There have always been wars. The history of humanity is largely a history wars, and to this day there are wars with no prospect of anything in the futures but wars. There will always be wars until the reason for them is identified and rejected.
The reason for wars is clear enough. There are two lies that mankind has embraced throughout history, without which there could be no wars.
The first comes in two version, the religious version and collectivist version, but there are many varieties of each. Both are varieties of the same deception, that anything is of more value to an individual than their own life.
The religious version makes the thing more valuable than one's life some future, after-death thing such as heaven or paradise or reincarnation. The collectivist version makes the thing more valuable than one's life some group of which the individual is a member, their family, their neighbors, their nationality, their race, their country, or their society.
The second lie is that it is right for rational beings to use force in their dealings with one another. I do not say, "except as defense against force," because rational human beings to not use force in dealing with others, ever. If force is being used, the user of force is not a rational human being. There are no principles for dealing with irrational beings—any method that works is justified.
War always depends on the acceptance, in some form, of these two lies: that anything is of more value to the individual than their own life, and that anything ever justifies the use of force between rational beings. In all the ways that war is put over, these to wrong principles always lie at the heart.
What Is War
There is another reason there are wars. It does not cause them, but allows them to be. It is assumed that wars are inevitable, and or simply accepted as a "fact of life," like disease or natural disasters—they are never described as what they actually are, but talked about in the abstract, as though they were something separate from chosen human behavior. Wars do not just happen, they are what people do.
War is the systematic slaughter and maiming of human beings, the wanton destruction of their property, and the intentional corruption of everything that makes human life possible or worth living. There is no cruelty or brutality as ruthless or on such a massive scale as war. War is pure human evil.
I am anti-war. "Oh, your a pacifist then," I am told. No, I am not a pacifist. I do not believe in evading a conflict by compromising principle. I would defend my property and my loved ones to the death against any who would assault them, I do not believe in appeasement or paying blackmail. If I must kill someone to defend my property or my child or my wife or myself, I will, but I will not deceive myself into thinking I have I gained something by killing them, or that I am better off than I would have been if the killing had not been necessary, nor that killing a man, even in self defense, is some kind of noble act. What I've done is something that horrifies and disgusts a decent person, a necessary and moral act, but not a preferable one.
If war is ever necessary, and it can only be necessary in defense, it is not something honorable and noble, it is a disgusting and revolting job. Perhaps someone has to do the job, and it takes a certain kind of metal and moral fortitude to do it—but it's not noble!
If men must march off to war, it should not be with cheers and mirth and brass bands, but with all the somber seriousness of the horrible task they have bravely chosen, and all the gravity that ghastly enterprise entails—not with cheers, but with tears. What is wrong with men that they can, with eager anticipation, go out to slaughter others of their own kind, with no regret that they must.
There is nothing more horrible than war, more destructive, more costly, or more ruinous, and it harms or kills everyone it touches from those blown to bits on the field to the loved one's who lose them, or must watch them with only part of their life when they return, struggling and suffering with whatever bit of life they have left.
No man of integrity and decency could possibly desire war, or ever see it as anything but a horrid evil. But there are many who glorify this horrible evil, and consider it a virtue to be part of it.
I am not a pacifist, but I am anti-war. If you are not anti-war than you are pro-war, and you, and all those like you are the reason there are wars. If there is anything immoral, it is anything that glorifies or promotes war.
In his book,
War Is A Racket, Major General Smedley D. Butler, explains that it is money that induces a country to go to war, led by those who stand to gain millions and billions from it, but only, "By a few. Munitions makers. Bankers. Ship builders. Manufacturers. Meat packers. Speculators."
These are not business men seeking to make profits by producing products that improve human life sold in a free market. True business men, industrialists, manufacturers, and farmers, never want war, and never profit from them.
Business men in a free economy always oppose war, as Ayn Rand explains in "The Roots Of War" chapter of Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal:
"Men who are free to produce, ... have nothing to gain from war and a great deal to lose. ... Economically, wars cost money; in a free economy, where wealth is privately owned, the costs of war comes out of the incomes of private citizens ... and a citizen cannot hope to recoup his own financial losses (such as taxes or business dislocations or property destruction) by winning the war. Thus his own economic interests are on the side of peace."
