THE ROOTS OF WAR

© Andy Turnbull, 2006

July 24, 2006
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To understand the cold war, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said, you have to realize that the "proponents of military expenditures in both the Soviet Union and the United States are united against the civilians of both countries."[1] To understand today's world, and the era of human misery that future historians will call "the Bush wars," you have to realize that while the players have changed, the game is still the same.

Before the breakup of the Soviet Union the cold war gave the Military Industrial Complexes (MIC's) of the USSR and the U.S.A -- and, to a lesser extent, of other countries -- almost unlimited access to the national wealth of their respective countries. No matter what the cost, most people thought, they could not allow a prospective enemy to gain an advantage of more, or more-advanced, weapons.

Russia can no longer afford to play but the American MIC does not want to give up such a profitable arrangement. It is now allied with Al Qaeda, China, Iran and North Korea -- and probably before long other countries -- in the same game. Al Qaeda in particular has justified not only the spending of billions of dollars but also new "security measures" that have destroyed some of the freedoms that Americans thought were guaranteed, and has started the U.S. on a course of action that will make even more enemies around the world.

This is not a new development because the American MIC has a long history of making would-be friends into enemies. After WWII Vietnam adopted the American Constitution as its own and invited General MacArthur to a declaration of independence, but MacArthur declined. When France set out to re-impose colonial rule Vietnam begged Washington for aid and support but the U.S. -- which seems to favor colonial power over independence -- chose to provide the arms that France used to invade its former colony. With no other help available Vietnam turned to Russia and later China. That made it an enemy of the U.S. but an ally of the American MIC, which made billions of dollars out of the war.

When Castro took power in Cuba his first move was to fly to Washington, to ask for friendship and aid. After President Eisenhower refused to meet him, Castro flew on to Russia where he found aid and became another ally of the American MIC and enemy of the American people. It's ironic that Eisenhower -- who warned the U.S. of the danger of the MIC in his farewell address[2] -- should have played the MIC's cards in his relationship with Castro, but not surprising. It's no secret that Ike was Coca Cola's candidate for president and, as one of the biggest consumers of sugar in the world, Coca Cola had an obvious interest in the government that controlled Cuba's sugar plantations. Like most Americans they had no objection to a corrupt dictator, but they did not want an idealist who might protect Cuban interests.

Even Saddam Hussein was friendly to the United States when he invaded Iran during the hostage crisis, but Hussein was a special case. Iraq was the only modern Arab country in the middle east, the only one in which women had rights and could be educated, and the only one not dominated by Muslim fundamentalists.

I do not suggest the Hussein was a democrat, any more than any other middle east ruler. I do suggest that Iraq was the only secular Arab country, and probably no worse than the average middle east dictatorship.

But Iraq was building a huge cannon that could have fired shells -- possibly small nuclear weapons -- at Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. The gun could not swing far enough to point at Israel but many people think it was the Mossad that murdered John Bull -- the Canadian who designed and was building it.

As a threat to the Saudi Royal family Saddam had to go and, one way or another, the Saudi's enlisted the United States in their cause.

Then came 9/11 -- an operation manned by Saudi's and Egyptians and financed at least partly by members of the Saudi royal family. It was a wonderful opportunity for the U.S. MIC to make more enemies.

I have no sympathy for the Taliban but it was the government of Afghanistan, installed by force of arms supplied by the United States. I have no doubt that Al Qaeda had training camps in Afghanistan (it probably has some in the States by now) but if the U.S. wanted to take those camps out it could have done it with commando raids. Instead it chose to bomb and attack Afghanistan itself, making former allies into deadly enemies.

The MIC pretends that the United States invaded Iraq to eliminate "weapons of mass destruction" but we all know that if Iraq had a big army and nuclear weapons and North Korea had lots of oil, American forces would have been sent to North Korea.

The invasion of Iraq went wrong because of some mis-calculations. The odds looked good -- a well-armed nation of 300 million people against a virtually-unarmed nation of less than 20 million -- but the Americans misjudged Iraq's national character.

For some reason they thought the Iraqi people would welcome the destruction of most of their power plants, waterworks and other infrastructure, the killing and maiming of thousands of people, the poisoning of the land with depleted-uranium munitions and the imprisonment and torture of thousands of men on the off-chance that they might be enemies.

