War: what is it good for?

The vast majority of people in the world don’t want war, so why do they keep happening? Curtis Daly explores war in this week’s Daly Report.

Video transcript

Tensions are rising again between the so-called West and Russia, with Russian troops on the Ukrainian border and politicians of all stripes clamouring to flex their muscles.

“They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt. It always ends the same” 

It seems like world leaders may be posturing and pushing us into another war, despite ordinary people the world over wanting peace.…. So, why does the threat of war never seem far away?

Conflict has been around since the dawn of time, and we can’t cover everything in one video, so let’s look at the more recent imperialist wars.

British Empire

Read on...

Let’s start with the British colonialist empire which began around the 17th century, with the first major colonies in North America and the West Indies.

Despite some wanting to tell us how good it was – clip ‘proud of British Empire’- It was in fact, a nightmare for the colonised.

The empire was created and maintained through exploitation and bloodshed. In 1562 John Hawkins was the Captain of the first slave shit that set for Africa. From the mid-17th century, 3.1 million Africans were captured and taken to the Americas.

As well as slavery, The British Empire was responsible for opium trading, concentration camps, famines and much more.

But what does this have to do with the wars of today?

Imperialism and war are intertwined. The British, and the west have always had a hunger for world domination and the plunder of resources. Yesterday it was the Empire, today it’s the war on terror.

The media and politicians quickly use the excuse of fighting against existential threats or coming to the defence of subjugated peoples, but that’s almost always a pretext. There are many other underlying factors.

Oil Imperialism

A Global Observatory study called ‘Oil Above Water’ found that:

Oil production and known oil reserves are central factors motivating third-party military interventions. More specifically, we demonstrated that the higher the quantities of oil produced and/or owned by a country at civil war, the higher the likelihood of third-party intervention.”

They go on to say:

in periods where world oil production is concentrated in the hands of fewer countries, civil wars in oil-producing countries are more likely to attract foreign military involvement.”

The quest for resources has always been a major driver of war, today oil is a primary one; natural gas, rare earth materials and water could be others.

Military Industrial Complex

“In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex”.

60 years later, despite Eisenhower’s warning, the Military Industrial Complex has expanded exponentially.

Twelve billion bullets are produced every year. That is almost enough to kill everyone in the world twice. Every day, thousands of people are killed, injured and forced to flee their homes because of gun violence and armed conflict.” – Amnesty

Just six countries export 80% of the world’s arms; Russia, China, USA, Germany, UK and France.

The value of the arms trade around the world is around $95 billion. Despite the humanitarian crises weapons obviously cause, perpetual war is incredibly lucrative for arms companies.

Ask yourself, is the driver of global conflict a difference of values, religious beliefs or political ideologies? Or is conflict manufactured to drive profits?

We often talk about western values, but what are those? The expansion of global capitalism by deposing democratically elected governments in favour of corporate profits?

What about the politicians behind wars, what are thier motivations?

Let’s look at Britain in the early 80s.

Many argued that the catastrophic defeat for Labour in 1983 was due to it’s radical left wing agenda with the ‘longest suicide note in history’, however what contributed to the defeat was the fact that the Labour Party split, and the Social Democrats and Liberals took millions of votes and a sizeable number of seats that gifted the Tories a win.

There was also another reason. The Falklands war. Thatcher before the war was the most unpopular PM since world war 2.

But the Falklands war proved massively popular, as the sound of war drums beating created sympathy and support from the general public.

Almost every Prime Minister and President has been enamoured with war because they know that war can be used to stoke nationalist fervour, create a common external enemy and so distract the population from their enemy at home: the ruling class. 

War: what isn’t it good for?

The United Nations estimates that 82.4 million people are currently displaced, many due to armed conflict.

According to the ACLED, 100,000 people died from the war in Yemen.

At least 350,000 were killed during the war in Syria

The invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 saw 46,000 civilians killed and 2.2 million Afghans were displaced.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2010 and 2020, as many as 16,000 civilians were killed from drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Only 1.5 – 2% of drone strikes hit their intended target, meaning 98% of those killed by drones are not the intended target, they are mostly civilians, deemed “collateral damage”.

There are also the half a million people who died in the Iraq War in what many call the biggest disaster in foreign policy history.

The bloodshed and misery that war creates in order to enrich the few, to elevate politicians and to continue the cog of the imperialist profit making war machine must end.

War, what is it good for? For the vast majority of people in the world, you guessed it, absolutely nothing.

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