It is only in a mixed economy, like America's, which is really a fascist one, or a socialist or communist one, or in any other system where so-called "business men" with government pull, and no moral compunction about "making money" on death and destruction, that huge profits can be made from war. Today, the "war" industry, obscenely called the "defense" industry, is the largest and most lucrative single industry in the world.
This hugely lucrative industry is always on the side of governments choosing to go to war, but neither they, nor the government could engage in war without the complicity of the people.
Why Do They Fight
In her article, "The Roots of War," Ayn Rand points out, "Remember that private citizens—whether rich or poor, whether businessmen or workers—have no power to start a war. That power is the exclusive prerogative of a government."
My maternal grandmother, whose sons fought in both the World Wars, used to say, "There will always be wars until all the young men refuse to fight in them," which was her way of saying there would always be wars, because she knew most young men would not refuse to fight, and could easily be stirred up to eagerly join in the "glory" of defending whatever it was their government convinced them needed defending, even when their government was obviously the aggressor.
Rand is right, only governments can declare war, but governments could declare all the wars they liked, but there would be no wars if all the young men and women refused to fight. What is it about young men and women that makes it so easy to convince them to go to war?
There are many things, but one is always the war rhetoric. They are young, enthusiastic, full of feeling and not much sense, and perhaps a little gullible, and it is toward that all war rhetoric is directed.
In his article, "Propaganda: Nobody Does It Better Than America," Paul Weber wrote, "Good propaganda appeals to neither logic nor morality." Effective, "political speech, [is] carefully crafted to appeal to powerful emotions, with either no appeal to reason, or (better yet) a vague appeal to something that sounds foggily reasonable, but is so obscure that no one will bother to dissect it."
It has always been the rhetoric, and it has always been intended to excite the emotions and passions, and it has always been lies.
Rand explains that, too:
World War I was put over as "the war to end all wars," and the "war to make the world safe for democracy," but:
"World War I led, not to 'democracy,' but to the creation of three dictatorships: Soviet Russia, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany." And obviously, Word War II demonstrated in short order, no war ends wars.
World War II was put over as the, "war for four freedoms," but:
"World War II led, not to 'Four Freedoms,' but to the surrender of one-third of the world's population into communist slavery."
In case you don't recall what Roosevelt's "four freedoms" were, they were 1. Freedom of speech and expression, 2. Freedom of religion, 3. Freedom from want, 4. Freedom from fear. That one-third of humanity delivered to communist slavery had their "freedom of speech" totally oppressed, they had no "freedom of religion," rather than "freedom from want, there was mass starvation, and they lived in constant terror. So much for the government's War rhetoric.
This Truth Is Necessary
I have never been anti-religion. I do not agree with most of the teachings of the religions, but I believe that every individual must come to his own beliefs and live by them. I have never tried to convince someone else their religion is wrong, and have even defended religion as that which provides, for some, a sense of the purpose of life, which is hope, and a belief in absolute values and the knowledge that life is worth living.
Even now, I am not fighting against religion, as Ayn Rand said, "I am fighting for truth." Even that is not quite correct. I'm only explaining a truth, not promoting it. If others reject or cannot understand it, that is their loss, but it is not going matter to me.
But I live for truth above all other things, and I must write the truth. This teaching of religion, in any form, that makes anything more important than your life, here and now, is a lie.
There is nothing more valuable than your own life, and all other values spring from that. If you are not alive, nothing matters at all. What lies have you believed if you believe something is more valuable than your own life?
Is freedom worth dying for? Freedom is for the living, for those who have something to live for—something to do. The dead have no use for freedom. The dead don't do anything.
Is your country worth dying for? The dead have no country—the dead have nothing. No matter what a person has in this life, when they die, they have nothing, and all that they had is distributed to others—or rots.
All those people telling you those lies about how noble it is to die for one's country, that it is, "heroic," and patriotic—none of them are sacrificing their lives—in fact, it is for them you are expected to throw yours away.
The next time someone begins to tell you how "patriotic" and "brave" and "noble" it is to die for your country, ask them if they really believe they are worth your dying for? Put it right to them. "Why do you think I should die for you?" Then ask them when they are leaving for the front, when are they planning to die for you.
Life is what one has now, and when that life ceases they cease to exist—forever. It is only religion that teaches there is something more than life. So long as you can convince people that there is something after death, something better than this life, you can convince them to indulge in any evil on any pretext. Witness the Muslim suicide terrorists. Witness all the American young men and women with religious faith dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, expecting be rewarded for it.
