Arlington National Cemetary. Is War Inevitable?

Is War Inevitable?

If we as humanity are to carve a path away from the illogical concept of war, we must start treating wars with similar attitude as towards slavery and human sacrifice: disgust and contempt.

[dhr]

Arlington National Cemetary. Is War Inevitable?

[dhr]

Wars and conflict have been a part of our human history almost since the beginning of time. We as a civilization have grown up learning in schools about the vast number of great wars from the Medieval Ages all the way to the modern days. War and conflict have been engrained so much into our way of life that we almost instinctively assume that disputes between nations which end up in a bloody conflict is almost normality. Perhaps this is why the majority of citizens do not do enough to protest against wars. Let’s take the United Kingdom for example. Undoubtedly thousands, if not millions, of Brits were angered by the British government’s involvement in recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Yet this anger does not truly transform into mass action against conflict. While much of society is displeased with Britain’s warmongering over the years, many simply assume that war is just a way of life.

If thought through in detail war is perhaps the most illogical creation of mankind. Some might argue war is natural, because we humans are animals, and animals often fight and kill each other. This is a valid point; however it does not take into account that humans are the only species on our planet that can use their tongues not just to make noises, but to communicate with language, leading to a beautiful possibility of diplomacy. Others may argue that despite diplomacy, some disputes cannot be solved without the use of violence to measure who is the strongest and thus who makes the rules. While history may back this point up, once again it does not take into account that there are some pockets of society who have never utilised war to resolve a dispute. Buddhists, Kibbutzim in Israel, and even Iceland have never been involved in international wars. A skeptic may argue that such small minorities do not represent the overall picture, but the vital point here is the fact that humans are capable of going through lifetimes without conflicts. Some people argue that guns are to blame for wars, thus as long as nations have some sort of military equipment, war is inevitable. Yet there are a number of nations without armed forces like Andorra, Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Grenada and others who seem to survive well without militarisation. Perhaps the strongest arguments against the idea that war is natural and inevitable is the fact that at some point during our human history, slavery, the caste system, inferiority of women, dictatorship, human sacrifices were also considered natural and inevitable. Ultimately simply because something seems normal and inevitable now does not necessarily mean it is right to follow through with it.

To put the above theory into practice, one has to ask themselves whether the recent wars in the Middle East and possible future conflicts with Syria and Iran are also inevitable. The Western governments claim that diplomacy will not work with the “barbaric” and “ruthless” terrorists that operate in the Middle East. Yet the fact that the amount of terrorist attacks in the region have increased and that levels of insecurity are higher than ever should demonstrate that the invasions and occupations are also not the answer. Currently Iraq is a crippling disaster with car bombs explosions happening practically every day. The USA has given up on Afghanistan due to rising deaths (2000 deaths for the American troops and countless civilian deaths for the Afghan population). The supply of arms to the rebels in Syria has increased the death total dramatically and the invasion of Iran will lead to catastrophic consequences in the whole region. Perhaps the best option to take is to leave the Middle Eastern region alone. Undoubtedly there are a number of vital problems that need addressing in the region, but the Arab populations are more than capable to solve these themselves. After all, the most peaceful transition of the Arab Spring happened in a county where the West played a minor role (Tunisia).

Evidently conflict and violence will grip the Middle East for some years to come due to instability and recent drastic change. Nevertheless, Western nations frequently claim that they are the creators of peace and diplomacy. Perhaps instead of encouraging violence, the West should live up to its claims and encourage dialogue between different factions in the Middle East. After all, Europe went through the most horrific period of wars and if we have learned anything from that period, it is to not let it happen again somewhere else. Some theorists claim that democracies never go to war with each other. That may be true, but unfortunately over the years democracies have played a crucial role in adding fuel to wars elsewhere. If we as humanity are to carve a path away from the illogical concept of war, we must start treating wars with similar attitude as towards slavery and human sacrifice: disgust and contempt.

[hr]

Photo credit: James Sheehan / theriskyshift.com

17 thoughts on “Is War Inevitable?”

  1. Oh come on Alex you’re better than this, deliberately ignoring significant and long-term attempts by the west to encourage multilateralism and dialogue for the sake of demonising their attempts to reduce violence in the Middle East. Even Iraq is not nearly as clear cut as you make it look and there is noticeably no mention of Libya where western intervention may have saved up to half a million lives. This could not be more deliberately one-sided.

    1. Not to mention your list of nations without militaries includes tiny nations you careful avoid mentioning that for most of them their security is guaranteed by other states with militaries. You declare massacres of conflicts such as those in Syria ‘inevitable’ and make a choice pick of the most liberal Arab state (Tunisia) to try and make an example that the Arab world can ‘sort itself out’. You declare disgust for war yet ignore the fact that Afghanistan was at war long before 2001, and turn a blind eye to the massacres of the Kurds in northern Iraq or the possible fate which awaited Benghazi in 2011. You call war disgusting, I call that level of lack of sympathy immoral.

