This is going to be a very cynical post.
There are few things as confusing as war – it has the power to destroy lives, cities, countries, cultures, and with the advent of the nuclear bomb – potentially life as we know it.
U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, in his farewell address as President said:
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction…
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Well, it appears we have not listened. Any superpower keeps military strength as the absolute cornerstone of its hegemony. Might means right. Might buys you a seat at any table you wish to sit at. And the strongest country writes the rules.
But what happens when that strength is not required? What happens when things are peaceful in many parts of the world (I’m not saying they are – this is hypothetically) – there has arisen this century a huge industry centered on war. If there is no war, then this industry starts to lose meaning. It is not something that can switched off and back on with the flick of a switch though.
This is where the cynical part of me says that in order to keep the wheels of this industry turning, conflicts become “made-to-order”. At the very least, they are exploited to support and industry that needs them to survive. I was yakking with some mates the other day and the question came up – do you think Ukraine could be the start of WW3? I answered no – of course not. We have seen the one event that may have triggered a much larger conflict – the downing of MH-17. I think the world collectively held its breath for a day or two when that happened, the US claims of “Putin’s Missile” (Does that make the missile that shot down Iran Air 655 “Reagan’s Missile”)? – one could quickly imagine things escalating then, but if that didn’t do it, I doubt there is much that would.
Instead there looks to be some cold calculus to this – from both sides. From the US/European side there was a lot of meddling going –
That is a bugged recording of Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet speaking to Baroness Catherine Ashton, Vice President of the EU Commission. Head to the 8:30 mark and listen to Peat saying that the snipers were not Yanukovych’s guys, they were from the new administration, and they were killing people on both sides – pro-government *and* the protesters. When you couple this with the fact that John McCain (former US presidential candidate – Sarah Palin’s mate and outright fuckface) and Victoria Nuland (US Department of State) were keeping some very poor company when they went on a business trip to Kiev – they met Oleh Tyahnybok – a Ukrainian nationalist and leader of a neo-nazi movement – Svoboda:
The EU and the US had their hands dirty. On the Russian side – of course they were funneling troops and weapons into Eastern Ukraine. Putin was faced with little option there. But – he could not win and humiliate Kiev and its western backers, and he could not lose, and be humiliated himself – and so we see exactly how it all played out – a stalemate. This is where we are at now. Stalemates are great for the war industry. Yes – it is a leap of logic to say this was all intended to work out this way – and no I dont necessarily believe that this was planned from the start – but the calculus here is to exploit a situation to create a conflict, and then to keep that conflict going, and then you need to beef up security, establish bases and be ready in case of escalation. With enough of these conflicts, military spending becomes more and more justifiable. This didn’t happen directly in the Ukraine – but the fomenting of trouble part certainly did. Supply of weapons was pushed for, establishing bases was never considered (Big angry bear next door would have thrown a tantrum)
We saw it just about happen with Iran (And meatsack McCain was in there again):
Yes folks, that was real. But the Obama administration did something that really pissed the republicans off – they did a deal with Iran:
– That was from 2010 – and that is pretty much what happened. The US will not push itself into any situations that they think will get out of hand. If Iran was attacked, then if there wasn’t a nuclear program prior, there would be one soon after, with every incentive in the world to use it. Attacking Iran doesn’t make sense unless you want to destroy them completely.
The point to all of this is that the military industrial complex has to justify its existence. We have seen over recent years the US engage in pointless wars, and agitate for even more. This has come at huge expense to the US, and left the rest of the world incredulous – but lurking in the background is a mighty war machine that is doing very nicely thank you very much.
Lets hope the US doesn’t break the bank as a result. But as that is likely to end up in some sort of conflict, that contingency has probably been pencilled in too.