Those of any religion who are persuaded to risk their lives to defend whatever the latest government propaganda convinces them must be defended with their lives could not be convinced if they did not believe there was some reward beyond this life. This is one of the greatest lies of history, and a source of endless evil, and endless wars.
For those convinced there is life after death, whatever the lying political rhetoric convinces them they are to risk their life for, even if true, if they die, they will never get to enjoy it. If they survive, with some of their limbs blown off, or their mind destroyed by the continuous horror they will experience, that will be the only life they will ever know.
No doubt, some will be gullible enough to be taken in by the recruiter's promises of benefits, like an education or job opportunities, and be convinced the "risk" is worth the potential payoff. When recruiters are telling these lies, the fact that what these young people are being recruited to do is to kill men, women and children, to maim them and destroy their property, to create orphans, poverty, devastation, and grief is not mentioned. But that's the "job" they'll be doing. Perhaps they know it already, but if not explicitly, they cannot be totally ignorant of it. Whatever moral compunctions they had against harming others for their own benefit will be wiped out when they agree to do that "job." They are now willing to kill and destroy for the sake of an education or whatever other benefits they expect to get. It does not occur to them to ask, who pays for those benefits? So if the war does not kill them, or render their body or mind useless, it will already have destroyed their moral character.
Not every young man and woman who chooses to go to war believes in an afterlife, but they must believe that something is worth more than their life, or at least worth risking their life for.
One can only be convinced something is more valuable than their life, if they can be convinced their own value and purpose as a human being is something other than their own life. Most people do not have to be convinced of this, because they have been taught from the very beginning of their lives that values come from some group of which they are members, their family, their neighbors, their nationality, their race, their country, or their society.
When this view is inculcated to justify some evil, such as war, the rhetoric always claims that the individual's interests are inextricably bound in the interests of the society. Everything is expressed in terms of, "we," and, "us;" "our country," "our nation," "our future." "We must hang together, or surely hang separately." "We must all stand behind ...," "we must all support ...," "we must all contribute ...."
While it is never stated, the "we" or "us" does not refer to any individuals, but a disembodied "collective" for which the interests, or even the life, of any actual individuals may, or even ought to be, sacrificed, if they are in conflict with the interests of the collective.
But who or what determines "the interests of the collective?" It is whoever is in charge, who ever is running things, the boss, the leader, the ruler. In a country that means the government, whether that government is elected "democratically" or has simply "taken over."
It doesn't really matter, because most people already believe since it is "their" country, what is good for the country is good for them. This notion is so ingrained, that few people believe their own country is wrong or bad—ever. They may not agree with everything their country's government does, and may complain about some conditions in their country, but whatever faults they find are not the basis on which they value their country. In fact most people believe their country and their nationality is the best—simply because it is theirs. They do not question it, and would feel guilty if they did.
The name for this blind faith is called patriotism. This is another big lie that makes it possible to convince young men and woman to go to war.
Real War Propaganda
How many wars have been put over by such slogans as, "For God and Country," aimed directly at the two varieties of that chosen human flaw, the belief that anything is more important to an individual than that individual's own life.
The, "for God," part of the slogan is not so popular today, as religion has become less popular, but the "for country" part is, in some form, part of all war rhetoric.
The "reason" for war in all war rhetoric is always some supposed "threat" to the country. Seldom is that supposed threat the imminent attack or invasion by another country, and almost always it is something much more nebulous, like a country's, "security," or, "economy," or, "future," or, "foreign interests." Exactly what the threat may be is never made explicit.
On October 7, 2001, the United States launched its invasion of Afghanistan called obscenely, "Operation Enduring Freedom." The attack, and following 9-year war that continues to this day, was preceded by endless propaganda justifying the war as a defense against the "threat" of the Taliban, Bin Laden, and terrorism against American "Freedom," and way of life. The fact the invasion of Afghanistan was already in planning stages as early as
June of 2001, was not included in the propaganda.
The rhetoric concentrated on the horrors of September 11, 2001, when 19 Muslim nuts hijacked four commercial airliners and flew them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and would have flown the fourth to Washington, DC if the brave passengers and crew had not tried to retake control of the plane which crashed in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The death toll was over 3000, including the citizens of over 90 countries.
