Recently Simon Jenkins wrote an article subtitled “Britain faces no serious threat, yet keeps waging war.
While big defence exists, glory-hungry politicians will use it.”
Why do we still go to war?
He asked – like many on our mailing list: “Why do we still go to war? We seem unable to stop . . . Germans do not do it, or Spanish or Japanese. Britain’s borders and British people have not been under serious threat for a generation. Yet time and again our leaders crave battle. Why?”
His answer: “to the defence lobby what matters is the money. It sustains combat by constantly promising success and inducing politicians and journalists to see “‘more enemy dead’, ‘a glimmer of hope’ and ‘a corner about to be turned’ . . .It is not democracy that keeps western nations at war, but armies and the interests massed behind them.”
Jenkins continues: “The greatest speech about modern defence was made in 1961 by the US president Eisenhower . . . “
“Looking back over his time in office, his farewell message to America was a simple warning against the “disastrous rise of misplaced power” of a military-industrial complex with “unwarranted influence on government”. A burgeoning defence establishment, backed by large corporate interests, would one day employ so many people as to corrupt the political system. (His original draft even referred to a “military-industrial-congressional complex”.) This lobby, said Eisenhower, could become so huge as to “endanger our liberties and democratic processes . . . There is no strategic defence justification for the US spending 5.5% of its gross domestic product on defence or Britain 2.5%, or for the Nato “target” of 2%.”
“Eisenhower remarked that “every gun that is made is a theft from those who hunger”. Jenkins adds: “a bomber is two power stations and a hospital not built. Likewise, each Tomahawk Cameron drops on Tripoli destroys not just a Gaddafi bunker (are there any left?), but a hospital ward and a classroom in Britain.”
See the cartoon in which the politician who spends all the money on wars and complains that he has none left for schools and hospitals, asking “what is wrong with me?”: the psychiatrist diagnoses a ‘deepseated military-industrial complex’.
America sank into a swamp of kidnapping, torture and imprisonment without trial
Jenkins continues: “At the end of the cold war new conflicts were ‘assiduously invented’: wars on terror, drugs, piracy, internet espionage and man’s general inhumanity to man. None yields victory, but all need equipment. The war on terror fulfilled all Eisenhower’s fears, as America sank into a swamp of kidnapping, torture and imprisonment without trial.
Belligerent posture provokes a response
“The belligerent posture of the US and Britain towards the Muslim world has fostered antagonism and moderate threats in response. The bombing of extremist targets in Pakistan is an invitation for terrorists to attack us, and then a need for defence against such attack. Meanwhile, the opportunity cost of appeasing the complex is astronomical . . . “
Amongst the 457 generally supportive comments on the article,was ‘Kibblesworth’ s advice:
“We should do as the Japanese have done: convert our armed forces into a defence force, and scrap our power projection capabilities.
“Our armed forces should be scaled down and confined to peace-keeping in certain countries.
“Ideally everyone would do this, which would not only guarantee mutual security but would free up a lot of capital which could be spent more productively.” He ends:
“I really hope that we don’t need another major global war to make humanity realise the stupidity of killing millions of our own species.”