waters.
3) Division within the warrior class: One faction kills off another and then assumes power over their dead bodies. Nothing changes. This is what happened in the Roman Empire. Or else the military and the oligarchy duke it out. Not too likely in a State where the two have been in bed together for so long.
4) No more money: The warriors will sell off everything. They will sell drugs to pay their bills. “The multibillion dollar Balkans narcotics trade had played a crucial role in ‘financing the conflict’ in Kosovo . . .” (Chossudovsky, 108) There are allegations that the CIA used drug money to fund the “Contras” in Nicaragua. Currently, Haiti is an occupied country, with U.S. troops in charge. “It is estimated that Haiti is now responsible for 14 percent of all the cocaine entering the United States, representing billions of dollars of revenue for organized crime and U.S. financial institutions, which launder vast amounts of dirty money.” Laundered money can then be used by the CIA to finance armed insurgencies. (Chossudovsky, 133)
The CIA has a long history of quietly playing the stock market, using employee retirement funds, CIA credit-union capital and the like. CIA operatives are suspected of using advanced knowledge of the events of 911 to make a killing. Of course, there is always the aforementioned drug money if there are liquidity problems.
5) Run out of oil: I am reasonably confident that the United States is not waging war for oil so that there will be enough heating oil for me to be warm and cozy in my bed of a cold winter’s eve. It is waging war for oil so it will have oil with which to wage war. The war machine is a perfect servomechanism, a perpetual mobile, a leviathan, ingesting its own tail.
Consuming 4,600,000,000 US gallons of fuel annually, an average of 12,600,000 US gallons of fuel per day, the U.S. Department of Defense is the single-largest consumer of fuel in the world, placing slightly behind Denmark and slightly ahead of Syria. (See Wikipedia) Jet fuel accounts for 71% of that number. The large cargo/transport planes get .07 mpg. That’s about 370 feet, a little more than a football field on a gallon of gas. (Hoy) A fighter jet does a little better at .4 mpg, depending on conditions and speed, though still not up to a mile a gallon.
The U.S. military is an oil consuming monster and of course a huge polluter. Yet, the United States cannot conduct its wars without its cargo planes, bombers and fighter jets, which means that Americans will be riding in horse drawn buggies before the war department gives up the fuel it needs to power its air force.
6) Run out of troops: American ruling warriors learned two things from the war in Vietnam. The first is: No Conscription.  The War Department fields an Army of about 450,000 spread over 170 countries, with a concentration of forces in countries under attack. It is estimated that there are 32,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, and about 5,000 in Iraq. How can the military possibly achieve its goals—even modest ones—with such a limited manpower?
The ruling elite are quite resourceful. There are various stratagems. One of the oldest, most tried and true, is divide and conquer. For instance the U.S. government pitted Iraq against Iran—two countries it wished to control—in an eight-year war (1980–1988). Half a million Iraqi and Iranian soldiers and half a million Iraqi and Iranian civilians were taken out without the U.S. firing a single shot. Clever.
The warrior class knows how to think on its collective feet. In Iraq, they set Shia against Sunni with similar results. They train and arm native terrorists, the Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIS in Syria who then do a lot of killing and maiming on behalf of their unacknowledged employer.
The 21st century has given birth to private contractors who train mercenaries who are then hired out to the American military. In 1997, Erik Prince founded Blackwater. He bought up 7,000 acres of swampland on the border between North Carolina and Virginia and began training guns for hire. In 2010, Blackwater signed a $250,000,000 contract with the CIA. After Blackwater employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians and got some bad PR it changed its name to XE Services, currently known as Academi. In 2014, Academi was bought up by a holding company known as Constellis Group. In other words killing is big business. There is no low season.
Saudi Arabia let prisoners out of jail to fight in Syria. (Chussodovsky, 162) And here is one you probably never would have thought of, “the weaponisation of refugees.” That’s right, it is not a typo (See Gearoid O Colmain) According to Colmain the recent influx of refugees from Syria was an event organized by Americans with an interest in destabilizing Europe, in particular Germany. The Germans were getting too cozy with the Russians to suit American interests. Engineered migration is used a means of putting pressure on governments for political ends.
7) Americans Rise Up: When pigs fly. That’s when Americans will rise up against their government. They would willingly starve to death rather than bring their government to account.
Rising up has its own problems. To rise up is to play by the rules of those who own the power. On their turf and terms they will inevitably carry the day. The best to be hoped for is to replace one set of thugs with another. It is reactive. It does not create anything. It simply destroys.
“But,” you say, “what about Fanny Lou Hamer, Rosa Park, Martin Luther King, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden? These are all people who risked their lives in the struggle for peace and social justice.” Yes, these are remarkable men and women who bring us closer to our humanity by their willingness to serve the common good at any cost. They are an inspiration and a consolation. Yet nothing has really changed. Racism in the North is as bad as it has ever been. War and rapine continue unabated.
What about, “Occupy Wall Street?” There was no rage, no violence, no demands. This was not an uprising. It was a downrising: a peaceful, persistent, eloquent plea for social justice by young men and women of courage and compassion. It had no program. Its purpose was to create a space for a new form of self-governance and political expression. Its purpose was to change our way of thinking, to make us aware of the gross inequalities that characterize our society: the 1 percent vs. the 99%. Their message has become an integral element of our political dialogue. And yet, for obvious reasons, nothing has changed.
Peace is not the answer
Aside from the warriors, just about everyone yearns for peace, a world where human life is cherished, where energies are devoted to serving the common good, where children thrive and are nourished by a caring society. How can anyone argue against that?
In practice—not in theory—peace is simply an interlude between wars. Peace is about stopping war. It is not about eliminating war. “Diplomacy is disguised war,” says Bourne (Bourne, 86) “It is the wheedling and the bargaining of the worn-out bullies as they rise from the ground and slowly restore their strength to begin fighting again.” (Ibid.)