    2. Peter Kelly Let me share my response point by point. In terms of the attempts by the West to create some dialogue, perhaps that is the case, but overall the West has done more harm than good by meddling in the Middle East, especially since 1945 and the creation of Israel by the British empire which ultimately has resulted in much violence hatred towards the USA and the West from the Arabs. In terms of Libya, I was always against an intervention and still think it was the wrong thing to do (recent events regarding the USA embassy may just back up my point as a murder of an American diplomat would have never happened under Gaddafi.) Dont get me wrong, I believe in most cases a democracy is better than an authoritarian leader like Qaddafi was, but only if such democracy is created by the population itself, rather than intervention from outside. In my opinion Qaddafi was still quite popular before the West armed the rebels and made them look like a big force. Yes Afghanistan was at war before 2001, this time with Russia and before that the Soviet Union, once again another intervention, another countless lives lost, another pointless war.I am in no way naive to claim that life would be perfect were the nations to stop intervening in the Middle East. However Western Europe became peaceful among each other by themselves after a bloody World War. Perhaps that’s what the Middle East needs, a bloody conflict among each other before they finally arrive at peace. You may say that comments contradicts everything I have said in the article, i,e that war is illogical  Yes I still stand by my claim that war is illogical, but that does not mean people will still not go to war and use violence. Gambling is illogical as the casino always wins, yet people still do it. Humans are not logical creatures even if we think we are, that is the problem.Ultimately, my main points are: 1. leave the Middle East to itself, unless dialogue and diplomacy are being put forward, 2. War is illogical, but people will still use it, but not forever as I believe humans are still maturing and one day eternal peace will be upon our civilization. 

      1.  AlexanderClackson 1945 is over half a century ago, I’m talking about recent, 21st century actions. The Britain and west of 1945 is not even recognisable to that of today. In term of Libya I have no idea how anyone could support the massacre which would have followed a lack of intervention. Both Gaddafi, his top commanders and his family made very clear that all those who rose against him would be slaughtered the moment he overran the rebels of the East. Western intervention may well have saved up to half a million lives. The response to the US embassy attack is much more important than the attack itself, with militias laying down their arms across the country and Jihadist groups being driven out of towns. Afghanistan was at war before 2001, but not with Russia, it was a war between the Pakistan-backed Taliban and Iranian-backed Northern Alliance. Russia hasn’t been involved for decades. There is nothing pointless about trying to bring security and stability to a region, so much so that EVERY world power backed the Afghanistan war. I think everything I have said, and the one thing which will define both yourself and this debate is that you have just wished a world war-style conflict, and tens of millions of deaths, upon the Middle East just to satisfy your irrational opposition to all things to do with Western militaries.

        1.  Peter Kelly AlexanderClackson There have been many conflicting debates on Libya with one side claiming Western intervention was good, the other side claiming it was bad. It is obvious we will never agree upon this point so let’s leave it aside. And yet is there stability in Afghanistan right now? I think it is fair to say the answer is no, therefore all these years of intervention have brought no security in Afghanistan  Perhaps it is time to stop intervening there?And let me be clear that I did not WISH a world war on the Middle East. I merely suggested that perhaps just like the West had to go through a bloody war to come to an eternal peace in Europe, maybe the Middle East needs to go through that too. It is simply a thought rather than a wish. Sometimes a storm must pass before we see the sun again.Ultimately if you believe that the West was able to arrive at peace by itself yet the Middle East can’t, then somewhere in your argument you believe that Arabs as a whole are inferior to the Europeans and thus require babysitting by the Western nations. 

        2. AlexanderClackson Just because an action may not be successful has no impact at all upon the justifications for it. Any action may have the best intentions and yet result in the worst consequences, the consequences can have no rational impact on the intentions. Now the intervention in Afghanistan has taken place it would be murder on a grand scale to abandon it to chaos, something you yourself claim is illogical. No one is saying Arabs are inferior, we are saying because the West has already gone through chaos to achieve stability it is in the position to make sure the Middle East does not have to suffer as it did. What you are doing is exactly wilfully wishing war upon the Middle East. You are promoting the West abandoning it to its fate to back an idea that all things must happen as they have happened in the past. So the rest of us think we can avoid brutal violence in progress, forgive us that wish for peace and stop being so hypocritical as to say we must see war with disgust and yet we must let it happen.

