War has been described in various ways. Barbaric would be the most apt description; a complete breakdown of humane and civilized behavior.
It has also, I believe, been described as a continuation of politics by other means, and a way of solving international disputes when all else has failed. I would dispute these last two descriptions, and supplement: a way of making a lot of people very rich, shoring up the unstable capitalist system, culling people in an overpopulated world and of course gaining access to new lands and resources (i.e. imperialism, colonialism or neo-colonialism.) It also seems to actually excite certain people who actually enjoy playing war games and destroying things.
Looking at all the wars thruout history, I honestly can’t see that any have solved anything. They might have eliminated one problem, but they then create more. Basically all wars are a means of one country or group of countries exerting power over others. A way, in other words, of widening countries’ empires, spheres of influence or access to mineral and other resources.
Just take the big 20th Century wars for example. The First World War was clearly a traditional imperialist one involving the Kaiser of Germany and his kinfolk in the British Royal family seeking to widen or hold on to their respective empires or spheres of influence. Other nations joined in of course. The defeat of Germany led to the Treaty of Versailles which imposed reparation fees and re-drew German borders in favor of its neighbors.
This Victors’ Treaty led directly to the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, and to the Second World War. So much for the so-called ‘war to end wars’ as the First World War was described at the time; it actually directly created the most devastating war in human history to date.
‘Ah but the Second World War was a just war; it defeated Nazism’ people cry. Well as has just been seen, there would have been no Nazi Germany had it not been for the First World War and the unfair conditions imposed upon Germany. That’s the first point.
Secondly, Nazi Germany was only following in the footsteps of other brutal empires in the past, such as the British Empire for instance. Never let it be forgotten that the British invented the concentration camp, and executed ‘inferior races’ en masse if they opposed or resisted British rule.
Thirdly, Britain’s reason for going to war with Germany in the first place proved to be hollow. Czechoslovakia and Poland had both been annexed by Germany, and the latter was the pretext for the outbreak of war in September 1939. Six years later at the end of the War far from regaining their freedom, Czechoslovakia, Poland and a lot of other Eastern and Central European countries were handed over lock, stock and barrel to the dictator Joseph Stalin, then an ally of Britain and the USA.
This was agreed at various treaties between the Allied powers at Tehran, Yalta, Potsdam, etc. As in all wars, the victors carved up the spoils between them. The Soviet Red Army was already in occupation of most of Eastern and Central Europe at the end of the Second World War, and was not going to give up these newly acquired ‘satellite states’ as they became known in the West. It more than anything wanted a buffer zone of friendly client states in case Germany or some other power tried to invade the Soviet Union again. It also wanted to impose its own political system on its neighbors, rather than have capitalist states right on its doorstep again.
The USA and UK had similar aspirations. So two ‘spheres of influence’ were created in Europe. Nominally independent states became allied, thru NATO and the Warsaw Pact, to eiither the USA or the USSR. Germany was again divided and lost territory to neighboring countries, and Austria was also initially divided, but later the Soviets marched out on condition it remained neutral.
The Second World War thus led directly to the Cold War, the nuclear arms race between the USSR and USA, the division of Europe between East and West, and of course to the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel on Palestinian soil and all the wars, terrorism and trouble that has caused.
The six million or more Jews, gipsies, homosexuals, Communists, mentally and physically handicapped people and others who perished in the Nazi concentration camps are cited as justification for the War, but the Final Solution was a direct result of the War and was only made possible by the War.
Hitler said long before war broke out, that if started the Jews would be punished. Even if he hadn’t said this, it is perfectly obvious that atrocities of the kind that took place in Nazi Germany – the gas chambers and all the rest of it – are made much more possible and likely in the atmosphere of all-out war. With soldiers and civilians being killed every day nobody had much time to worry what was happening to these various minorities in the camps.
Would we in Britain have known, and would many have cared anyway, what was happening to the German and other foreign nationals rounded up and incarcerated for the duration of the War in the UK? Had we gassed them, would Britons have been up in arms when they were more concerned about the nightly bombing raids on our cities? Would we have even known or bothered to find out about what went on in the incarceration camps?
Had the Allies got rid of Hitler by other means, had they accepted en masse the Jewish and other refugees in the 1930s, perhaps setting up a separate state for them in the vast, underpopulated areas of countries like the USA, the USSR and Australia (not in the tinderbox overpopulated Arab Middle East), then not only would the Holocaust have been prevented, but so would the Second World War and its consequences.
I see the Second World War as yet another imperialist one, whereby the rival empires of Nazi Germany, Hirohito’s Japan, Mussolini’s Italy, Brtain, the USA and Stalin’s Soviet Union all fought over territory principally. In the end the new empires were established, and most countries came under the domination, if not direct rule, of the two biggest super-power victors of the Second World War, the USA and the USSR. The concentration camp victims, the bombing victims on both sides (including those in Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the atom bombs were dropped), and the ‘cannon fodder’ (soldiers of both sides) were just casualties of yet another imperialist war which created as many or more problems than it ‘solved’.
There has to be found another way of dealing with dictators, of settling international disputes, of preventing genocide and torture other than all-out war which only really succeeds in profiting the arms manufacturers and dividing the spoils of the war among the victors, which in effect means the rulers of the victorious countries. Nobody actually wins wars except this relatively small ruling clique of politicians, arms manufacturers and other big businesses which gain access to mineral and other resources. The ordinary people of all countries lose heavily in all wars, not least in the civilian and military casualties which barely affect the ruling elite safe in their bunkers directing the mayhem.
The only long-term solution is some sort of permanent world security force under the auspices of the United Nations. This security force needs to replace national armed forces, and be stationed permanently in all countries. National sovereignty must take second place to world peace and the authority of the United Nations General Assembly, or to a confederal world government if that can ever be established.
I’m sure the independent kingdoms of England would have held up their hands in horror if told that the only way to stop the constant wars between them was a united England under one government, along with effective policing. Clearly, though, this is the way the world had to go and is in fact going slowly but surely. The European Union, while by no means perfect, is an example of nation states coming together for their common interests.
Eventually, or ultimately, the EU and similar groupings of countries must develop into fully federal entities, and they in turn must be policed and come under the overall authority of a confederal world government.
Safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that the whole system is democratic, and that powers are devolved down to national and regional levels. The United States is a pretty good example, where the Federal government in Washington DC has limited but effective powers, and the individual states of the Union retain a State legislature and a great deal of autonomy.
A new war between the States is now unthinkable. The same should be true of Europe, and one day, of the world if this federal/confederal approach is adopted.
Otherwise wars will continue indefinitely, and with the weapons now available we could easily destroy our planet and make it permanently uninhabitable.