The necessary costs of endless war; further criticisms answered
Before we end, it may be helpful for you if we directly face some further criticisms and nagging doubts (Factual Questions and Answers, FQA).
By arming your friends are younot filling the world with weapons?
It is an unfortunate fact, which you will have noticed, namely that your friends are fickle and not to be trusted. They appear to be on your side, so you generously give them of your best, your latest weapons, training, chemicals to make biological agents and so on. They switch sides and become your enemies. We do not need to rehearse cases, for this is so common, but a recent dramatic one was in Iraq where you armed Sadam Hussein for years to fight Iran and overlooked with generosity his gassing of the Kurds, as friends do. Then he traitorously refused to bow to your demands and became a threat, or so you alleged.
The trouble with this fickleness would appear to be that each time it happens, it floods the world with more weapons, some of which can be used against us. It appears to make the world a more dangerous place. On the surface it looks as if you are throwing petrol on the very fire you proclaim you are trying to put out.
This criticism is based on a misunderstanding. As the old saying goes, give a man enough rope and he will hang himself. By scattering chemical agents, tanks, rockets, splinter bombs and other weapons around you give lots of nasty regimes and groups enough rope to hang themselves. It gives them enough power to make them sufficiently noticeable and threatening so that you can pounce on them. Without these weapons they would just mutter in their caves and secretly plot your downfall, and you would never know where they were. By giving them weapons, you get them to come ‘over-ground’ as it were and then you can engage with them.
It also helps to persuade your own populations that the war is real. If they knew how vastly unequal the resources are as between us and your foes, they might baulk at further taxes, infringements of what they call their civil liberties and inconveniencies. But if your enemies really can blow things up and have ‘credible’ armies, then, as long as it does not get out of hand, your warning of imminent attacks are believable.
Anyway, if the anti-arms lobby gets too excited there is the well known argument to put them down, namely that if you do not supply the weapons, someone else will. Better you do so than the North Koreans or Pakistanis or even the cheese-eating French. At least that way you keep some control, and you make the profits.
Of course, your critics may say that you should put an effort into trying to make an enforceable international agreement about the arms trade. That sounds on the surface like good sense, but it would clearly not be in your interests. It might save millions of lives at a general level, and even make the world in general a safer place. But what about your economies? Modern weaponry is very high tech. Youare very good at making these things. No one wants your cars, your fridges, or even, soon, your computers. But they do want your advanced radar systems, your missiles, your night vision guns, your ‘smart’ weapons and uranium-enriched shells. If you gave up your last advantage in manufacture, what would you do? It is unthinkable.
That such activity will provide untold wealth for your friends in the arms industry and hence donations to your great cause is another pleasant spin-off. Indeed, it is a central part of the strategy. After the fall of communism, the huge war machines which you had built up no longer had a purpose. In your resolute and brave struggle you had devoted much of your science and energy to weapons manufacture. You had left the goods of peace to others. If there was no continued war, other nations would soon overtake you and you might become poor and weak. No longer could you be the saviours of civilization. To encourage your weapons programmes, you need perpetual fear and small wars.
Indeed encouraging an international arms embargo is as unthinkable as previous suggestions along these lines. When Christian nations were exhorted a few hundred years ago not to make or distribute previous ‘state of the art’ weapons in the name of love and humanity, for instance the deadly cross-bow or gunpowder weapons, they took no notice. The infidels might ban or strictly contain gunpowder if they liked, as the Chinese (who invented them) and the Japanese (who banned them in the seventeenth century) or the Islamic nations did. But look what happened to them! They were easy meat for the Christians when you destroyed the pride of the Ottoman Empire, the haughty Chinese in the Opium Wars, the resistant Japanese when your black ships threatened them and helped in the 1850s to start the process which would topple the Shoguns.
Stick with the weapons, sell what you can, make sure that you keep the best ones for yourselves, but make what profit you can. And follow the trails which the weapons will lay down until they lead you to the lairs (for they are animals) of the Evil Ones. If they do not hang themselves with the rope you provide, do the job for them.
