See For Yourself, The Coming War

Photo by Steve Knutson on Unsplash

To me, the oddest aspect of war is that once they’re started, people put little effort into ending them through negotiation. Indeed, war can become a way of life. The Peloponnesian War ran from 431 to 404 BC, 73 years. Many Greeks lived their entire lives at war. So it was for us a few generations ago and so may it be for our children.

By 1914 most men believed it likely they would see battle. After 1918, they may have felt a brief period of calm which would be broken by the depression of 1929, a short 11 years later, then war again. Life between 1914 and 1945 was not good.

I’ll go farther. A person born in 1914 would have to wait 65 years until the Great Wars and the Cold War started to fade from memory.

Did I learn this from reading history books? Yes, but I didn’t need to. There are no happy stories from my parents, about their parents, or the generation before. Also, my parent’s generation, post WWII, did not seem happy to me, not by a long shot. They seemed emotionally scarred from their parents’ ruined lives. I was born in 1961. I wouldn’t say that America seemed a happy and safe place until the 1980s.

The baby boomers were the first generation who could live in a truly peacetime world. That doesn’t mean there weren’t wars, only that no one expected they’d have to go fight them. For example, the draft was never seriously considered for the Iraq wars.

When life started to get better, in the 1980s, I heard about the people in middle America who were losing their jobs to Asian workers. I wondered if it would one day become a problem. Then the tech revolution began and their plight was forgotten. America moved from manufacturing to services. Life was good, at least it looked so in the cities. I seldom went anywhere else. Why would I want to?

Now, in 2018, I see Asians everywhere in the cities buying condos and luxury cars. Where did they get all that money? From the people they sold their goods to, in the previous decades, of course. As a capitalist system, we are supposed to be happy with increase competition. Asia allowed us to get goods that are cheaper than they were in the 1970s. It allowed us to move into a services based economy. I was certainly happy!

Everything is great, until one ventures 60 miles outside the city centers. There, in plain sight — miles and miles of economic wasteland that only gets worse. Today, how many of these people would rather take their chances in a tank in Southern Asia?

Is there another solution for the disenfranchised of the U.S., of the World?

Goods are not getting cheaper. Most factories are outside the States. I can’t see the U.S. building factories to compete because the cost of building them would make their goods more expensive. Therefore, I see no change in where things are made in the world.

Tariffs can raise the costs of goods made elsewhere which would theoretically allow the U.S. to build factories that can make goods at the same price. But only at the same, now higher, post-tariff price. Again, in theory, it could offset the higher price of the goods by the jobs it creates. However, if that can work now, why wasn’t it done in the 1980s?

Today, if the U.S. is successful in building factories to make higher priced goods (for Americans who would supposedly get a higher paying job to pay for them) then non-U.S. factory workers the world over would be out of a job.

If you’re working in a factory in China, how would you feel towards your customers in the U.S.?

If you take any two groups of people, whether a group of families, or nations, and one group can be faulted for making life miserable for the other, you have war. You can’t negotiate feelings of being wronged away. That is painfully obvious from the 2016 selection. History shows that the majority of a population doesn’t care how many people die. (We can see this public callousness presently with the Saudi Arabia/U.S. war against the Houthis in Yemen).

Put another way, “Make America Great Again” also means “Make Asia Weak Again”. How long before our new economic war with Asia becomes a military effort somewhere, somehow? That’s the path I see before us.

I see it with goods that I buy, with parts made in China, becoming more expensive. I see that with the trade war. I see it with the South China Sea military bases China has built because they feel threatened. I see it with the way China attacks companies who call Taiwan an independent nation in their marketing brochures. Most of this has been growing long before you-know-who.

The Military Industrial Complex is Real And Is Must Be Fed

There are two things the wealthy don’t want in their backyard. Drug addicts or bomb makers. That second part may surprise you. Visit any major wealthy city and look for a weapons maker. They are out of sight, hundreds, if not a thousand miles away. Why would highly-educated city people think or talk about an industry they don’t see?

Give this some thought. Half your Federal taxes, over 50%, go to military spending. For every 10 dollars you earn, over one dollar goes into, what is essentially, bomb making. That doesn’t sound high does it? Look at it this way, it implies that one out of every 10 U.S. citizens works in the war industry.

Is half the news you read about defense issues? No. Do you believe all the weapons that are made live out their lives in a warehouse?

Again, I don’t want to get lost in the weeds. The point is that every citizen pays for military power which is mostly out of the public eye and conversation. How would you know how much ISIS is a true threat and how much it is an excuse to scare certain people (like countries with oil) into obeying U.S. orders? What is a true threat anyway?

What we do know is that we need high employment. The simple truth is people need jobs. Defense spending is an efficient way to keep 1/10th of the population busy. Drugs also keep a large number of people employed, from social services to law enforcement.

You have a large part of the world making weapons. You have another large part angry and bitter, with no hope of economic progress. Then you have the bulk of wealthy people living in cities obviously to both.

How would you know how close the U.S. is, to war? To this day, do you believe you understand what really happened, to start and continue the Iraq wars?

If you believe that what you don’t know can’t hurt you, then the history of War becomes a simple record of random acts of violence.

The World over, the wealthy have not found a fix to the discontent, anger and bitterness borne of income inequality. The internet is serving to inflame these emotions. The hope that it would help communicate and resolve differences has become a farce. The news is completely un-objective. Both left and right, it is a war-mongering machine, which I believe future history books will treat as obvious, though not obvious to us in the here and now.

It’s very simple. The people in the cities are at war with the people outside the cities. This is the same in the U.S., Europe and China. Because they probably won’t fight each other directly, both will find an external enemy to vent their anger. We already did it with Iraq. With Syria winding down, who or where is next?

In 1928 everything looked great for humanity. Electric Lighting! Appliances! Cars! Radios! Planes! Medicine! New technology didn’t prevent war then. Indeed, it helped kill people in larger numbers than previously possible. Look at today, air technology has allowed us to flatten the Middle East (again, creating millions of migrants) with hardly any effort!

If you’re read this far I feel I will go out on a limb with a prediction.

A proxy war will begin between Asia and the West. Maybe Venezuela with China on the other side. The U.S. and China will never go to war directly. But they will find a way to vent their people’s anger. The same happened in the Peloponnesian War, in all Wars. History likes the big concept. In my view most War is just a collection of individual conflicts which are later fitted into a coherent narration. Russia will try to remain neutral, an arms dealer. I really don’t know what happened.

I only know, beyond my city experience, that the number of angry people and weapons is building.