Who benefit from wars?

By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee

The current war taking place in Europe on Ukrainian soil has, without surprise, been catapulted 24/7 into drawing rooms globally courtesy television and live streaming on social media. There is a surcharged overload of content. For the layman far removed from the ‘theatre’ of war, like us in tiny Mauritius, it is well-nigh impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff. As an aside, perhaps there’s some truth in the term ‘theatre of war’ which is often used. It may actually reflect a factual reality, namely that the actors who are on the stage, that is the soldiers fighting each other, are unwittingly playing a game which is scripted by others, the warmongers.

“Warmongers on both sides in Washington have been drumming up tensions. The military-industrial complex starts to make a ton of money. Who pays the price? – the American people, the Russian people, the Ukrainian people” — Tulsi Gabbard. Pic – Getty Images

As the saying goes, when elephants fight, it is the grass that gets crushed. Another way of putting this across is a post I read today bearing the name Erich Hartmann: ‘War is a place where young people who don’t know each other and don’t hate each other, kill each other by the decision of old people who know each other and hate each other, but don’t kill each other.’

We are not in a position here to evaluate, least of all to judge, who is right and who is wrong in the current conflict, for each side has its own arguments to counter those of the other, always a mixture of ideology and propaganda. As is evident from the semantics about it: military operation, liberation, invasion…? We can only share what information comes our way, remembering that there are nuances to the positions taken by the protagonists and supporters involved, but there are always at least two versions, one from each opponent or sworn enemy. A truism to remember in situations like these is one that is frequently heard, to wit that no country has permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests.

I found it more helpful to turn to one of the saner voices that has been heard, that of American Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat who was dropped out of the presidential race in favour of Kamala Harris. The latter benefited from the wave of sympathy in the wake of the BLM movement, which was swelled up by the narrative of her Indian ancestry deftly exploited, as was to be expected of a politician, and that has since been quickly relegated to the background. Notwithstanding, during a visit to the US after the elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had the politeness to meet her and the decency to invite her to visit India.

Tulsi Gabbard gave her support to Joe Biden, but has been consistently anti-war. This was evident from interviews that she gave on American TV in the run-up to the elections, as do other presidential candidates, where she described her painful experience during army service in the Iraq war. Every morning she was tasked to do body counts and organise transfer of body bags and the war wounded.

This is what she says in the post that is doing the rounds on social media: ‘Here is something that you will not hear on the mainstream media. What you do here is that warmongers are arguing that we must protect Ukraine because it is a – “quote unquote” – democracy. But they’re lying because Ukraine isn’t actually a democracy. For example, to hold on to power Ukraine’s president shut down the three TV stations that were criticizing him and his policies, imprisoned the head of the opposition political party that had come in second place in their elections and went and arrested and jailed that party’s leaders. This is exactly what Putin has been accused of doing but Ukraine did this all with the support of the United States.’

Continuing, she adds that: ‘First of all President Biden could end this crisis and prevent a war with Russia by doing something very simple: guaranteeing that Ukraine will not be a member of NATO. Because that would put US and NATO troops directly on the doorstep of Russia, which as Putin has laid out, would undermine their national security interests. The reality is highly unlikely that Ukraine will ever be a member of NATO. So why doesn’t President Biden and NATO leaders actually just say that and guarantee it?’

She queries why this solution which is ‘clear as day’ is not being applied, and she can only come to the conclusion that ‘they actually want Russia to invade Ukraine. Because it gives the Biden administration a clear excuse to levy draconian sanctions which are a modern-day siege against Russia and the Russian people, and cements this Cold War in place. The military-industrial complex is the one that benefits from this. They clearly control the Biden administration. Warmongers on both sides in Washington have been drumming up tensions. The military-industrial complex starts to make a ton of money. Who pays the price? – the American people, the Russian people, the Ukrainian people. This undermines our own national security…’

The military-industrial complex runs to the bank, and she has seen this from both sides of the House as a lawmaker and as a member of the armed forces. She is skeptical about the pretext that they are defending democracy, ‘their kind of democracy.’ An allusion to the allegedly staged overthrow of the democratically elected pro-Russia predecessor of the present incumbent who was replaced by a puppet pro-European one? So, underline some analysts.

Wars are foisted upon innocent populations by rulers of countries who are at odds with those of other countries. I say rulers and not leaders because the latter are usually wiser and have a larger vision of the well-being of their people and for the world at large. What we have mostly today are rulers, such as are found in dictatorships and autocracies, who run countries by diktats meant to frighten people into submission. In so-called democratic countries, which have been called elected dictatorships, people trustfully transfer their power to an elected representative as ‘leader’. S/he is at liberty to abuse of it during the mandate that the country provides for, effectively then acting as a ‘ruler’ by means of quasi-diktats. This is likely to be particularly the case when oppositions start to unearth irregularities in the elections, which a protracted judicial process tries to unravel. There is never any guarantee of a definitive outcome before the next election is due.

In other scenarios rulers make their respective countries acquire notoriety as belligerent nations, seeking to conquer territory in violation of international rules and conventions they have signed. The reasons for such behaviour include the securing of resources such as minerals which have great economic value, or belief in superior religious or political ideology. A friend of mine made the following comment: At least during the Greek period, every city could worship in their own way and there was no need to convert anyone to a particular belief set. Then came along others who said convert, either because we have the word or we have the word and the sword. Greek civilisation came to an end.

Since then, the world has been in constant turmoil and the drums of war have never been entirely silent. Is that why the saying came up that ‘Sīvīspācem, parā bellum’ – ‘If you want peace, prepare for war’?

When the Second World War was over, several wars have been fought because of two fiercely competing and antagonistic ideologies which are quasi-religious: capitalism and communism.

Sadly, the Ukrainian people are the ones who having to bear the brunt of this ‘either me or you’ model, which has conflict hardwired into it. Let us pray for them as well as for the fallen victims on the other side.

* Published in print edition on 4 March 2022

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