When there is peace it means that one war has ended and the next one hasn’t yet begun. When there is peace in one part of the world—Scandinavia—millions are dying in another—the Middle East. When one country invades another and decimates the native population ending the war, should we call that peace?
If you go to Wikipedia, there are no less than thirteen different “Pax,” all of which were the result of the brutal killing that preceded them.
Pax Romana: It all began with Pax Romana, which started after Octavian, later named Augustus, defeated Marc Antony in the Battle of Actium on 2 September 31 BC. Octavian became princeps, or “first citizen,” euphemism for dictator. He was backed by the greatest military junta available at the time and used his power to suppress civil war. One could argue that all opponents had been beaten down and lost the power to resist. This is what is known as peace through hegemony, or pax imperia.
Pax Romana is alleged to have lasted for 200 years and ended officially with the death of Marcus Aurelius—one of Rome’s more enlightened rulers—in 180 A.D. During this period of “pax”—for a period of four years—Romans lived under the rule of one of Rome’s most notorious tyrants.
Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, known to his friends—he had very few—as Caligula, is alleged to have slept with other men’s wives, had sex with his sisters and prostituted them to other men, killed on whim, at one of the games had his guards throw an entire section of the crowd into the arena to be devoured by animals because there were no criminals to be prosecuted, and, most famously, planned or promised to make his horse, Incitatus, a consul, and actually appointed him a priest. If even only half these stories are true they give a measure of what pax imperia might be like for those who live under its protection. In 41 A.D. Caligula was assassinated by members of his own guard.
Pax Mongolica: After Genghis Kahn and his successors succeeded in terrorizing most of the known world—starting in 1206 and lasting for about one hundred years—and killing as many as 40 million people, destroying civilizations, including livestock, agriculture and dwellings, a period of “peace” prevailed. Trade routes were re-established, a postal system was inaugurated. There was little in the way of killing. This is another example of pax imperia. The system “worked” because the Mongol rulers made it work. They demanded tribute—and got it—from those who could afford to pay. Genghis is credited with establishing “international law.” That is to say he succeeded in setting up a totalitarian dictatorship.
Pax Britannica: The period that begins with the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and ends with the beginning of WWI in 1914 is known as Pax Britannica. With France out of the way, the British could establish themselves as the hegemonic power because there was no country in Europe strong enough to take them on, and so we have “peace.”
At its height Britain held sway over 412 million people, or close to a quarter of the world’s population. During this period of European peace, the British were cannibalizing large parts of Africa and Asia. In mid-nineteenth century, they set up shop in India, reducing a once prosperous people to abject poverty from which they have never recovered. In 1857, Muslims and Hindus joined forces against the British. The British repression was brutal and lasted for years. Hundreds of thousands of lives were extinguished during this period of peace.
Pax Americana: Although it might come as a surprise to some readers, currently we are living through a period known as Pax Americana, probably beginning after the end of WWII. During this period of “peace” the United States has played the role of major hegemonic world power. During this period of “peace” the United States has been engaged in vicious conflict in North Korea and Vietnam, has decimated Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan and is in the process of trying to complete its work in Syria. It has seven hundred military bases—replete with one hundred seventy golf courses—in one hundred seventy countries. And its nuclear warheads on the borders of Russia are targeting key Russian cities. However, “peace” advocates might argue there was no war between the major powers.
What is interesting about “peace” in the modern era are the underlying racist implications. When white peoples are not fighting each other, we call it peace, even though these same white people are mauling peoples of various shades of yellow, brown and black. So that killing people of color does not disturb the peace as white men conceive it. Only when white people shoot at each other is that considered war.
To yearn for peace is to embrace war. What we need is a society where war and peace are not two choices, like night and day. What we need is a society in which war is not an option, where peace becomes irrelevant. Perhaps JFK got it right when he said, what we want is not peace but, “a warless world founded in warless societies.” (Carroll, 285)
Is “a warless world” a real possibility? I believe it is. As we see in Part 5 we begin by taking a step back, seeing the forest—the big picture—and curbing our pattern of reacting without thinking. When we achieve a solid understanding of the fundamentals of power dynamics and rid ourselves of some of our cherished beliefs about the kind of world we live in we will be in a position to open the door to new possibilities. They are closer at hand than we think. The process of change has already begun.
The above essay is part 4 of a six part analysis:
1. War and the health of the State: What causes war
2. Federated governments: The Nation vs. the State
3. Origin of the State: Barbarians at the gate
4. End Game: War goes on
5. Critical Thinking: A bridge to the future
6. Deconstructing the State: Getting small
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1. The second thing warriors learned from the Vietnam War: No honest wartime reporting. During the Vietnam war, one could watch actual battles taking place on ones television while eating dinner. One could see images of a naked girl running down a country road her body aflame with napalm. Such reporting did little to gain support for the war. As a consequence reporters no longer enjoy the liberties they once did. Reporters are now “embedded” with the troops. That is to say they will report what the commanding officer wants them to report. The second prong of this two-pronged approach is assassination. More journalists were killed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq than in any war in history. According to the Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ.org), 111 journalists have been murdered in Iraq since 1992. Chelsea Manning was doing a thirty-five year sentence for revealing a tape that shows a U.S. Army helicopter gunning down two Reuters reporters.
Arthur D. Robbins is the author of Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained: The True Meaning of Democracy, referred to by Ralph Nader as, “An eye-opening, earth-shaking book . . . a fresh, torrential shower of revealing insights and vibrant lessons . . .” and the recently released e-book based on Part II of Paradise Lost entitled, Democracy Denied: The Untold Story. To learn more visit acropolis-newyork.com.
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