Canadian Arab News
May 13, 2010
On the subject of war, Germany doesn’t exactly fare well in our culture. In fact, anti-German sentiment is integral to our shared past and our sense of ourselves. Every culture needs a mythic self-image to sell to its people and future generations, and our modern world defines itself by the defeat of Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler.
We associate the Germany of these men with war, injustice, destruction and cruelty. We, the Allies who defeated them, see ourselves as the epitome of peace, justice, progress and human rights. Each image is, of course, grossly simplistic and self-serving.
Great Britain, France and Russia—“the good guys”—were equally to blame for the escalating tensions that led to the outbreak of war in 1914. Had it not been for the greed, vindictiveness and stupidity of the future “Allies,” including the U.S., during the interwar period, Hitler would likely never have come to power.
A complete, uncensored treatment of the 20th century would find plenty of blame to go around. Such candour would go along way toward disabusing ourselves of the myth of Western democratic moral superiority, and negative German stereotypes, since there is much we can learn from the Germans about war...
The odds of such an enlightenment happening any time soon, though, are remote since our cultural mythology requires us to pay homage to the anachronistic symbols and quasi-religious trappings of The Great Victory over “evil.” The recent V–E Day commemorations in Moscow are such an example.
Nevertheless, such an enlightenment is urgently needed, because the stereotyping of Germany does more than nurture false memory syndrome; it has fostered an irrational belief that peace can be an instrument of policy, as well it has bred a dangerous disrespect for war.
Because of its association with Hitler and the Kaiser, calculated national war has been reduced to something “evil” that only bad countries commit. Yet war is not evil, and to pretend that it is forecloses any attempt to wage it properly or defend against an enemy. Thus it is that the “non-evil” Western armies are committing torture and other atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq, and losing wars they don’t know how to fight.
It was the great 19th-century general and strategist Carl von Clausewitz, who gave us the most valuable definition of war, most commonly, but superficially, translated as:
“War is the continuation of politics
by other means”
The full quote from Book VIII of Vom Kriege (On War) is much more powerful:
“The only source of war is politics—the intercourse of governments and peoples; but it is apt to be assumed that war suspends that intercourse and replaces it by a wholly different condition, ruled by no law but its own. We maintain, on the contrary, that war is simply a continuation of political intercourse, with the addition of other means…War in itself does not suspend political intercourse or change it into something entirely different. In essentials, that intercourse continues irrespective of the means it employs.”
To this I’ll add this quote from Book II: “War is not an exercise of the will directed at inanimate matter… In war, the will is directed at an animate object that reacts.”
For Clausewitz, war had rules and served a national political purpose. The logic and candour of this principle is lost on us modern democrats, who have anathematized the idea of war as an active instrument of politics. All acts of national violence are now justified in the name of national defence, which means the decision to go to war—and I’ll use that term loosely for the time being—is purely reactive, devoid of any rational political calculations.
|“The only source of war is politics—the intercourse of governments and peoples; but it is apt to be assumed that war suspends that intercourse and replaces it by a wholly different condition, ruled by no law but its own. We maintain, on the contrary, that war is simply a continuation of political intercourse, with the addition of other means.…War in itself does not suspend political intercourse or change it into something entrely different. In essentials, that intercourse continues irrespective of the means it employs.”
—Carl von Clausewitz, Book VIII, On War, 1832
The U.S. and its coalition of the clueless are getting their asses kicked in Afghanistan for this reason.
The official story is that the U.S. bombed and invaded Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Centre attack because the Taliban government would not surrender Osama bin Laden, whom the U.S. blamed for the attack despite having no evidence whatsoever.
The truth is that bin Laden was, and is, irrelevant. The U.S. wanted to overthrow the Afghan government solely because it would not let a U.S.-led consortium lay a pipeline across the country. The attack was an act of intimidation not defence. Well, it succeeded in changing the government, but nine years on, the U.S.-led imperial invasion force is still there. Now were told it’s there to rebuild Afghanistan, fight the Taliban and “bring democracy” to the Afghan people. Since when is that the job of an army?!
None of these reasons resembles an army, much less an enemy, that can be defeated. We are rebuilding a country that we destroyed; the Taliban is only an economic enemy; and exporting democracy is a noxious euphemism for subjugation.
We have no army to fight, and no defensible political objectives to attain. There is no war! Yet the killing, torture, destruction and abject stupidity continue, contrary to the national interest. Nevertheless, the press and our governments continue to go to great lengths to present the operation as necessary for peace.
If we compare our farrago in Afghanistan to the 19th-century military expansionism of Germany—Prussia, really—I see little reason to object to Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s limited wars of aggression against Denmark (1863), Austria (1866) and France (1870) to expand and consolidate Prussian power.
Our fetish with peace also inhibits our ability to recognize mistakes. Once we wrap ourselves in the mantle of noblesse oblige, it becomes difficult to leave without tremendous loss of face. At this point, war degenerates into an exercise in public relations fueled by delusions and sentimentality.
On April 3, a group of relatives of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, appealed to the federal government not to pull out in 2011.
“I don’t want him to die in vain,” said Myles Kennedy, whose son Pte. Kevin Kennedy died in a Sunday 2007 roadside bombing. “We came in to do a job. And our job will not be complete, if [the government] pulls out the whole group.”
This bereaved father would have the government send other people's children to die in Afghanistan just so he could feel better about losing his own son. As selfish as that sounds, it comes close to capturing the self-defeating insanity of modern warfare.
In Vietnam, the U.S. lost a 15-year war because its motives were entirely selfish. As I wrote in my book The Host and the Parasite—How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America:
“On Nov. 6, 1961, Asst. Secretary of Defense John T. McNaughton sent the following summary of U.S. war aims to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara:
“(a) 70 percent—To avoid a humiliating U.S. defeat (to our reputation as a counter-subversion guarantor).
“(b) 20 percent—To keep [South Vietnam] (and then adjacent territory) from Chinese hands.
“(c) 10 percent—To permit the people of SVN to enjoy a better, freer way of life. Also—to emerge from crisis without unacceptable taint from methods used. Not to ‘help a friend,’ although it would be hard to stay out if asked.
“When military force becomes its own justification…a self-destructive dynamic develops: The longer an insurgency goes on, the greater grows the threat to the U.S.’s ego; the greater the insult, the more violent the retaliation; the more violent the retaliation, the greater the insurgency; the greater the insurgency, the greater the ego investment; the greater the ego investment, the greater the insult; and so on.”
We have forgotten how to fight wars, because we no longer fight armies. We kill civilians indiscriminately, and invent invisible enemies like “terrorism” to justify mass murder in the name of self-defence, which brings me back to the WTC bombing.
Alan Sabrosky, former director of Studies at the Army War College, has found conclusive proof that Israel was responsible for the attack: “I have had long conversations over the past two weeks with contacts at the Army War College and at Headquarters Marine Corps, and I have made it absolutely clear in both cases that it is 100% certain that 9/11 was a Mossad operation…period.”
If we need a modern analog to Nazi Germany, we need look no further than Israel, which treats Palestinians at least as cruelly as Hitler’s Reich treated Jews, only it does it with our acquiescence.
The dichotomies—Germany, war, evil; Allies, peace, good—are all rubbish. A premeditated, co-ordinated attack on Israel would be an entirely justified and justifiable war.