        3. Peter Kelly AlexanderClackson I think what our disagreement comes down to is the fact that I do not believe Western intervention is done because of genuine desire by the Western powers to help out the Arabs and create a free society while while I am assuming that you do. In my opinion every intervention that has happened has been due to Western interests (Iraq- regime change because Hussein wanted to trade oil in gold rather than US dollars/oil reserves. Syria- to get to Iran. Iran- because the Israel lobby is extremely powerful in the USA. Libya- again because Qaddafi  wanted to stop trading oil in US dollars which would have seriously hurt the USA economy). To claim that Western interventions are done to create stability and help the natives is either really naive or genuine neo-conservative nonsense. Western politicians used to hug and kiss Saddam Hussein when he  had a conflict with Iran and they were selling him weapons when he invaded Kuwait. Tony Blair used to invite Qaddafi round his house as a guest of honor in 2000s. Point is, these dictators were best friends with the West before these dictators decided to free themselves from the economic shackles of the West. If USA genuinely cares about democracy then why are they showing such increased support for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. It’s complete hypocracy, Western powers use responsibility to [email protected] to further their own interests and for this reason I will continua arguing for them to leave the Middle East alone. 
          And I am 100% certain there are thousands if not millions who share my view. You talk of ‘the rest of us’, as if it’s my view against the world. You will find that more and more your view is becoming obsolete as people are waking up to the cruel reality of how politics really work.  And not that it shows the whole picture but the fact that this article has been liked 74 times which I believe is very high for this blog gives an indication that my view just might be in the majority.

        4. AlexanderClackson Iraq – The west could easily have made a better oil deal with Saddam, the idea that the war was just about oil is a silly one, even if all had gone to plan it cost hundreds of times more what a slightly less favourable deal would have cost, it’s not like the west hadn’t worked with Saddam before.Syria – What western intervention?Iran – The Israel lobby isn’t THAT powerful, and the US also wouldn’t go it alone. The Israel lobby doesn’t even exist amongst US allies.Libya – The intervention was based on reclaiming western moral supremacy by showing they would intervene to protect civilians without occupation. It worked, the Libyan intervention is an unparalleled military PR victory for France and Britain amongst their publics after years of criticism of other Middle Eastern conflicts.You’re making up the importance of dealing in US dollars, there is no way it would ‘seriously hurt’ the US economy, few things are capable of that and changing currency dealings isn’t one of them.I never said stability was about helping the ‘natives’. Quite the opposite, helping the domestic population is done almost entirely for the need for stability.Why do you think that western powers acting in their own interest is absolutely bipolar to the interests of the Arab world? Stability is in everyone’s interests in one way or another. Yes they may sometime clash but they are not dramatically opposite positions to take.74 isn’t very high, and certainly has no impact on the political world as a whole. You have no idea who those 74 people are or who they represent  nor do I. It is not my view which is becoming obsolete, it is yours. With Iraq over and Afghanistan coming to a close, the success in Libya has made stirrings for further intervention in places like Syria and the Congo stronger, not less so.

        5. Peter Kelly AlexanderClackson Iraq wasn’t just about oil no, it was about regime change as Iraq was becoming too powerful in the region and USA and Israel did not like that. Syria- are you not aware of the weapons and financial support that the West has been sending to the rebels in Syria. It’s a well known fact, even William Hague has admitted Britain is fully supporting the rebels  Now while that’s not a physical intervention, it is certainly intervening in the affairs of Syria which is of course preventing Syrians from determining their own destiny as once again the West has their own agenda when it comes to Syria as it is a stepping stone towards getting rid of the regime in Iran. regarding the Israel lobby, you ought to read the book by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt called The Israel Lobby and it might open your eyes to just how powerful the lobby actually is. I think you have been reading too much neo-conservative US backed media propaganda to claim that Libya was a success. I have family in Tunisia who still say that Libyans are crossing the border because they cant live in a country which has no proper government and where those rebels who got rid of Qaddafi are still armed and bossing the civilians around and committing crimes. And if you consider around 20,000 killed in Libya thanks to the West (a number which is quoted by the BBC News) a success then I fear what you might consider a failure. And before you come back with the claim that Qaddafi would have murdered half a million people, that’s absolute nonsense as he only would have probably killed the rebels which were in their low thousands, way less than 20,000 for sure. Of course the neo-conservative propaganda would say differently. Seeing as the USA economy is already crumbling, I put to you that changing the currency of oil trade would SERIOUSLY damage the economy of the USA as oil import/export is a vital factor in a nation’s economy.  The West has created no stability in the Middle East. Car bombs go off in Iraq practically everyday, Libya is a mess, but most importantly THE ARABS HATE THE WEST. Do you honestly think that if what the West was doing was so moral, the Arabs would show so much disgust towards the West? The fact that Arabs despise Western intervention should tell you that we should listen to them and stop intervening  It is only the USA backed puppets who call for intervention, the ordinary Arab citizens want to determine their own future. Afghanistan is a failure, Iraq is a failure and anybody who hasn’t got a painting of Donald Rumsfeld on their wall knows that. There were 2 million people protesting the invasion of Iraq in 2003. If Britain decided to invade Iran I can assure you there will be more. Thanks to the technological advances and social media and alternative media, people are waking up to the reality of what is going on and they are not prepared to be conned again into creating another pointless war which will cost billions while Britain cuts its welfare budget. The majority have woken up, I suggest you do too as sooner if not already your view will be in the minority supported only by the mad warmongering neo-conservatives. Perhaps one day you ought to fly over to Baghdad or Tripoli and see for your own eyes what sort of success story the West has created there. You may want to get a return flight as I doubt you will want to stay there after you witness the reality on the ground rather than what the Rupert Murdoch media tells you.

