Tuesday, March 24, 2009

War and Democracy

I recently had a political conversation with a colleague who subscribes to the peacenik argument that corporations create wars, and that if we all just put down the guns and hold hands around a camp fire singing koombaya, the world will be a better place. It was a friendly debate, and his argument did hint of Karl Marx and the theory that if you eliminate class you eliminate war because all war is bred from class struggle. The poor/oppressed are justified in terrorism or armed insurgency because they are revolting against the evil deeds of those who have acquired wealth. To a limit, I agree that war is a byproduct of the desire of man to acquire things. Be it land, food, wealth, whatever.

Having said that, do I believe that socialism is the magic wand that can eliminate violence in the world? Not for a minute. I believe that the need in man to acquire resources and power is a basic animal instinct that you can never eliminate by drawing up a clever idea on a chalk board. We are animals. Look at the entire history of Homo Sapiens, and civilization is just the little blip at the end of the timeline. What one thing is constant in the recorded history of what we call civilization? War as a means of acquiring resources. I'm not saying that is a good thing, I'm simply pointing out that Halliburton did not convince Alexander the Great to conquer Persia.

I want to live in a world without war. While I may concede that under certain circumstances war is the best course of action, that doesn't mean that I jerk off watching bombs exploding and people dying on television. What I believe is that the megalomania, kill anyone and everyone to accomplish preconceived goals is advantageous from an evolutionary perspective in many regions throughout the world. In the Congo, Sudan, Myanmar, Somalia, the Middle East, being fucking crazy and ruthless is more likely to attain regional power than being a philanthropic pacifist. Have all the ideals you want in Rwanda, but it was the faction that had the best weapons who attained power.

We endeavor to rise above that in the "civilized world", but how do we deal with the people who revert relentlessly to their animal instincts and engage in the least civilized behaviors? Sanctions? Those tend to hurt the most the people they are intended to help. Get a United Nations consensus? Well modern history has proven that the League of Nations can rarely agree on what to do, and when they do it is more likely to fail than succeed. Remember those elections they held recently in the Congo at a cost of several billion dollars? Yeah, how did that work out?

In the Western Democratic model, we have something which is reasonably functional. There are flaws in the financial system and society in general, as we struggle to suppress the morally compromised gene. I suppose when you break it down to basic human instinct in a Game Theory matrix, it requires less effort with a greater reward to be a Bernie Madoff, and steal from hard working people than it is to do the leg work and succeed in such a way that does not take advantage of other people. Like Warlords in the third world, it is easier to raid the village next door and steal everything they have and rape their women than it is to work the land, raise crops, run businesses, and try to get laid with modern chivalry.

In our civilized society, the overwhelming majority of people are deterred from scrupulous business practices because even the small probability of incarceration prevents us from breaking the law to attain wealth. The best we can do is set up checks and balances to catch the criminals, as we can't completely eliminate crime. The notion that socialism will eliminate crime is a dream, as the act of punishing success and rewarding failure shrinks the size of the pie of which we are all competing for pieces. In the uncivilized world, there does not exist the consequences to reduce criminal behavior, and yet we endeavor to live in a world where evil does not exist and we all abide by a basic level of humanity. What NATO did in Bosnia perhaps provides us with a construct for how to deal with insane tyrants.

Many of us can likely agree that political stability is a precondition to economic prosperity. Such that if you want to eliminate ethnic cleansing in Darfur, is the solution to slap them on the wrist and impose sanctions? Or is the solution to use military force to replace the government? There is always a downside to using military force to impose Democracy, but what other means exist to force a corrupt, arguably evil regime to change their ways? Say what you will about Republicans and what they did in Iraq, it got to a point where the hope and change candidate won the next election, and now the new Obama regime is in power. If a regime in say Myanmar, the Sudan, the Congo, Somalia, or a number of others attained power by brute force, can anything other than brute force either set them straight or replace them from power? Or would we rather not engage in conflict and just allow those millions of innocent civilians to suffer under maniacal rule?

It is a slippery slope to be sure, and at this moment in time nation building is very unpopular. Though, Iraq recently had peaceful and successful elections, which the media seems content to ignore. Will that government be functional in the long term? Only time will tell. What I do know is that we are programmed with animal instincts, and the least civilized nations personify that. I see similarities to chimpanzees on the discovery channel. You have two "tribes" of chimps adjacent to one another. Every so often, a group of male chimps muster a raiding force and invade their neighboring territory. They set out to raid whatever food their neighbor has, kill the babies, rape the females, illustrating the same animal behavior of our human brethren in the Congo.

As I see it, one of the greatest advances we made in the Western world is women's rights. It has added nurture to our nature, and has thus reduced our predisposition to warfare. How can we aid the advancement of feminism in Africa, in the Middle East, and in other countries where alpha male behavior inhibits their prosperity and peacefulness? I say kick the shit out of them, but please, if you have a better idea, I'm all ears! Regardless of the Third World, if we eliminate nuclear weapons, disband armies in the West in an attempt to make the world a more peaceful place; that simply reduces the consequences of the next Adolf Hitler from acquiring the resources of his neighbors by force if he decides to do so. To me that is like saying that eliminating the RCMP would reduce crime in Canada. If we did so, I believe the opposite would happen.

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