Thursday, 11 January 2007

2:3 Is a war the best way to attain your ends?

A great poet once wrote:

Take up the white man’s burden,
The savage wars of peace,
Fill up the mouth of famine,
And bid the sickness cease.

There is much food for thought here. You are indeed fighting ‘the savage wars of peace’, so savage that peace is an almost unimaginable outcome, and the savagery is beyond belief. And it is indeed the ‘white man’s burden’, the burden of white, Anglo-Saxon, protestants and all the gallant people’s of the West, whatever their colour. You must not flinch from accepting that burden, from taking on the mantle of the white Empire of Light, the successor to the great Empires of the past. You must once more go forth as the soldiers and missionaries did in the past, the warriors of the civilizing process.

Yet we have to admit that we are less persuaded by the next two lines. They suggest a way of fighting the wars and shouldering the burden to which we have always paid lip service, but been less interested in as an effective way of dealing with your problem.

It is true that the world is full of hunger and poverty and even of famine. Several million died of famine in one unreformed communist power alone in the 1990s. But in that case, you sensibly let them starve rather than give in to any weak idea that to feed or raise the sanctions on them might have shown your generosity and earnest friendship and hence defused tensions.

It is true that millions die unnecessary deaths from tuberculosis, malaria, dysentery and now AIDS. It is obvious that unspeakable suffering from preventable diseases, from blindness and many other conditions could be hugely reduced if you wished to spend even a small part of your wealth on research and medicines, rather than on weapons of war. Yet, you do not take this course, which could damage the west’s pharmaceutical industries and divert precious funds, and might even make the disease racked population a threat to your supremacy.

Jesus rightly suggested that the poor would always be with us. He didn’t actually say it would be a good thing if they were, but some might see a tone of approval here, and your religious orders have always glorified poverty (or at least for others). If you’re to be rich and powerful in this resource-scarce world it is perhaps a necessary evil that the majority of the world should remain poor. It certainly inhibits them from buying the tanks and aeroplanes and other weapons which would seriously threaten us.

So the current strategy, which is to spend billions (500 billion dollars a year on ‘defence’ in the U.S. currently) on military approaches, spy satellites, intelligence, imprisoning and other methods, and to use almost all your energy, time and thought on this, seems right. It is right even if the famines, diseases, terrible housing, gruelling work and general misery of half the world’s population cannot be seriously addressed. Remember that you’re not social workers or philanthropists. You are fighting a war against the Evil One. You may occasionally pledge to commit ourselves to alleviating the misery in parts of the world. This is a useful gesture. But, of course, you don’t have the time or resources to follow through seriously on this.

There are naïve people who say that you should try to understand the causes of the radical attacks on us. They innocently suggest that if you tried to deal with ignorance, poverty, misery, hopelessness, people might hate us less. They seem to think that you have the time to work at the deep roots of injustice and inequality. But you do not have the times, nor the plans. You need sensational, fast, short-cuts.

The wishy-washy idealists seem to think that you could correct the inequality of the world without losing something, which is clearly unrealistic. If you were to give the other half of the world which lives on a pittance even a part of your wealth to bring them up to half the average consumption of the west, you would have to make drastic changes to your way of life.

You would have to economize, eat less meat, drive smaller cars, turn down the air-conditioning, have less weapons. So you would have to give up civilization as you know it. You would have to treat these other people as equals, as humans of the same level as us, instead of as a rather miserable inferior species. Even if you seriously wanted to do this ourselves, how could you possibly sell the idea to your populations?

Furthermore, there is little glory or even political capital to be derived from trying to solve the problems of world poverty and disease. They are worth ideals no doubt, but who wants to be like the Scandinavian countries with their large overseas budgets and zero political power, boring philanthropists with unmemorable rulers? No, what you must do is to chose the path of war, taking the battle to your enemies.

For you must remember that all this talk of the ‘roots’ of attacks on us being the miseries and injustices of the world is a smokescreen. What these people hate is not that they are poor, but that you’re rich. They want to drag us all down to their own level. They hate what they call your materialism and overblown consumerism, what they call your ‘Coke and McDonald’s’ culture. They hate your open society (though perhaps they would hate it less if they knew how much you secretly censor and put pressure on dissident thought).

These enemies hate your freedom, for example the freedom of your women to compete in a man’s world on roughly equal terms. They hate your youth-culture, the huge consumption of alcohol, the rapidly increasing use of drugs, the pornography and open sex. They hate your endless pursuit of bodily pleasures, your obsession with money, your philistinism as they see it, your gambling, your obesity and your waste. Their hates are deep and irrational, just as were those of the poor mumbling witches with their irritating requests and malevolent, critical, eyes.

No amount of helping them to get decent schools, jobs, hospitals, food and clean water would affect this hatred. So it is not worth trying this approach. Concentrate on the bombs and bullets, on walls and high technology defences, and the kingdom of heaven will be with you.

The final misapprehension is that you want to win this war against terrorism. Christ’s battle with Satan never ends. If it were not this war, it would be another. When the Evil Empire of Communism posed a real threat, you knew where you were. For a few confusing years after its collapse you seemed to have won. One famous thinker with the big American intelligence agency the RAND corporation even wrote a book on ‘The End of History’. The war was over. Capitalism had won. He did not seem to realize what this would do to western economies whose main export and wealth now came from fighting. So, economic (and social) disaster loomed.

Although some have disputed its reality, the ‘Report from Iron Mountain’, which is on the internet, sets out cogently, if hypothetically, why the end of war would be an unacceptable disaster for America. If you do not know this forthright and realistic account of how America cannot afford peace, you should look at it.

Fortunately Satan chose that moment to launch his next attack. Now you have found an even better foe who can never be beaten. The more you throw ourselves against Him, the more, hydra-headed, He grows. Redouble the efforts, man the defences. Fight the good fight with all your might. There is no time for remorse, there is no alternative to the Christian battle against the Empire of Evil.

1 comment:

Gabriel Andrade said...

Lovely references to Kipling and Fukuyama without mentioning their names, such rhetorical devices are always nice.
Certainly, many war supporters echo Montaigne's famous short essay, "the gain of one man is the loss of another". Count me in as one of those "idealists" that believe it is possible to gain things without losing others.
But, once again, I ironically do share some of Sprenger and Kramer's points of view, regarding Islamic opposition to free open society. I do not think "Coke and Macdonald's" culture is a sea of happiness, indeed, it has easily lead to alienation in the Marxist-Marcusean sense, but I certainly don't feel it worse than Shariah Culture.
As for "hating not because they are poor, but because we are rich", I think one must not leave aside from consideration the fact that the emotions of ressentment and envy do exist, and not solely on a psychological level, but in international relations as well. Back in 1999 Venezuela had massive natural disasters, and Hugo Chavez' government refused to accept any help from America or Europe. Many leaders here in Latin America see philantropy as an extension of the White Man's burden, and therefore, a colonialist practice that must be rejected. I think much the same goes on in the Middle East, but even more intensely so. Their reasoning goes along these lines: "the West is, above all, infidel, and we were superior to them back in the Middle Ages. To accept help from Scandinavia is to acknowledge their superiority, and non-Muslims can not achieve greater things than Muslims".