Is there not a serious danger that this everlasting war will bankrupt you?
It is sometimes alleged that however worthy your crusade against the Empire of Evil, your activities will bankrupt your countries. This is indeed a difficult objection for there is some force in it.
Looked at objectively, many people note that America is heading for economic catastrophe. It is pillaging its own resources (social security), like a famine victim sucking up its body-fat. It is borrowing an extra billion dollars a day just to keep from bankruptcy. If China and Japan, for example, called in their American debts, the American economy would collapse in a few minutes. America is like a great oil tanker (a nice analogy) which is heading for the rocks and however hard it turns its rudder or reverses its engines, it will crash within a few years.
This situation can plausibly be linked to the huge proportion of the American expenditure that goes on “defence” ($500 billion a year) and “intelligence” ($35 billion a year) expenditure, including keeping large armies occupying other countries. To such critics, America seems to produce not wealth, but negative wealth or “illth” (as Ruskin called it). It is rapidly ceasing to be the major producer of ‘goods’, but rather the major producer of ‘bads’ – machines for destruction and killing.
This problem is thrown into stark relief if you compare it to its rivals, particularly in Asia; India, South Korea, Malaysia and above all China are now producing the goods. Within the next few years they may well outclass the west in the production of almost all ‘goods’, even computer software it is alleged. They are now producing goods of a very high quality, cheaply and in great volume. They are busily manufacturing, making and selling things that people want, while the war on evil, your critics suggest, is skewing your economy towards short-term conquests, but long-term catastrophe.
Your critics sometimes point to the eighteenth century in Europe when the great predatory war machines of Spain and France were ultimately defeated by the productive burst of wealth creation in Britain. Or they make an analogy with the battle on the Eur-Asian continent. For a while the advanced war machine of the Mongols could control most of Eur-Asia. Predation on others was the most effective way to wealth and the marauders were the rulers. In the end, however, it was the wealth producers who won and the nomadic warriors were marginalized. This is what your critics say of you. And it all seems rather plausible. How should you answer?
Firstly you should remember that it does not ultimately matter. If your populations are ruined, the economy collapses, the rust belt expands, the jobs migrate elsewhere even more rapidly, your oil supplies dry up, all this is the price you have to pay to fight for God’s kingdom. There are many precedents. The gallant Empire of Spain was ruined and collapsed into insignificance in a similar way fighting for God’s Catholic Empire against the heretics and evil threats perceived in the Reformist sects. It was praised at the time. Christ’s kingdom comes first, and people’s carnal passions second.
Furthermore, the current bonanza will see you and your children out, with luck. It is your grand-children’s generation who will bear the brunt of the disaster, if there is one, and that is not your business. And even if there is general meltdown, your own grand-children should be alright, for being in power at present gives you golden opportunities to build up wealth so that your own family can accumulate large fortunes and salt up reserves for the lean years ahead, as can your friends.
Another thought is that perhaps there is still hope that predation can win out. Let India, China, Japan and the rest soil themselves with the hard manufacturing tasks, the grubby money making which your university educated sons and daughter no longer want to do. Let your own children learn how to predate on the new wealth through more sophisticated tools, Wall Street, law, international banking. Set yourselves up, as Britain has done, as a country which produces nothing but ‘invisible’ goods, heritage and financial services.
This can be combined with the other forms of predation. If you have a monopoly of the advanced war technologies you could operate a sort of ‘danegeld’ economy. When the Vikings needed funds as the leading warriors of their times in Europe, they did not even have to attack their neighbours – they turned up in their boats and were paid off with ‘Danish gold’. You do not need gold, but huge loans, preferential treatment in other’s markets for the few goods you still do make, protective tariffs against foreign imports, all help. Being nuclear superpowers bring all these blessings in their wake.
There is another indirect economic benefit in pursuing the perpetual war on evil, as the previously mentioned ‘Report from Iron Mountain’ explains in detail. Your countries are increasingly filled with what sociologists call rather pompously ‘the under class’ (though we prefer to use the folksy term used by you and your friends privately, ‘trailer trash’). That is to say a growing army of Hispanics, blacks, poor whites; badly educated, unprotected, paid very little – the sort of people you see doing the menial work in your airports, garbage firms and hospitals.
