Antipodean Angst – part 11

War

Like it or not humans are violent, and war is a part of our species and our civilisations down through history. Recorded history details this over and over. The further back in time, the less relevance we place on war and its impacts on people and societies and how it perhaps was somehow simpler and less destructive. It was very destructive to the people of those eras and the impacts on societies was significant when you consider how war was waged in those times. Regardless the wars from antiquity are more the stuff of legends than something that was actually real to a great many people today, it simply has little to no relevance to the world they inhabit.

War is always destructive as it destroys, it also creates and there is the paradox of war. War, much like most of the thing’s humans do, is driven by the desire for power and by greed. The reasons for going to war are just the excuses made to validate war by the people who start them. You can argue the philosophical, sociological, economic, political, or any other reasons for war but it ultimately comes down to someone wanting to flex their muscles and exert their dominance.

An example from recent times is the last Iraqi war. America created a reason based on sketchy information, being that Saddam Hussein had these massive stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and they had to step in and stop the evil regime from using them. They did just that and it became a conflict that went for years and still is simmering along today in one way or another. Without going into detail, someone had a grudge with Hussein and creating a reason for action was the way that America was manipulated into going to war once again. Given that al-Qaeda had flown a couple of planes into the twin towers less than two years earlier it is a certainty that grudges were indeed held in the circles of power in America, so they tied one thing to another and built a story of fear and loathing. Public opinion was strong for some payback, so the timing was right to manipulate the public, domestically and globally, and create a situation. Time has muddied much of a chance of who were the architects of this war and in all probability we will never know, such is the way of things in this world.

That the military, the military industrial machine, and the banks wanted it as well was the vehicle that drove it along as well. War is good for the bottom line and good for a military that needs to justify its continued growth. The public believed the bullshit and off to war they went with a coalition of forces from various other countries. History tells the truth of the matter and even then the war went on as no-one knew how to get out of it without the Middle East erupting into a fury of old grudges being settled and the precious oil that comes from the region being turned off or controlled by whatever regime seized control. Oil equals wealth in this world and there is another part of the greed equation. A somewhat rough rundown on how that panned out, and the details, but it is not meant to be fully detailed as that would take a couple of thousand pages which has been done already, repeatedly.

Strangely in these modern times war is a constant thing that operates in the background and is largely ignored by the public, except for the start of hostilities, atrocities, and sometimes the end. Yet war is decried and treated as a beast to be avoided at all costs. Perhaps this is the concept of total war that sets the world on fire, much like the last two world wars did. That is when war becomes a thing that cannot be ignored as it impacts every population in one way or another.

The paradox of war is the interesting part and to understand that it is necessary to look back at the last two world wars.

History tells us that World War One started as a result of Archduke Ferdinand being assassinated. That was the trigger, and the actual causes were geopolitical and economic tensions that had been building due to the period preceding the war being one of the first times of modern globalisation. Never before had the world economy been so intertwined, and with that all the positive and negative effects that globalisation has.

The geopolitical causes were, as always, multi-faceted, being the rise of Militarism, Imperialist expansion, and Nationalism. Factor in mutual defence alliances and things were bound to get messy. This is a brief overview rather than writing a comprehensive detail of the factors that led to that war.

Basically, it was a pile-on once the Duke was assassinated as the mutual defence alliances meant that countries were bound by these to fight regardless of what they wanted. It was the first industrialised war and the carnage was of such staggering proportions that it shocked the world.

World War Two was a flow on from the previous war in that similar geopolitical and economic tensions were still there, just altered a bit to fit the circumstances. History tells us that it was Hitler who started the war and that is that. Hitler simply took advantage of a situation due to the repressive actions of the Allied countries with their war reparations and the impacts of the Great Depression to make his grab for power and from that the rest is history as we know it.

Economically it also made sense as war is good for business, even when it doesn’t seem so. Think on this, war needs more than just fingers on triggers; it needs all the material to make war, and all that stuff that must be produced. Businesses make stuff, and in times of war they make a lot of stuff as it gets used and has to be replaced. The uniforms, boots, helmets, weapons of all sorts, food, ammunition, transport of all sorts, and medical supplies, they all have to be made and sent to the war zones to wage war. That equals profit for business. It is the same for any armed conflict with business, in that war is good for profit. War also creates jobs and that is good for economies.

