Serious Thinking About War
Mon. October 31, 2011
Non religious c.o. – Intro and explanation
What has happened after WW11 fully justifies questioning and rejection of U. S. militarism. The years following WW11 prove the rightness of an anti-war skepticism. The greatest war, that of the 1930s and 40s, has spawned a century of increased militarism and perpetual war. A bloody American empire reaches out from 900 military bases. Eleven enormous aircraft carrier fleets require huge naval squadrons including dozens of every needed support vessel. Professional perpetual armies are held ready for every kind of combat mission, including similar numbers of private contractors often bloodily working for ten times the soldier’s pay, killing for profit.
Two thousand atomic bombs are maintained at the ready to end the world or a great part of it. A complex air industry with roots in every state spills out sophisticated planes to achieve large scale global goals. Unmanned drones controlled from half a world away can kill suspected remote targets and can introduce whole new technologies to replace thousands of massed tanks and troop carriers. Space weapons throw man’s ingenuity into unknown and dangerous dimensions. Truckloads of tightly packed hundred dollar bills become weapons of war to buy and corrupt anonymous tribal leaders. In many other ways a cancerous militarism is bloated by trillions of dollars. Hunger, unemployment, and, in great parts of the world, actual starvation tortures millions; war making wastes resources that could relieve the suffering of these millions, despoiling environments in the process. In a strange mixture of sadness and surging “patriotism,” emotional ceremonies honor “the fallen”, while even pictures of body bags and caskets are kept from public view. In both overt and subtle ways our perceptions and mentalities are shaped to make us accept the insanity that is war. Militarism spawns various offspring: a warrior empire engenders mindsets that enable “patriots” of all kinds—common citizens, business leaders, politicians, church people, academics—to be participants in war systems that are anti-life, anti-reason, and anti-human.
In both primitive and advanced societies a tragic dynamic exists that makes degrees of violence almost inevitable: threat is met with threat, blood with blood, organized war with organized war. In a dangerous and hostile world, limited and cautious use of force may seem to be necessary, but any violence tends quickly to escalate. In a nuclear age with deadly chemical and biological realities, the final catastrophe is that of a powerful nation organized and engaged in perpetual war for the profit of a few. It is wasteful, unsustainable, deadly. And it continually creates hostilities and enemies.
We must understand the meaning of holocaust, that it is mass killing of any group. Human history is filled with bloodlettings, endless, constant, accepted, a form of group madness. Lethal miscarriages of power are exerted by leaders whose fierce posings and tantrums belie an infantile desire to control the world.
In the first world war masses of men, as in the “Guns of August”, slaughtered each other by the millions, led by pompous and stupid generals and politicians, in the folly and carnage of the trenches. Between the two world wars death took only a small holiday as millions died in Poland and the Soviet Union. Then came the second great war, when Stalin and Hitler, by turns, shot, starved, or allowed to freeze to death large populations of Poles, Caucasians, Jews, and others in what a historian, Tom Snyder, has called the Bloodlands. Fourteen million human beings died in these bloodlands and are not counted in war totals. Imagination is stunned, paralyzed before the reality of human beings using their petty power to kill other human beings.
The second world war created 50 million dead, convulsed the entire world, entrenched a lasting militarism, led to the end of older empires and the growth of a monstrous American empire. National boundaries were redrawn, often in ignorance and irrationality. A fuller ghastly reality was the waging of total war, mutilating tens of thousands, and starving, bombing, and incinerating men, women and children, destroying whole cities and nations. Air war was indiscriminate and led to the beginning of an atomic age characterized by insane overproduction of nuclear weapons and a mutual readiness for possible human extinction.
Economic causation underlies much of the militarization. Profits make military growth irresistible and ruinous debt inevitable.
And the whole grotesque set of realities make clear that human nature is too flawed to be entrusted with the power to make war.