Other civilizations which have had such a debauched, ill-behaved and hopeless under-class have either enslaved them, put them in the galleys, or sent them off to their colonies. All these options are running out. No-one wants them and they are of little use to you. So the final solution, which has so often been successful in history, is to enlist them in the army and navy.
They are then subjected to discipline, taught loyalty to you, made to feel that killing on your behalf is a worthy cause. They may even earn their keep by being stationed in other people’s countries and the oil revenues or other wealth from those countries can pay for them. ‘Living off the country’ is an old expedient with armies, and it is something you are clearly experimenting with.
Anyone can see that it is better to spend the money on building up your military capability rather than the pure waste of social security. So cut social security, medical care, education and so on to the bone, and put the money into the military. The only problem is that to persuade your electorate, if you cannot bribe and misinform them in other ways, a justification is needed.
That is why, again, it cannot be stressed too much that it is so fortunate that the Axis of Evil has re-appeared. There was a real crisis in the 1990’s when the Star Wars (Son of) programme, the Nasa programme, and all the huge military expenditure looked ridiculous and people were calling for huge cuts. They had the misguided idea that the money could be used to educate, improve health, train people for making things. Until you had a new world war to fight, it was difficult to argue with them. Now that the ‘war against terrorism’ has replaced the Cold War, those critics can be silenced.
Of course, as we admitted above, it may well be that in the longer run this is not a good strategy. It is almost certain that within a generation or two, the Christian nations will have sunk back to a second position again. Yet it is your tradition to go out into the final battle with all guns blazing. Better a bang than a whimper. Defeatism is not acceptable. They used to say ‘Better Dead than Red’, the same is true in another form today. With Christ on your side, perhaps something will turn up.
Could not the huge expenditure be better deployed to save rather than destroy lives?
At first the argument that if you are sincerely trying to make the world a safer and happier place there must be a better way than bombs and torture seems attractive. The cost of an average ‘invasion’ might be put at, say, a minimum, of two hundred billion dollars. Two or three of these would provide clean drinking water for most of the world, help to eliminate some of the major diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, build good health and educational systems throughout the Third World, help to combat famine in Africa, bring the appalling civil wars in many parts of the world under control.
This is a specious argument, however, for while all of that may be true, it is beside the point. What good does it do to Christ’s kingdom if you stop thousands of people suffering if they are heathens? What good is it if they still fall into the snare of the Devil? What good does it do for your personal wealth, power and status?
Furthermore it won’t cut much ice with your arms manufacturers, the poor blacks who need jobs in the military, those who want to secure your power abroad. If you had been in the do-gooding business, you would have joined a charity like Oxfam. Your business is power and the spread of God’s word. So let us not get deflected by sentiment. Did the Crusaders go around fighting the plague or improving the water supplies of the heathen? No, they spread the plague by firing dead bodies into enemy castles, they poisoned the wells and blew up the water supplies. Regrettable, perhaps, but necessary.
Of course, when you have bombed your way into an infidel country, there will be the possibility of lucrative ‘reconstruction’ contracts, to be paid for partly by your own taxpayers. But do not hurry into this work. If it is all done too quickly, there will be no need for your personnel to stay around. Span it out, let things continue in a half collapsed state, so that the profits of reconstruction last for years. Remember that all the profits can go to your supporters and will further Christ’s wonderful work.
How is it that the trouble continues even when you kill their leaders?
One difficulty you face is that many people increasingly realize that Evil is now headless. In the old days you got rid of a Napoleon or Hitler, and the other side surrendered. Now you get rid of the head of one of the godless cells of the enemy, or even the Head of a rogue state such as Saddam Hussein, and the trouble continues apparently unabated.