But they were wrong. Like the French, Norwegians, Serbs, Vietnamese and other peoples who were invaded and in occupied in WWII some Iraqis have formed a resistance and, like resistance fighters everywhere, they target collaborators as well as the enemy. That makes sense when you consider that collaborators are generally hated more than invaders and that invaders will punish the killing of their own people, but they usually don't care how many collaborators die.

But the cost to Iraq is high. According to the UN nearly 15,000 Iraqis were killed in the first half of this year. Iraq's population is about 1/15th that of the United States, so for Americans to understand the cost of the conquest to Iraq they would have to imagine nearly 225,000 deaths in six months in the United States. Add to that, of course, the destruction of the infrastructure and occupation by foreign army of soldiers who occasionally torture, loot, and rape.

Americans call the Iraqi resistance an "insurrection," but that's double-talk. No doubt the Nazis who installed Quisling as the ruler of Norway would have described the Norwegian resistance as an insurrection.

The conquest of Iraq has made millions of life-long deadly enemies who want nothing more than to kill Americans, but the American MIC has gained more allies to help it to prey on the American people.

Now the Israeli MIC -- a long-time ally of the American MIC -- is cementing its alliance with Hamas and Hezbollah.

This alliance is vital to all three parties. Without Hamas and Hezbollah the Israeli MIC -- and it's claim for support by the American MIC -- would be much less powerful. Without the efforts of the Israeli MIC both Hamas and Hezbollah would lose a lot of their power.

If Israel really wanted to disarm Hamas the way is obvious -- first the Israelis must stop making Palestinians hate them. We know that Israeli's built 'settlements' on occupied Palestinian land, that some of them shot at and sometimes killed Palestinian children who strayed too close to the stolen land and that the Israeli army used armored bulldozers to destroy Palestinian villages.

Memo to Israel -- this is not a good way to make friends. It is a good way to reinforce the hatred of people who, most of them, have never in their lives had any reason to feel anything but resentment and hatred for Israel. If some of them express that hatred by volunteering as suicide bombers, that's a bonus for the Israeli MIC.

We are told that Israeli forces attack only known 'terrorists' but they have killed far more civilians than soldiers and they have bombed civilian airports, power plants, water works and the Lebanese army. They have also killed some Hezbollah soldiers but, in general, the Israeli attacks have been more benefit than harm to Hezbollah.

Stephen Harper's fine sense of justice tells us that the Israeli attack on Lebanon is justified, and that it is "measured" retaliation for the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. Harper is supposed to be Prime Minister of Canada but, in many ways, he acts more like George Bush's lap dog and an agent of the American MIC.

By Harper's warped standard, how should Lebanon retaliate for the killing of hundreds of civilians and the destruction of a nation's infrastructure? How should Canada retaliate for the killing of nine (so far) Canadian citizens? How should the United Nations retaliate for the deliberate bombing of at UN observer's outpost, and the killing of four UN observers?

Harper might argue that the kidnapping of the soldiers was planned and that the killing of a few hundred civilians was accidental -- but consider. The kidnapping was carried out by a small unit and, for all we know, it might have been the work of over-enthusiastic juniors -- as, for example, the U.S. pretends the torture at Abu Greib was. There is no question that the bombing of houses that have no apparent connection with Hezbollah was planned and carried out under the supervision of senior officers of the Israeli military.

If the Israeli MIC really wanted to get rid of Hezbollah it could have helped the Lebanese government take control of southern Lebanon. If it wanted to do the job itself it could have targeted Hezbollah headquarters and key installations with commando raids. If it wanted to gain the hatred of all Lebanese -- Christians and Arabs alike -- of all Arabs and all Muslims; and the contempt of others around the world, it did exactly right with bombing attacks across the whole country.

Back to Kissinger's comment. We have to understand that war is a very profitable business for some and a source of power for others. Many of these people may not recognize their addiction to war but, whether they recognize it or not it exists and it is a danger to us all.

Unfortunately, war is good for business and usually no danger to the people who start it. Innocent people may be killed but, as we all know, innocent people don't matter much to the people who profit from war.

Welcome to the future. As long as the MIC rules the United States, and the States is the strongest military power in the world, we can expect more of the same.

end

NOTES

[1] Quoted by Economist John Kenneth Galbraith in Almost Everyone's Guide to Economics, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1978, pg 145.

[2] The speech is available on the internet, in the Eisenhower archives

NB: The MIC is an example of what I call a metasystem. For a complete explanation -- and a warning of the problems metasystems can create, read my book The System on this website.

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