War also accelerates technological advances for humanity, and this is good as it increases humanity’s ability to develop and advance as a species. The advancement happens in a short timeframe to develop better ways of waging war in both attack and defence. The technological advancements have applications beyond the waging of war and that is the good part of that process. These advancements continue after hostilities cease and as a result human civilisation benefits, at least some parts do as nothing is ever equal.

The other side of war is that populations get reduced massively and quickly, either from the military deaths or the civilian deaths, it is all about the numbers. That creates a situation at the other end where there is more for those who remain, despite the destruction of resources and infrastructures.

It might not seem to be so, particularly from the stance of the masses of population that have had to suffer and sacrifice during war, and then survive and rebuild their lives and their homes from the ruins. For the vast bulk of humanity, war and the aftermath of war is nothing but loss and hardship.

It is more apparent to the wealthy, business, and ruling classes as they have profited from waging war and then profit further from the spoils that war provides them. Opportunity being one of the intangible spoils in that there are vacuums created in entire sectors of economies and societies that need to be filled. If you have the resources and ambition, then when opportunity appears you can take advantage of it.

 In more modern times war is messy in that it is beamed directly into homes and the actions of combatants and governments are dissected by media and is judged by the public. This makes war a tad more difficult to wage as public opinion swings back and forth dependent on the information flow and just how messy the fighting is.

It is enough to say that the prospect of war is something that the public largely do not want, and the ruling classes largely do want but don’t want to come out and say it. Stating your case and where you stand on war can be very damaging for the upper echelons of society and for businesses, so they proclaim peace whilst advocating for war.

So what makes the prospect of war in the 21st century inevitable? I mean global war here and not just the punch-ups in the Middle East and power squabbles and punch-ups in a myriad of other countries.

It comes down to power and greed which is always the case for what drives most of the human condition.

Right now, in 2020, the tensions of the last few decades are coming to a point where the global power balance will be altered as some nations rise in strength and others decline. Rulers are seeking greater power and that requires doing things that are not necessarily nice. Not nice to their own populations and definitely not nice to other countries. Greed plays a part as wealth is strength in this world we live in. It always has been.

The following is a bit of an overview, in crude layman terms, of the global situation.

China has risen from being an insignificant nothing of a country to being an immense global force due in large to it making itself the global factory. It also has built a military machine that is massive. Combine that with it being a communist regime, and the ingrained Chinese cunning that is historical in that they always play a long game and rely on distraction, deflection, and deceit to be successful in their activities. Now they want to be the rulers of the world, or at least a significant chunk of it. To be that they have to have dominance politically, economically, and militarily and they have quietly been going about that for a few decades at least. What we are seeing now is the gloves coming off and they are playing their hand.

Russia never really got over losing the Cold War. Their ruler, for there is only one despite how any might view their political system. Putin is the boss and he will do what he wants to do in order to get what he wants. He learnt his lessons and was educated in his time in the cold war era in East Germany and he learnt them well.

The internal politics of Russia is being aligned the way that Putin wants it while still trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the world. The Russians are pretty good at being shifty and manipulating information and events to suit their purposes and this has been going on for a long time also.

In all probability they will bide their time, cement alliances that they have formed, and when they see an opportunity will go for it. They are flexing their military muscle by boasting about super weapons as a threat to the world of what they can do. They are warning about awakening the sleeping bear if you know anything about history.

The Middle East is frankly a seething mass of ancient hatreds just waiting for the opportunity to erupt. Any excuse will do and any distraction from other places that will not bring the Western world back into their patch is the thing they are waiting for to get busy settling old grudges and hatreds.

Israel is a problem child, and they have shown time and again that they will not be pushed around. Hitler saw to that with his extermination policy, and the simple fact that Jews have historically been the subject of hatred throughout a lot of cultures despite the fact that they generally like to be left alone to do their thing and follow their religion. What the world does know is that Israel will not hesitate to use any weapon in its arsenal to fight, including nuclear. That is their ace in the hole as the world knows that they are the global streetfighters who will use anything they have to stop history repeating as it has done for thousands of years. Israel will not hesitate to turn the middle east into a smoking nuclear hole to simply stop the historical attacks upon them.  Sadly, like any streetfighter, there is always someone out there willing to have a go at them.

