Our 5,000 year history of state wars began in Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq, under the tyrant Gilgamesh of Uruk. Since that time the purpose of war has always been to capture plunder for the ruling class. It was never to improve the country, or to improve the lives of plain people (the 99%, as it were), who are usually regarded with contempt by the rulers.
The Industrial Revolution ended the primary reason for war, the acquisition of spoils by conquest. This is because the immense cost of war in the industrial age is far greater than any riches that could be obtained by plunder. Quite the contrary. By the end of WWII 60-million people had died, there was little left of Europe, Japan was destroyed, the US debt was at a high that has never been equalled, and we spent decades helping the world to recover and rebuild. Every war in the modern era has left the warring states worse off. One of the primary reasons for the EU was to make the states economically interdependent, and bring this endless war to a halt. But the word that war is obsolete still hasn’t reached everyone.
The Industrial Revolution
ended the primary reason for war.
Free trading has replaced war as the best way to gain wealth. It not only involves no destruction, it results in economic gains by both sides—if it is truly free. Trading with other countries brings new wealth into a country in the form of products that are unavailable, or superior to native products. The same is true for both trading partners.
But what happens to the countries that basically have no desirable products to trade? Some of them, primarily in Africa, have natural resources such as oil, minerals, or jewels. Unfortunately, the income from these commonly goes into the pockets of corrupt politicians and generals, and almost none reaches the people. This is largely the legacy of the colonial era. Obviously, this is not just less desirable, it is something that should be avoided at all costs. But extraction of natural resources is under the control of corporations, out of the reach of governments, and so it is done to profit the rich.
Extraction of natural resources
is under the control of corporations.
Religion, however, remains as a cause of war. The motives for religious war are quite different from economic and political wars. There were such wars as the Crusades, with the arrogant goal of forcing an unwanted religion on the heathen. In more recent centuries it seems to me that religious wars are often a reaction to capitalist wrongs from the US and other Western nations. Ironically, the motives of capitalism are the same as the motives of all the warmongers of history: to gain wealth for the ruling class.
It seems to me that the warring nations of the Mideast and elsewhere have either destroyed their ability to trade, never had it, or have failed to bring themselves into the modern era because of belief in the superiority of culture under the Caliphate or some other spurious ideal. This latter notion is easy to dismiss by simply recalling that Caliphate life was great only if you were a certain class of citizen—the rulers, of course—which included neither women, slaves, or others deemed to be inferior. The Caliphate too was for the benefit of the rich and privileged. As for modern “idealist” groups like ISIL and Boko Harum, they are incompetents who seek genocide of “inferiors”, know nothing about running a country, and contribute nothing worthwhile to civilization.
Caliphate life was great
only if you were a ruler.
ISIL and Boko Harum
seek genocide of “inferiors”.
One is hard pressed to name significant manufactured exports from Afghanistan, Iraq, and many of the other countries where Islam rules. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and others have oil, and Egypt has cotton and foods, but many have no manufactures of importance that can compete with those of Asia or Europe. That being the case, they may be doomed to remain poor, or they may be doomed to fight their neighbors, maybe both.
We probably can’t do much to help them modernize. Where we might make inroads would be in controlling the excesses of capitalism at home. Unfortunately, we are under continuous pressure from one political party and capitalists themselves to “release the magic of the marketplace” by eliminating all regulation and control. Our history tells us clearly that this is exactly what we should not be doing, because it benefits the rich and no one else.
Deregulation benefits the rich
and no one else.
Another thing we should not be doing is waging perpetual war with small, secret actions. Yet that is exactly what we are now set up to do, and neither of the last two presidents has shown any interest in putting us on a different path.
The perpetual war on terror we have committed ourselves to is supposedly to promote democracy, in the end. But when we look at the places we “promote democracy”, they are all countries with significant natural resources. George W. Bush took us out of resource-poor Afghanistan, even though the military goal had not been reached, in order to invade resource-rich Iraq on bogus pretenses. A decade-plus later we have lost trillions of dollars and gained virtually nothing other than the enmity of much of the world.
Our incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq are prime examples of why war is obsolete.