The nineteen suicide terrorists were all from Saudi-Arabia, as is Bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda leader who is the supposed planner of the September 11 terrorist attack. Whatever Bin Laden's actual part in the attack was, it is known that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was captured in Pakistan in 2003, was perhaps the true architect of the attack. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a Kuwaiti.
The original plans to invade Afghanistan, before September 11, were to push back the Taliban which it was feared would take over Afghanistan. After September 11, it was still the Taliban that was the target, but the reason given was that they harbored Bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda operatives. The invasion of Afghanistan could now be put over as defending the United States form the terrorist threats of Al-Qaeda.
No one noticed the supposed threat was not Afghanistan at all, but a handful of individuals using Afghanistan as a base, and that most of Al-Qaeda was elsewhere, like Germany. But when the object is to promote a war, facts are the last thing one is concerned with. What matters is whatever will stir up the people with patriotic fervor that will induce young men and woman to "defend their country," whether their country is in any danger or not.
The despicable Taliban has been a very useful object of the war propaganda. There is no doubt the radically Islamic Taliban is oppressive and cruel, and pictures of their "police" beating women, and stories of their homosexual abuse of boys, their beheading and summary executions worked mightily on the imaginations and emotions of Americans. If the invasion of Afghanistan could eliminate those vermin it would be a favor to the whole world.
No decent person could understand what the Taliban is and not be revolted by the thought that such creatures exist in the world. But they are not the only ones. Does their existence justify an invasion by the United States? Then what of Africa?
Rape, especially of children, is a
continental pastime in Africa, so the
rape of over 240 women, girls, and children in one village in the Congo hardly makes the news, much less fomenting a nation-wide move to invade the country to save those women. There are horrible people doing horrible things all over the world, all the time. If the United States takes on the task of ridding the world of all the horrible people in it, the task will be endless and futile.
There is only one thing that can justify a war, ever, that is defense against a real and direct threat against an entire nation. There is no such threat today. No war the United States is currently engaged in protects a single citizen of the United States. If Al-Qaeda, or any other radical Muslim organization chooses to stage another terrorist act on American soil, and is able to accumulate the resources, no current military action, and nothing the draconian Home Land Security agency is doing will stop it.
Propaganda and Obfuscation
The description of the War in Afghanistan only touches on one aspect of the deception by which such wars are promoted and put over. The aspects covered are:
1. Some supposed threat, usually ginned up or exaggerated is used as the justification or "necessity" for the war.
2. The threat is almost never to the, "people," though there may be a remote threat to a small fraction of the people, such as a terrorist attack. Terrorist attacks are not carried out by other countries, however, though wars are always against other countries.
3. The threat, if there is one at all, is to the government and its agencies, not to the people,—to the military (which is usually where it has no business being), to the, "troops," or "our foreign interests," (that is, the interests of the government), for example.
4. Sometimes the threat is not a threat at all, but some made-up government principle like the perceptions of the "enemy," that "America is weak."
5. The "enemy" is always painted in the worst light possible, as despicable, cruel, evil, and uncivilized. This is frequently true enough. The horrors of Nazi death camps, the horrendous atrocities and mistreatment of prisoners committed by the Japanese, the vicious inhuman cruelty of the Taliban are all true. If none of those things are being done to American citizens, none, on their own, justify a non-defensive war.
6. The appeal is always to patriotism. The language is meant to excite one's patriotic fervor "love of country," defending "American freedoms," "the American way of life," "American liberty."
7. The stronger version of patriotism, is it's negative side. If you are anti-war in the United States you will be painted as anti-American, (which reveals what such people think being American is). Opposing war is "failing to support the troops fighting for you." Pointing out the horrors of war "dishonors those who have died to give your freedom." (If they died for that, they wasted their lives, because there is no longer freedom in the U.S.)
The biggest part of war propaganda today, is not so much promoting war, as it is obfuscating what it is, hiding its true nature and never allowing anyone to look too closely at it.
When I responded to
an article about "Capt. Dale Goetz of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., ... one of five soldiers killed by an improvised bomb," with "where are the pics," I was excoriated as, "unfeeling," and being a "ghoul."
I did not bother to explain the reason the response of others to the article amounted to nothing more than a moment of sympathy for the chaplain's widowed wife and three children, and no mention at all of the other five killed, and none of the outrage this pointless death really deserved, is because they don't really mind the deaths so long as they don't really have to see them.