How most wars could be eliminated
The Civil War would not have been fought had Southern soldiers—most of whom did not own slaves—realized that they were doing the dirty work for disgustingly unethical wealthy slave owners evil enough to think they possessed a right to own other human beings. Many wars follow this pattern: rich people get others they consider scum to fight to maintain or increase their wealth.
Marine hero General Smedley Butler eventually came to this realization, saying that he finally figured out that he had spent most of his time “being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it.” Butler is the author of War is a Racket.
Years ago, I thought the United States was as pure as the wind-driven snow. I wholeheartedly believed what our leaders wanted us to believe: that we are the good guys and our enemies are evil. Sometimes they are, but the truth isn't as simple as many of us would like it to be.
Decades after he served as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, Kissinger still is so close to the people who wield power behind the scenes that anybody who wants to be somebody in politics trots off to meet him. Even Sarah Palin did this in 2008. Kissinger has obviously been instrumental in shaping American foreign policy, with enduring influence that transcends that of Presidents, most of whom just fade away. Now ponder this: if the United States were as good as our leaders say, why would one of the most powerful ones say that military men are just “dumb, stupid animals to be used” as pawns for foreign policy?
Kissinger's statement evinces contempt for soldiers who he views as sheeple so dumb and stupid that it is easy to pull the wool over their eyes. A pawn is a person used to further the purposes of another, usually unwittingly. That's where “dumb” and “stupid” come in: it's easier to fool such folks.
Yes, but why the need to fool them? Now we're getting to the heart of the matter: because the United States is not as good as George W. Bush wants us to believe, nor are our enemies as universally bad as the fairytale conceptions go. Moreover, whatever evil they harbor resides primarily in their leaders and Machiavellian elite. Average men and women in other countries don't spend their days dreaming up ways to kill foreigners and steal their stuff (the usual motivation for war); instead, they focus on what we focus on: working, feeding our families, paying our bills, maintaining our homes, and having a bit of fun now and then.
Like a malignant cancer that spreads from one cell to kill the entire body, Hitler's crazy ideas about Jewish people infected other Germans with nutty ideas they otherwise would not have had. Hitler was truly an evil influence, but he is not unique. Emperor Hirohito of Japan presided over a country whose leaders convinced average men to do terrible things. They invaded other nations, seized their natural resources and other property, killed men, women, and children, and committed crimes against humanity that surpassed what Hitler's monsters did. Japanese war crimes were greater in number and shockingly brutal, such as raping women and then spearing their vaginas. Think they left babies alone? Think again. They were raped and slaughtered, too.
Japan was an ally of the United States during World War I. There was mutual respect and affinity, as there was after World War II. The only plausible explanation for this anomalous shift of opinion circa World War II was that Japanese leaders succeeded in inflaming their citizens, filling their heads with evil ideas they otherwise would not have possessed. Indeed, the common denominator of leaders is that they are master manipulators who know how to get others to do their bidding.
“Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”
— Hermann Göring, Nazi Party member and commander of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) during World War II, speaking to Gustave Gilbert at the Nuremberg Trials
Consequently, the need for most war could be eliminated by beheading the monsters through selective assassination, intimidation, or imprisonment. Instead of killing evil leaders like Saddam Hussein, we could achieve a much greater deterrent effect, serving as a stern warning to others of his ilk, by placing them in an Evil Dictator Zoo, where anyone (admission would be free) could make their lives as miserable and humiliating as they wished, as long as they did not kill or injure them. Keeping them alive as long as possible would give the heebie-jeebies to maniacs such as Kim Jong-il, Supreme Leader of North Korea, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran. Though twisted, their brains are sufficiently intact to realize, “I could be next.”
Smart, creative people can think of myriad ways we could selectively target evil leaders, killing them or populating the Evil Dictator Zoo, without targeting their nation's property and people, who bear the brunt of defensive reprisals. For example, by killing Hirohito, Tōjō, and others who led Japan into war, there would have been no need to incinerate Hiroshima and Nagasaki, firebomb Tokyo and 66 other cities, or conventionally bomb countless others. There would have been no need for our flamethrowers, napalm, guns, knives, tanks, and ships because, without their wicked leaders egging on common men to do uncommonly heinous things, they would have kept doing what they were doing: going to work, going home, eating, and playing with their children.
The contempt that Kissinger has for the intelligence of American military personnel almost certainly extends to the population at large, many of whom have a reflexive rah-rah support of our military and foreign policy objectives without first carefully analyzing them and asking whether we could achieve necessary goals at much less cost (in dollars and human suffering) to both sides and often innocent bystanders.
Commenting on Kissinger, the Wikipedia said:
“Christopher Hitchens, the British-American journalist and author, is highly critical of Kissinger. In The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Hitchens calls for the prosecution of Kissinger 'for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture.' [...] Since he left office, numerous efforts have been made to charge Kissinger personally for the perceived injustices of American foreign policy during his tenure in office. These charges have at times inconvenienced his travels.”