This was our experience with witches, Jews, heretics and others. We could burn, assassinate or imprison the ‘ring leaders’, but the ring went on. Of course this is officially built into the old Maoist version of the previous Axis of Evil ideology, the communist cells. In the revolutionary war period, people were deliberately prevented from developing a permanent command structure and were then able to act even if their local commanders were liquidated. The same seems to be happening in the godless uprisings in Palestine. It is a great trouble. The old days of ‘Take me to your leader’, and then shooting him, are over.
On the other hand it can be a blessing in disguise. For it ensures that the war against terror can never end. It can never be ‘won’ since there is no-one who can speak for the opposition. Every witch, every heretic, every member of a Satanic cult, can act as a sole trader, as it were. It is a great co-ordinated conspiracy, but also a very loose and individualistic network of individuals who can act alone.
This, of course, presents other dangers. It means that all previous barriers, all quarantining, all missile defence systems, all visa checks are largely a waste of time. A single individual can board a plane and force it to fly into a power station and release nuclear fuel. So most of your actions which purport to protect your populations are, as you must know, a waste of time and money. But as we have explained elsewhere, they are necessary both to show that you care for your people and are trying to do something, and to keep your population in a constant state of fear.
So do not be disheartened. Everyone is a potential terrorist, the fight is endless, Satan is everywhere. Be eternally vigilant, but don’t ever expect to win the war on terror, even if, in order to keep your people’s hope up, you say it is winnable and indeed being won.
Is it not strange that Christians should be so aggressive?
At first sight it might seem paradoxical that the spear-head (note the metaphor) of the Crusade against Evil should be Christian nations, often led by devout Christian leaders. After all, as our adversaries point out, Christ himself preached peace, exhorted people to love their enemies, to turn the other cheek if they were struck, to forgive those who sinned against them. Some Christian sects such as the Quakers have taken this literally and practice pacifism.
Yet this paradox is easily overcome if you look at what Christians have done, rather than what Christ preached. Like its major adversary Islam, which also has a strong strand of brotherly love in its teachings but is also in part a desert warrior religion, Christianity had tended to be a religion of the sword. It preached non violence and peace in the early days when it was weak and subject to the might of pagan powers. Yet once it was in control, it recognized that Christ’s message could best be spread by combining the pen and the sword.
We don’t suppose that you will need to do more than draw your attention to a few of the facts. The crusades were full of blood and vengeance and massacres perpetrated not just by Christians on infidels, but also on other Christians, as in the sack and slaughter in Constantinople by the Third Crusade as part of Venice’s expansion plan.
Europe itself for the five hundred years from about 1200 onwards was full of Christian princes constantly at war with each other, using the most savage weapons they could command. The ‘Wars of Religion’ in France, and the Thirty Years War in Germany are just two long and bloody periods. Catholics against Catholics, Catholics against Protestants, Protestants against Protestants, and all of them against Muslims. There was constant military activity which contrasted very strongly with the long periods of peace in some of the Eastern non-Christian Empires such as China and Japan.
The slaughter in Christ’s name reached a new level when the Holy Catholic Church turned its sword on the heathens in the newly discovered lands of America and the Pacific. Millions were killed by the sword and disease, innumerable cultures wiped out so that God’s will could be done and the great Christian kingdoms could benefit from the riches of ancient civilizations.
Of course a few liberals of the time lamented this rape of the third world in the pursuit of Christ’s glory and the wealth of others (which fortunately went hand in hand). One of these was Montaigne. He did not see that we were justified in our actions and bizarrely suggested that we might have pursued a different approach.
‘How easy it would have been to turn to profit minds so fresh, so hungry to learn, which had, for the most part, naturally made so good a beginning! On the contrary, we took advantage of their ignorance and inexperience, to bend them more easily to treachery, luxury, avarice, and to every kind of inhumanity and cruelty, by the pattern and example of our manners.’
He then proceeds to lament the consequences. ‘Who ever set so high a value on the utility of trade and commerce? So many cities razed to the ground, so many nations exterminated, so many millions of people put to the edge of the sword, and the richest and most beautiful parts of the earth turned upside down, for a traffic in pearls and pepper!’
