Mars Takes The Field: The role warfare has played throughout history in reconciling the irreconcilable and solving the insoluble is beyond dispute. Sometimes, if peace is not in prospect, it pays to give war a chance.
THE RUBBLE in Europe and Asia was still smoking when representatives from 51 nations assembled in the undamaged United States city of San Francisco in June of 1945. Calling themselves the “United Nations”, they there inscribed their collective determination, “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind”.
Surveying the corpse-strewn landscape which separates us from those hopeful signatories of ‘45, you’d have to say that Peace has failed. Over the past 70 years, barely a day has passed without the scourge of war bringing untold sorrow to at least one unfortunate member of the family of nations somewhere in the world.
That the existence of the United Nations has spared us all a third global conflict is less a testimony to the wisdom and forbearance of a chastened humanity, than it is to the certainty that, being waged with nuclear weapons, World War III would’ve had no victors and no survivors.
And yet, in spite of the UN’s consistent failure to save succeeding generations from its effects, War continues to be both rejected and condemned as an instrument for the advancement of national policy. Though member states of the United Nations have regularly unleashed war upon their fellow UN members for precisely that purpose, the pious hopes enshrined in the UN Charter remain the official expression of what is – and is not – acceptable international conduct.
Is humanity well-served by this extraordinary hypocrisy?
Extraordinary Hypocrisy: The United Nations headquarter in New York City.
When a prominent politician from the United States, the nation which, in complete contravention of the UN Charter, launched a full-scale military invasion of Iraq, shamelessly castigates the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, for “violating Ukraine’s national sovereignty”, one struggles to muster any kind of respect for the existing international system.
Indeed, one wonders (heretically) whether the world might not be better off if the number of nation states belonging to the United Nations (currently 193) was significantly reduced. With the benefit of hindsight, isn’t it at least arguable that the much-vaunted principle of “national self-determination”, far from making the world a more peaceful place, has actually increased the incidence of organised violence?
In a similar vein, wouldn’t it be a lot easier to respond to global crises, such as anthropogenic global warming, if humanity was aggregated into larger, rather than smaller, political units? If it’s possible to construct banks and corporations that are “too big to fail”, might it not also be possible to create states that are “too big to lose”?
And where nations are embroiled in bitter conflict, as in the Middle East, shouldn’t it be acknowledged, honestly, by nations outside the region, that war may be the only effective means of re-arranging the pieces on the board?
Even more heretically, should we not ask whether nation states are even the most sensible solution to conflicts whose origins lie not in ethnicity or geography but in matters of religious doctrine?
Certainly, it is the view of James Traub, from the Centre for International Co-Operation, that what we are witnessing in the Middle East is not a “clash of civilisations”, but clashes within a civilisation. The war, argues Traub, is “not between ‘us’ and ‘them’ but inside the Islamic world.”
Would the planet be better or worse off if the outcome of this war inside the Islamic world was the emergence of a political entity roughly akin to the open, tolerant and inclusive Abassid Caliphate that once stretched all the way from Baghdad, in what is now Iraq, to Tunisia? Such an outcome would have less to do with redrawing national boundaries than it would with redefining the way Muslims express their religion.
The rules governing the relationships between nation states, as elaborated by we Europeans, are, in part, the product of our own civilisation’s inability to resolve religious schisms. But, whether the conflicts currently tearing the Islamic world apart can be resolved by the principles enshrined the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War between Catholics and Protestants, is highly debateable.
Beyond dispute, however, is the role warfare has played throughout history in reconciling the irreconcilable and solving the insoluble. Sometimes, if peace is not in prospect, it pays to give war a chance. Alexander the Great didn’t unravel the impossibly complex Gordian Knot with his fingers. He used his sword.
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and the Greymouth Star of Friday, 13 February 2015.
Whatever their heresy, I suspect that we are about to get more nations rather than fewer. But it may well be that these nations are collected together in agglomerations like the EU. These are two forces working on the world as we know it.
This is one of your better posts. God help us if we seriously believed the UN offered any hope for the challenges presently facing mankind, and the Islamic world in particular.
There is a hatred of the ‘other’ so intrinsic to Islam that it may take more than 30 years to burn itself out in the Middle East. We would be foolish in the extreme to think we can shorten this cycle through western military intervention.
For the sake of context, we as ‘the infidel’ in this narrative also qualify as the ‘other’ when it comes to the Islamic world. It is therefore doubtful if the cause of western civilization is advanced through the importation of more Islam into Europe, the UK, Australia or New Zealand.
