America’s Cycles of Change

Patterns of 21st Century War

Mon, 16 November 2015

Twenty first century wars will be fought with everything from thermonuclear bombs and poison gas to machetes – and remember – you heard it here first.

Jesus told every national security adviser of every nation around the world today the way to think in the 24th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. He famously predicted: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars.” That’s been true for pretty much every generation of history for the past 2,000 years. And things haven’t changed today.

Why not outlaw war? This nice but utterly ludicrous idea has actually been tried. It was done in 1928 in the Kellogg-Briand peace pact. U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand were even awarded Nobel Peace Prizes for their “achievement.”

They were the most farcical Nobel’s ever given to anyone. Within five years of  that “historic” worthless piece of paper being signed, Adolf Hitler had taken power in Germany. Josef Stalin was already ruling in the Kremlin, plotting the slaughter of millions of his own people when it was signed. Less than a decade later, the Imperial Japanese army had slaughtered three-quarters of a million Chinese people in its drive up the Yangtze River valley to Nanjing. Within 11 years of that “achievement,” World War II, the bloodiest single conflict in human history, had begun. Kellogg and Briand were clowns. They were idiots.

Recent U.S. governments aren’t quite that naive: George W. Bush and Barack Obama were both naïve and ignorant about a lot of things in the world. But I don’t believe either of them ever dreamed like Frank Kellogg that they could outlaw war, or like Woodrow Wilson believed that we they were going to bring eternal, lasting peace.

The leaders of the giant European Union of 27 nations encompassing half a billion people — the third-largest organization of human beings on the Earth after China and India — are firm believers in the so-called soft power of economic influence and diplomatic persuasion rather than the hard power of military might. Safe under the protective nuclear-armed shield of the U.S.-led NATO alliance for the past 60 years, they believe that major wars are a thing of the past too. But they’re wrong.

The first reason they’re wrong is that war has never been successfully abolished in the entirety of recorded organized human history; one hesitates to use the term “civilized” for anything to do with war.

The second reason is that we don’t live in an age of peace or even of receding war now. Genocide continues in Darfur. The organized political groupings of the African Union, the Arab League and China together represent one-third of the population of Earth. They all strongly support Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan. And al-Bashir remains completely unrepentant about the continuing brutalities of his armed forces against the black Christian and animist peoples of Darfur.

Farther south, things are even worse in Congo, formerly Zaire. It has been in a state of anarchic chaos for well over a decade. It is the largest, most populous and most hellish collapsed-state region on Earth. At least 10 million people have died there.

In Afghanistan, the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies are on the upsurge all across the country. More than a decade of increasing U.S.involvement has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and just made endless enemies for America all across that country. Even though the government of President Hamid Karzai wouldn’t have lasted a minute without he sold the country’s vast copper reserves to China, not the U.S.

Continuing southward, Pakistan, already an Islamic nuclear power, teeters on the brink of disintegration. The civilian government has only the most tenuous control over the armed forces, and one-quarter of the area of the country, the huge North-West Frontier Province, is already controlled by the Taliban and their allies.

The pattern of these already serious wars and conflicts around the world teaches us a great deal about the patterns of 21st century war. The high-tech, “lean, mean” militaries that former President George W. Bush and his first defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, so enthusiastically pursued are irrelevant to all of them.

Twenty first century war isn’t simple, isn’t controllable, isn’t always high tech and it isn’t clean. Things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get any better.