America simply cannot imagine being anything less than the toughest kid on the block and will do what it takes to maintain their dominant role as the world’s police force and tough guy. For America they also need war to keep their economy alive as they are a war-based economy despite anything else they do. Factor in the way that American society is ripping itself apart, then politically a good old fashioned war is preferable to an internal domestic war. America currently is the petri dish under the microscope for what is happening globally and that is disturbing.

Europe is pretty tired of being the world’s battleground and they would happily see the next big fight take place somewhere else so long as they get a piece of the action and make a few bucks along the way. That doesn’t discount the tensions and old hatreds between various European countries, but those alone would probably not be enough for a global conflict to erupt. A global war however would be a good distraction for them to settle some old grudges without coming under the spotlight too much. A global war would also be a handy distraction for Russia to forcibly retake old territories and rebuild their empire.

The Asian Pacific region has a few tensions simmering along and has had for a long time. It is a hard one to call on the Asian Pacific region as they have had some taste of war throughout the world wars and other conflicts including the impacts of tyrant leaders extracting revenge on neighbours, or settling religious or racial hatreds within their countries. There are also ancient grudges and hatreds simmering along waiting for an opportunity.

Australia, being part of the Asian Pacific region, has never really been invaded; it just had a couple of subs poke around Sydney Harbour and a bit of bombing in Darwin. So, Australia has never really felt the impact of war on its soil, we just sent troops to fight in other places. Australia seems to see itself as sort of immune from global war as an island nation, and yet we appear to be a pretty inviting target for a lot of countries regardless of how those countries present themselves as friends or foe. In that we are like innocent children who simply cannot see reality from the fantasy we spin to convince ourselves our world safe. We have a woefully inadequate military to defend ourselves, yet we don’t hesitate to pile-on in other countries fights. Internally we have so much division in politics and society that war would cause us immense problems in reacting to it in a meaningful or timely way. Simply put we would be invaded and occupied and then become a battleground for our resources and not our population.

The weird thing for Australia is we simply cannot comprehend or understand how the other continents have these ancient grudges and hatreds and how it drives conflict regardless of the consequences. Perhaps it is a result of being a relatively young country and being an island nation.

Africa simply has tribal tensions and all the atrocities that have resulted from them. They are ancient tribal hatreds and tensions just dressed up in bigger population centres and with the modern twist applied. The world police, being America and the UN have never really helped things along; they more or less put out the flames but leave the embers burning. It wouldn’t take much for the embers to fan back to flames.

India is what could be termed as the new kid on the block even though they have been in conflict with China for decades, and resultantly have built a military to defend against Chinese expansionism. They have a large population and a large standing military as well as a reasonably large nuclear arsenal. India is not going to take a lot of incursions into their lands before they really lash out to defend what is theirs. People have a tendency to underestimate India due to how they are perceived globally. That underestimation is a serious mistake because 150 nukes would do a lot of damage. Not to mention national pride and resolve which would see them fight like hell for their lands and culture.

The main players in the current geopolitical and economic tensions are Russia, China, and America, with China and America being the most likely of the trio to start a conflict that could ignite the world. There is always the wild card in the deck and like all wild cards you never know what it is until it is played. My best guess as to the wild card in this deck would be North Korea as they have a whole bunch of internal problems and taking back South Korea would help to solve some of those problems. Having a nuclear capability also makes them a difficult customer to deal with as they can cause a lot of damage if they are backed into a corner. Russia could be a wild card, but they are more sophisticated and will most likely bide their time and wait for an opportunity to do what they want.

The ‘tell’ for China starting global aggression will be the taking of Taiwan, and that is increasingly looking to be a certainty rather than some abstract discussion.  They have been posturing for years and recent times have seen their intentions if you care to look at it without a blinkered view.