Of course he is right about the destruction, but wrong in his estimation of both the motives and the necessity. It was not just lust for goods, but also to bring their souls to Christ – if necessary by destroying them or, as you would say, ‘regime change’. Furthermore, what other way is there? We had God on our side. We needed their wealth. No one could stop us. It would have been immoral just to be passive and loving.
So your actions are in a great and glorious crusading tradition. Love and kindness and forgiveness are all very well in their place. But as another religious warrior, Oliver Cromwell, well put it ‘Pray to God and keep your (gun) powder dry’. Do not waste too much time and energy thinking about alternatives.
All that we would suggest is a small change. Perhaps, as your tanks go blazing into the cities of infidels, or your planes fly low and burn up villages with napalm or its modern equivalent, perhaps the deafening music that the soldiers and airmen listen to on their headphones to drown out the screams or the doubts might be altered. At present it is heavy rock music which anaesthetizes. It might be better to have stirring martial music, perhaps jazzed up, but with more mission directed lyrics. How about ‘Onward Christian soldiers, onward as in war’ or some such? And for the classically inclined things like Handel’s ode ‘Our God is a God of War’.
One great advantage you have is that now the boundary lines are clearer. When Christian slaughtered Christian in the trenches of the First World War, or fire bombed Christians in the cities of the Second, it was a bit messy. But now there is, as current jargon goes, some clear blue water between the sides. Most of the Axis of Evil are non Christians. Indeed, that is almost part of their definition.
So you need have no compassion. They are damned already, heading for Hell because of their unbelief. If you destroy their leadership and let in your economic and other missionaries, perhaps a few will be saved. God’s glory be with you. Onward Christian soldiers, with the Cross of Jesus going on before!
What if all of your policy is based on a delusion sent by Satan?
This may come as a shock to you, but some of the doubters and critics of your war on terror have gone so far as to suggest that it is not your enemies who have been deceived by Satan, but you yourselves who have wittingly, or unwittingly, been seduced by him.
They say that ‘by your fruits you shall know them’ and that the fruits of your belief suggest Satan’s hand rather than that of Christ. They especially point to bombed cities, to tortured prisoners, to the neglect of real suffering in many parts of the world, to your opposition to international courts of justice, your breaking of international law and the undermining of the United Nations.
They suggest that the huge fortunes made by your friends, your encouragement of the centralization of power, your lavish lifestyles, your campaign of spreading fear and imprisoning your enemies, all suggest that you are not the solution but the problem. They say that if Satan exists – which many of them have the temerity to doubt – He has captured you.
This is obviously monstrous, but you will be comforted to know that such scandalous charges have been made before. Again and again the Holy Father in Rome was satirized as the Anti-Christ by his opponents. They pointed to the same things; his opulence, the decadence and debauchery of many of his priests, his onslaught with fire and wrack on apparently innocent people, his Holy Wars and his intolerance. They said that all this showed, as it does in your case, that he was the Anti-Christ and that both his, and your, message, if heeded will lead us into the fiery furnace.
As we have explained elsewhere, all these allegations rest on a misunderstanding of your noble and pious motives and an over-concentration on the outside or semblance of things. The same was true of the Papacy. The Papal attack on women, obsession with sexuality, condemnation of vice in public but indulged in private, and many other things gave an outward show which the critics could grasp. But we know that the Holy Fathers were God’s appointees on earth, as you are now, and that they could do no wrong – as you cannot.
So just brush off these calumnies and accusations. They are hardly worth answering. If you attempt to do so in too much detail you may get into an unprofitable muddle since they are very devious people. Just continue to assert your sincerity, your honesty, your trustworthiness, and make sure the media support you. If they do not, stamp on them. He who controls the media, controls the people, as the Papacy also knew – hence the index of prohibited books. The Holy Father is still with us and hopefully your reign will also be eternal.
How can you bear the ingratitude?