        6. AlexanderClackson I will get around to a proper response to this insanely long comment eventually. But for now: Don’t make stupid presumptions, it’s below you. I don’t make any of you, so don’t make any of me. I am not neo-conservative, in fact I can’t stand neo-conservative media and most consider me centrist if not liberal. I don’t even know who Donald Rumsfeld is past having heard the name. And whilst you’re about stopping making presumptions of me which make you look ridiculous, stop assuming facts you know nothing about. Like generalisations or downright lies such as the US economy crumbling, the importance of the dollar in oil economy, the state of Libya, the opinion of all Arabs, who the ‘majority’ are and the involvement of the west in Syria. Whilst you’re presuming I’m a fox-news ideologue the mirror for yourself would be to suggest you stop listening to RussiaToday and other laughably ignorant conspiracy sites. When I have the time I’ll come back and deal with those points of yours which are actually based on something other than rumour and ‘alternative’ nonsense.

  2. “Perhaps the strongest arguments against the idea that war is natural and inevitable is the fact that at some point during our human history, slavery, the caste system, inferiority of women, dictatorship, human sacrifices were also considered natural and inevitable. Ultimately simply because something seems normal and inevitable now does not necessarily mean it is right to follow through with it.”This is a good point and certainly has some merit. However, I think it completely misses a much more important point and in so doing undermines the whole argument. The point is not so much that war is perceived to be ‘natural’ and ‘inevitable’, instead the reality is that throughout human history war has been an instrument through which people or States have sought to advance their interests.That, surely, is the crux of the matter. I simply don’t see how you can argue that war is an “illogical creation of mankind”. That makes it sound like an aberration and, if that were true, then why has warfare been such a constant of human history?Far from being an illogical creation, I would argue that history shows that people assess a given situation and judge that war is the most necessary or most beneficial means to advance their own interests – and this is just as true of good and evil men alike.Until we accept that reality, we will not put an end to war. Until we can create better and more effective means of reaching mutually beneficial outcomes between two parties in conflict with each other, we will not put an end to war. Taking the moral high ground – i.e. treating war with subjective concepts like disgust and contempt – will get us nowhere.

    1. Ciaran Carey Perhaps illogical is a subjective concept. To me an illogical action means an action which leads to undesired consequences. Now since war is ultimately murder when  you strip away all the political flesh that tightens around the concept of war, then one has to ask themselves is murder logical? In my opinion, the answer is no and thus if murder is illogical (as it leads to undesired consequences, i.e. death) then war is also illogical as war is simply mass murder on a mass scale. I would agree with you that man has used was as a means to advance their interests, but that does not mean that war is still not illogical. Many nations and businesses dump waste in oceans and dump toxic gas into the atmosphere to advance their interests, yet taking part in these actions is still not logical as eventually these actions lead to undesirable consequences, i.e climate change and destruction of our natural world. As I have mentioned in one of the other comments, man is not a logical creature even though we think we are. We make a lot of irrational decisions therefore I believe just because man may assess a situation and decide that war is beneficial does not necessarily equate to war being a normality at any situation. 

      1. AlexanderClackson Alex the level of simplicity and lack of analysis in your assumptions about morality make your argument philosophically unsound. You cannot simply proclaim murder as illogical for the sake of argument or proclaim a certain definition of what is illogical long after you made your main argument that a certain concept is illogical.

  3. Is diplomacy always ‘beautiful’? It can be, but just as often it flourishes in situations where no beautiful solution is possible – either a hideous war, or a hideous diplomatic resolution. Sometimes doing nothing is considerably uglier than intervening

    An obvious example might be the Munich Agreement (off the top of my head), but I think I’d also find characterising the containment of Iraq after 1991 as ‘beautiful’ somewhat hard to swallow.

  4. Great article Alex! It’s unfortunate that wars are still happening and the West has quite a lot in stirring up wars and tensions in other countries. Also, they support whomever they think would serve their interests only – without caring if the selected government would be oppressive or not.

Leave a Reply