It is difficult to see how Europe and the UK in particular can avoid participating in the blood bath that is expressed by a resurgent and literalist interpretation of Islam.
The tragedy is that it was all so predictable, and all so avoidable, at least for those of us living in what could once be described as western civilization.
Nations tend to organise themselves into blocks/spheres of influence anyway.
Yeah we could have, say, three states making upt he world - eurasia could be the name of one.
Check it Trotter
Video of possible tactical nuke going off in Ukraine
- unknown who let it go
The dogs of war are being let off their leash
Get those preps in!!!
Ah Brendan, back to the exclusivity of hatred to Muslims trope I see. Aside from the fact that Isis was encouraged by the US – let's leave that for now. But if it was so predictable and avoidable you should really give us your take on how it could have been avoided. In fact you probably should have been advising the American presidents about this. No doubt they didn't listen, which is reasonably typical of them :-).
But how are these hateful Muslims any different from the Westboro Baptist Church who hate the other in the form of homosexuality? Or the kingdom identity ministries, who have a racist interpretation of the Bible and think Jesus was white – whatever that means. All those good Christians in Uganda who have written a law establishing the death penalty for homosexuality, or National Christian News, an extreme anti-Semitic organisation?
The only difference it seems to me is that luckily for us, they are not in charge of a country – yet. Oops – they are. It's just that they're in Africa, and nobody in the West really cares unless it looks like it might spread to us. And of course they haven't bothered anybody outside their borders quite so much, and they're not near any oil, so we haven't declared war on them.
You see Brendan, the capacity for the hatred of the other is intrinsic to religions, not just Islam.
Jamie, I see you are still reading so-called news from that website run by the "biggest conspiracy theorist" in America. You really must read more widely :-). The man is an utter nutjob. The thing about nuclear explosions Jamie is that they are the opposite of covert :-). If there had been one the whole world would know, even the lame stream media would be publishing it.
On "The Other" it seems to be a human phenomenon not just an Islamic one.
"There is a hatred of the ‘other’ so intrinsic to Islam that it may take more than 30 years to burn itself out in the Middle East".
Thanks for putting me right Brendan. Hitherto I had been speculating that the clash had its genesis in what US President Woodrow Wilson called "the whole disgusting scramble" for the Middle East after WWI. I don't know what made me think that occupation, colonial rule, regime change, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the recent destruction of millions of lives in Iraq, Syria and Libya might have turned Muslims against the West. Probably the books I read in my youth - tales of Gertrude Bell striding through the area unmolested befriending Sheiks and National leaders and other such travelogues depicting the hospitality and picturesque customs. My female cousin sleeping unprotected outdoors in the Afghanistan of the fifties also.
I guess they were just not aware of the hatred "intrinsic to Islam" and were damn lucky in avoiding the ghastly consequences. The books and memoirs (not to mention much of the History) must have been romantic fiction.
My greengrocer doesn't seem to be affected however. Should I avoid him?
Alex Jones eh?
This Alex Jones! "Alex Emerick Jones (born February 11, 1974) is a far right radio personality who never met a conspiracy theory he didn't like. He is one of the very few people to make Glenn Beck look sane and rational in comparison. That is all you really need to know about him.
Jones has no discernible political stance aside from all-consuming paranoid rage. He claims that the Illuminati control the world. He claims that "the elite" conspirators who he says control the world "believe they're contacting inter-dimensional aliens" through use of the drug DMT, and "believe that they are being directed by them." Jones says that the entities that the world-ruling conspirators worship are called "clockwork elves" and that their ultimate goal is to be granted "eternal life" after they "kill everybody".
His radio program is typified by frequent use of the Imperial March from Star Wars while he rants about the impending roundup and execution of Americans by the New World Order (NWO) in the next week or two. He has been predicting this every day since at least 1995. We're still waiting. Any time a "major event" of any kind happens in the media, the first words from Jones on his radio show are always, "This whole situation stinks!" and he then immediately begins rounding up clues and evidence of the 'Massive Coverup' currently taking place in the current situation … whatever the situation is.
To no one's surprise, he is also a fundamentalist Christian, but rarely preaches on his radio show.
His hatred of nerds and invention of the international nerd conspiracy myth probably means the RationalWiki community constitutes his mortal enemies. Life is good."
He's a nutter who sees conspiracies under every rock and stone. And when he can't find one -- well, that a conspiracy too.
Rationalwiki is a good source for info on all kinds of outlandish nutters. Always check out your sources!!
With a new keyboard.
Post a Comment