Sunday, August 2, 2015

War as Continuation of Politics: For Whose Benefit?

The Soviets were great writers on military affairs.  The United States Air Force translated a number of Soviet military works under the series Soviet Military Thought. 

One interesting volume is ‘The Philosophical Heritage of V. I. Lenin and Problems of Contemporary War’ (Moscow, 1972). 
The authors expand Clausewitz’s dictum that ‘war is the continuation of politics by other means’:  Precisely because all wars are, and each given war is, a continuation of politics, they are essentially not only identical but are also profoundly disparate from one another, and frequently complete opposites.  This occurs because the political content of war is determined by the social character of the classes waging it, their political goals and a number of other concretely historical conditions. (p. 25).

[COMMENT]  This is important because particularly in the US, the classes who direct the wars do not fight them directly – volunteer soldiers – no direct impact upon classes who direct and benefit from the country being at war.  Could a disconnect emerge between policy makers and those who fight our wars?  As most Americans do not / have not served in the armed forces, is the civil-military disconnect deeper within American society?  Soldiers are “Heroes” – paid in kudos and acclaim to keep military happy.  Now with decreasing benefits, will military remain subservient? 

[COMMENT]  For example, the problem with the Syrian civil war is the socio-economic and political conditions of the initial stages of the war, that is, the opponents of President Assad versus government forces was changed essentially by the advent of ISIS Daesh, transforming it from a just war against an oppressive government to Assad’s just war against a worse and more unjust threat.  The justice of the cause is from the point of view of the eye of the beholder.  The Syrian civil was whose character was that of a just war, became an unjust war because ISIS is worse threat.  The US and its ‘allies’ [joke] have fought or opposed Assad and Iran.  This is a fact.  But where, when, and who denied utilization of Assad and Iran by US in order to demoralize / destroy the common enemy, ISIS (Daesh)?
Militarism.  As a weapon serving the ruling classes to crush all (political and economic) movements.  (p. 65).  [COMMENT]  Why do we fight these wars?  Follow the money, i.e., whose interests are being advanced?  Who benefits from these wars?  Certainly not the US or the US taxpayers?  So far (2015) the ‘war on terror’ has cost 5K deaths / $2T and we’re still there.  How can our political leaders continue to advocate and pursue ill-defined, ambiguous goals and unwinnable wars?  Are we just mercenaries or cannon fodder for sinister interests that are manipulating us?  Our national security and interests are not threatened so why are we involved in conflicts in the Middle East and Central Asia?  What are we doing there? 
Are we really military adventurists the Soviets accused us of being?  These are basic questions but seem apropos to our actions post-Soviet Union—or even before.  We invaded Grenada in 1983, Lebanon 1983, Panama 1988; Gulf War 1990-91; Haiti, 1994; Somalia 1992; Bosnia 1994-95; Afghanistan 2001; Iraq 2003; Lybia 2011; Syria 2014.  What are we doing?  Is our economic system, capitalism, the cause of war?  Is war a method of resolving antagonistic conflicts based on “private ownership relations?”  (E.g., p. 72).  Are wars for the profit of the 1% at the expense of the rest of us?  Is war class based in the United States—for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many?  Are our interventions another form of exploitation? (E.g., p. 72).