Clearly, some people think as little of Kissinger as he does of us, but he is just one of many elitists who infect the world with their ideas: some good ones, but others that have helped perpetuate conflict instead of ending it. Without evil leaders, and leaders who respond to foreign threats in ways calculated to augment their power, wars would not be fought. Grievances between nations would still exist, but to the extent they were recognized, people would just grumble about them, as they do about other inevitable beefs such as taxes, without going postal. However, most grievances between nations wouldn't enter the average citizen's radar screen of anger. What pisses off average people is rarely what folks in other nations are doing. Instead, it's their boss, noisy neighbor, or the spouse they share a bed with.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize what is wrong with the world. It is not the common man, for all of his flaws and imperfections; it is the leaders who lead common men astray. Leaders infect common men with their wacky ideas, persuading them the world would be a better place if they'd go to war instead of going to work. However, leaders would get nowhere without common people willing to do their bidding. Those folks are not dumb and stupid but distracted by the myriad things that fill their lives, thereby preventing serious thoughts from filling their minds. Average men and women are also taught to respect authority and to follow their leaders, but leaders often lead them down a path to Hell.
Too many of us are figuratively asleep at the wheel, letting leaders do the driving for us. Anyone who likes the destination is indeed dumb and stupid, so the solution is obvious—at least, for those of us who are thinkers.
I have an ambitious goal: to eliminate or at least minimize war. In future articles, I'll present ways to effectively immunize populations from their susceptibility to war. If no one is fighting, no one is dying, and no one is suffering as a result.
Money spent on war enriches companies that provide goods and services to armed forces, but the net economic impact is decidedly negative. That is not surprising considering the destructive nature of war. If those losses were eliminated and the money spent constructively, the world would be a much better place. Not a Shangri-La, but much closer to it than the current world.
As a doctor, I've seen what war did to men (my time in a VA hospital was spent in the years before women sustained combat injuries). Current television commercials depict service men and women coping with war-related amputations, blindness, brain injuries, and depression, but some of the combat injuries I saw are too gruesome to be televised, and the stories behind those shattered lives are too heartbreaking to hear without having them sear into one's psyche.
Why are so many leaders so pugnacious?
Because they're nuts. That's not just my opinion, by the way. Here's an excerpt from Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?:
“… the mythical image of a “leader” embodies many of the characteristics commonly found in personality disorders, such as narcissism (Steve Jobs or Vladimir Putin), psychopathy (fill in the name of your favorite despot here), histrionic (Richard Branson or Steve Ballmer) or Machiavellian (nearly any federal-level politician) personalities.”
Most average folks are too plain-vanilla boring to stand a snowball's chance in hell of being elected to a major office. It should be utterly obvious by now that our leaders are NOT brimming with bright ideas. In fact, they pat themselves on the back for dreaming up ideas that are shockingly stupid and as counterproductive as slitting your own throat. What leaders often have going for them isn't supreme intellect and great ideas but mental disorders that amplify their charisma because most people are suckers for ego when it oozes in abundance. More from Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?:
“… we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence … manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential … groups have a natural tendency to elect self-centered, overconfident and narcissistic individuals as leaders.”
We see these narcissistic nuts, fall for their B.S., and vote for them because average people are followers, not leaders, who want to be led, so we assume that candidates dripping with confidence have good reason to have such big heads and presume they are competent. Wrong! (Need proof? Just look at how the USA is crumbling: markedly faster than the Roman Empire, which declined over four centuries.) I elaborate on our susceptibility to looney leaders in Better dead than Red?
Psychology researchers say that war is not inevitable. Common sense tells us the same thing. Take away the nutty leaders circa World War II, and what's the chance that ordinary folks would have become so mad at foreigners they rarely thought about they would stop working, leave their wives and children, and march off to war? Zero.
Clarifications & notes:
- War Is Not Inevitable; Psychology Research Should Promote Peace based on Bringing science to bear—on peace, not war: Elaborating on psychology’s potential to promote peace
- To stave off inevitable criticism, please note that I am not an apologist for Japan. My commentaries on their war crimes manifest my contempt for their barbaric actions. See my articles on Japanese war crimes and Hirohito: the war criminal who got off scot-free.
- Most rich people are not evil. Most obtained their wealth not by stealing from others (as some people suggest), but by producing products and services that many people want. It's that simple.
“The Gettysburg speech was at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history … But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it! Put it into the cold words of everyday! The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination—"that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth." It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.”
— H. L. Mencken
- “We're at War!” — And We Have Been Since 1776: 214 Years of American War-Making
- Think our leaders have superb ideas? Try listing them.
- The 'Good War' Myth of World War Two
- How Tradition and Tribal Courts Can End War
- Time Bomb: Military Ordnance in Gulf of Mexico Poses Threat to Shipping, Says Expert
Comment: It's not just military ordnance in the Gulf of Mexico; the toxic byproducts of military activity are virtually everywhere, including in you. Shall we go fight another needless war?
- 8 striking parallels between the U.S. and the Roman Empire
- Book: Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America