Interestingly, most countries and leaders don’t want to be the bad guy and be the ones who start hostilities so there will be the usual political sparring, economic emasculation of countries, and either real or fabricated excuses for conflict to start. If you bully someone else into taking the first swing and you take the first hit, then you can have the perception of the moral high ground.

The economic emasculation is pretty clear to see, America and its use of trade sanctions against countries that need to be pulled back into toeing the American line. Also the quad-lateral trade agreement they want to forge in the Asian Pacific region to emasculate China and remove that economic dominance that they hold.

Australia and the tri-lateral trade agreement with India and Japan is an easy one to see to remove Australia’s economic reliance on China. Both of those agreements will see China backed into an economic corner as they lose that dominance which will impact on their economy. Something along the lines of one kid stealing the other kids lunch money if you need an analogy. The mutual defence acts being forged between countries are a way to have strength in numbers so that weaker countries can be stronger with their military might.

The pandemic is the thing that is setting the world up for the next global depression and the way governments around the world are generating and spending money is achieving little more than kicking the can down the road.

Not one country has any effective plan or real idea of how to get their economies going again in a real and productive way despite all the political rhetoric about opening borders, domestically and internationally, and ‘restarting’ their economies and creating jobs.

A global depression would be a key characteristic in forcing the hand of a country to enter into conflict as it is an excellent way to stimulate a stalled economy and also motivate its population. Naturally reasons and propaganda would have to be skilfully devised and employed as the public in general has become a little bit smarter to detecting when it is being manipulated regards armed conflicts.

Think of the terrorism slant when all Muslims were bad and then it reverted to the reality that some Muslims were on a jihad for whatever reason. North Korea was the enemy in 2018 and now they have been sidelined and replaced by China as the bad guys. There have been various Middle Eastern countries that were the bad guys, but only for a short time and that is all related to the problems in the Middle East and the western military intervention into their domestic affairs which is ultimately about oil. All of this was propaganda and manipulation to make the public think the way the politicians wanted as they reacted to threats, real or perceived, and forced or directed their agendas.

When viewed in this light, the circumstances for global conflict are pretty high as the historical pressures that led us into the last two world wars are in place again. This time it is in a compressed timeframe which is disturbing as it creates a situation that could be more volatile in which war can start and then spread. Factor in that actions and activities of minority groups, both socially and politically that have been changing the political and social mindset of western countries for the past thirty years or so and it is not beyond the realm of possibility that someone has been creating the conditions for a massive change in the global power balance.

It is important to not descend into the weird world of conspiracy theory as that simply muddies the water and derails rational examination of facts. Thinking that aliens are overseeing us with abductions and anal probes or lizard people living deep in the Earth are actually pulling the strings is the stuff of fantasy and not at all helpful. It is entertaining though.

What should be considered is what Sun-Tzu and communist Russia outlined for subversion in the overthrow of regimes and countries. These are time honoured tactics and have been used time and again by many countries.

A reasonable inspection of what is going on in the world and it can be seen that this sort of activity has been used in some form for a period of years, China being the most apparent player in subverting the Australian political and social attitudes in recent decades. The fact that other countries use the same tactics to achieve a goal should not be overlooked or ignored. Subversion is a case of using the right tool for the job.

Right now it seems like a global game of chicken and it is to be seen which country blinks first and pulls the trigger. China feels very strong right now on the global stage and has no problem with throwing threats at any country that they want to. Basically China is testing the waters to gauge the resolve of entire countries if it came to conflict.

War is coming regardless of what anyone thinks or wants; it is inevitable as it is part of the human condition. It is part of the political mentality, business greed for profit, and individual desire for power that can be held by a single person or by a group. War to these people is nothing more than operating in a challenging environment that yields fantastic profits.

When war comes it is the little people, the vast bulk of humanity, that will pay the price, as that is also the way it always has been, and historically so. The people at the top of the heap, the business people who run the companies and corporations, the bankers and their banks, the politicians, the ruling families and dynasties, they are the ones who are the winners from war. They are the ones who drive the machine of war and from that machine they gain power and profit.

As always, we the people who make up the seething bulk of humanity are nothing in the scheme of things when it comes to playing these games. We simply don’t count in the equation of power and profit besides being the means to an end.

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