One of the crosses you have to carry, and one which Christ also bore, is the people’s ingratitude. Remember his experience. He was giving his life and work for them and then, in his hour of need, they chose a thief to be released rather than him, and shouted at him and scourged him. This may be your fate, though hopefully you will not suffer physically and you should salt up ample reserves on the way.
You will already have faced the jibes and jokes, the impugning of your sincerity and honour. You will know that the majority of your population do not trust you, call you liars, say you are hypocrites, that you are foisting you own personal morality on the rest of us. Can they not see how sincere you are? Can they not see the depth of the Evil you are fighting? The ingratitude of it all.
We can only give you encouragement by reminding you of Christ’s suffering at the hands of his people, of the ingratitude of the British who booted out Churchill after the Second World War and, of course, there are many other examples. We know that you not only wish to terrorize and pulverize your enemies and pleasure your friends, but to be loved and seen as great saviours by your people. You are, like us, insecure and frail humans who need approbation and regard. We understand that. But I’m afraid you may have to choose.
The pursuit of power is a lonely business. You can surround yourselves with sycophants and courtiers. You can ensure that the press and television are muted or crushed. You can bring out the flag-waving crowds as Hitler did. But you cannot conquer the inner hearts and minds of your subjects, however hard your press. You cannot force them to love you for making them into your slaves, terrified and divided.
This is a bitter truth you will need to face. It was well expressed in a book by that infidel Montesquieu. In terror of the Inquisition, he anonymously published his Persian Letters. In it he described people who are your predecessors, people who sought absolute power over their subjects. They wanted not just their people’s wealth and obedience, but their hearts and souls. But, at the end, Montesquieu describes how this is impossible.
Throughout the book the absolutist Usbek had been trying to break the spirit of the women in the harem. He believed he had at least achieved this in the case of his favourite Roxanne, whom he had raped into submis-sion. Then, in the last letter she writes to him as she dies from self-poisoning, she exults that all his oppression has failed. In the midst of tyranny, watched and guarded and punished, she has kept her spirit and soul free.
'How could you think that I was such a weakling as to imagine there was nothing for me in the world but to worship your ca-prices; that while you indulged all your desires, you should have the right to thwart me in all mine? No: I have lived in slavery, and yet always retained my freedom: I have remodelled your laws upon those of nature; and my mind has always maintained its independence.'
We should warn you that this may be your fate. Your enemies, even if you physically crush them, will not forgive you. The people from whom you take freedom and dignity in this great cause will not love you. The history books may well describe your actions as terrible blunders. They may describe your crusade as a disastrous turning point.
Yet you can rest content. You know what is right. The world is black and white. You are white, they are black. Do not listen to the seductions of false popularity, of the affection of your people, of the pleasures of making the world a seemingly better place. This is not a battle of a normal kind. It is a Holy War. The Crusaders did not try to earn the love of their victims. Go forth with Christ’s sword and leave history to the historians or, as Stalin nicely called them, the archive rats.
As for your grand-children and history in general, you can lift your head in pride. No-one will judge you as wholly evil. They may, as with Chairman Mao, give you as sixty per cent good, forty per cent disastrous, or some such. And can we ask more? They will never know the terrible choices you had to make, or the secret information which cannot be released which you say justifies your apparently strange behaviour.
When your grand-children gather round you in your old age and you show them the family albums, just show them the cheering crowds, the toppling statues of dictators, the headlines supporting your crusades. Make sure that the photos of tortures, gutted cities, looted museums, amputated limbs of children are safely locked away.
If occasionally you wake with sweat on your brow, seeing the fruits of your crusades with their mangled bodies and helpless eyes in front of you, remember these also are the tricks and temptations of the Devil. We know, for we have had our nightmares and doubts. Wars are not for the weak. It is too late to turn back. The Kingdom of Christ will assuredly emerge in the end and meanwhile we must suffer (and make others suffer) and strive.
We must end our very short homily here, for you are busy people. As Dominicans we end by blessing you in the name of our Christian God. Perhaps we can leave you with a stirring piece of poetry, a battle hymn if you like.
“… Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.
I've learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war starts
It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.
But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.
So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.”