T Nation

Why war is inevitable - an unusual view

OK, let’s try again.

Here’s a proposition sure to stir up some hornet nests.

A war with Iraq is inevitable exactly because there is so much opposition to it.

Restated, the opposition to a war can be the key factor in starting a war.

Is that difficult to wrap your mind around? Well, let me explain.

If we take as a given the fact that a particular leader is a threat or has violated a treaty (admittedly, some of you will debate the hypothesis and evidence) then it should be evident that there are both practical and moral obligations among the world community to punish him/her and take the necessary actions to eliminate a threat. If the entire world community aligned behind the necessity to take action, including a possible war, then the bad guy would see that the only possible outcomes were either capitulation or destruction. Assuming the bad guy and the rest of his regime are not suicidal, the only acceptable outcome would be capitulation. Universal agreement on the willingness to go to war makes the actual war unnecessary! Now that’s what I call diplomacy!

Unfortunately, we don’t have universal agreement, and we don’t even really have majority agreement. Under these circumstances, there are more possible outcomes, including victory for the bad guy. Why capitulate if victory is even a possibility? The answer is that you don’t capitulate; you continue to lie, bluff and outlast the people who can’t make the commitment to oppose you. When they tire out, you can do whatever you want.

Of course, eventually, the bad guy will push people over the edge and those people will commit to a war thousands of time larger than if they had made the commitment earlier. As the saying goes, “you can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”

Fortunately we have some world leaders who are students of history and know how this works. George is one, and Tony Blair is another. You see, the British made the same mistake not long ago in historical terms.

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, so I’ll present a little refresher course for people who slept through class. In 1936, Germany, under you-know-who (because I know how people
hate direct comparisons), decided to throw out the Treaty of Versaille because Germany just didn’t like it anymore. You-know-who decided to try to see what he could get away with, and marched German troops into Alsace / Lorraine and retake it from France. Pacifism was the order of the day. World opinion was that it was no immediate threat and he was unopposed. The British in particular said all he did was “march into his own backyard.” Naturally, the French mounted no opposition to the taking of their own land. You-know-who later even admitted that they could have thrown him out of the Rhineland with very little effort and his political career would have been over. Instead, he stayed, and grew in power due to that bold success. The English came to regret their pacifism as a few years later England and the entire world became embroiled in a war where millions died, all because of that bit of pacifism and lack of commitment a few years earlier.

I’m glad Tony Blair, among others, is not going to commit the same mistake.

So the next time you listen to a war protestor, you can remind him/her that he/she can “pay up now, or pay up later.”

It’s odd that people keep saying we don’t have the majority on our side when we actually do.
The focus is on the UNSC, where we won’t get an idea as to how some countries will swing until the final vote is called for. With all the waffling on which way some votes will go, it’s not necessarily a good barometer to follow. Besides, the UNSC has different countries in it than last year, which is why support for the resolution shifted.

France and Germany took a stand against the U.S. and expected most of Europe to fall behind them. Didn’t happen. European public opinion is against an Iraq war, but for the most part, their governments are supporting the U.S…
Add the numbers up respectively and you’ll get: 21 - For the U.S., 6 - Against the U.S., 6 - Neutral.

Your political lesson for today. There won’t be a quiz, however I would like everyone to study up on this over the weekend. Shugart, I’d like to talk to you after class about not throwing spitballs at MBE and would someone please wake up Nate Dogg on the way out. :wink:

Interesting take.

I am glad you wrote this post. T-men should be smart about why they support the fight against evil AS WELL AS have the balls to want to do the right thing BEFORE its too late…not afterwards. The liberals/democrats are really pissing me off…
I cant concieve of a liberal being a REAL T-MAN!


What?? Oh, I’m awake Professor Jaster

I just zoned out for a minute when you went on your tirade about war and politics and history. Sorry, I don’t pay much attention to that sort of thing.

Zoning out again…

I think the comparison to post WW1 Germany is a valid one, I’m glad to see that other people think that way.

Any comparison with Hitler is pretty shallow & opportunistic. When Hitler was in power, Germany had the biggest national defense budget of any country in the world & Germany was the 2nd most powerful/influential. Iraq is something like the 40th-most-powerful nation in the world & Hussein can’t really do anything anymore. The USA has already won.

Say, I am sorry, but I cannot let your twisting of history pass without comment. ACCOUNTING FOR ITS DISALLOWED BUILDUP, Germany was a powerful nation that spent a huge sum on military (to call the German spending at the time “defense spending” seems a tad laughable). Hitler came to power in the wake of the short-lived Weimer Republic, which saw hyperinflation and a very weak German economy, and negligible military spending. Hitler increased that spending and ramped up industrial production – mostly with military spending, if memory serves me correctly.

In fact, that’s precisely why this analogy holds some water – it’s about stepping in and stopping a problem while it is in its nascent state of development, rather than letting it escalate to a larger scale matter. Larger problems require more painful solutions. In the Hitler case, Chamberlin et al decided to go the appeasement route. First they ignored the military build up that was disallowed under the Versailles. That was the original appeasement that fits best with this analogy. Then, despite the fact it was then clear Germany had built up its military prowess and was belligerent, the appeasers continued to overlook German territorial aggression. Of course, while they were covering their eyes and pretending that if they appeased Hitler he would go away, he had entrenched and prepared for conflict – he had modernized his military and devised attack strategies. This is one of the reasons he completely overran Europe in the beginning of the war, until the Allies could similarly ramp up their militaries.

Now, it’s not a perfect analogy. However, look at the news today. The delays that we have incurred by attempting to work through the U.N. Security Counsel – prompted by the intransigent French – have allowed Saddam to booby-trap his oil fields, position his missles and forces in such a manner as to best defend himself and likely attempt to rain missles down on Israel, and even, apparently, to hatch a plan to clothe his military personel in U.S. and British uniforms and have them both commit atrocities on his own people as well as cause confusion among our forces. These delays will cost more U.S., British and allied lives. That is no small consideration.

Okay, so the theory is that if the dissenters would have, or just would, follow in line, we could avoid a war altogether or possibly a much larger war? I agree that this is quite a strong theory, in that the threat of greater violence will keep someone from doing something stupid, but I don’t think this would be useful or right in practice.

First off, the theory may be slightly flawed, because even if threatened by a larger group of nations, a ruler could still decide to go to war. Right now, without the rest of the world supporting the US, it appears that this would be Saddam’s last dance. While the likelihood of him wanting to enter war would be less with full UN opposition, it wouldn’t be zero either.

Also, should the dissenters just change their mind on what is right because more nations believe war is necessary? In this case, they believe (for whatever reason) that war, right now, and possibly at a lot of points in the future is not justified. How can we justify to them that killing less people now will save more lives later when they do not think that war itself is a necessity? And let’s not make this about just this situation. This situation (US v. Iraq) is just an example, but to analyze a theory, a larger picture must be looked at.

JaredNFS makes a very good point. Of course we can’t make dissenters fall in line, but I think they need to understand how their dissent truly affects the outcome. It doesn’t have only the short term effect of preventing a conflict, there are later repercussions of avoiding the necessary. (Yeah yeah, this is all predicated on the assumption that it really is necessary.)

The problem is that very few people can think in systemic terms. Only the immediate effects are visible and the time delay disconnects the cause and effect in most people’s minds.

(Actually, I think that’s why so many people are obese; they can’t see the long term effects of their negative actions AND they can’t see the long term effects of any positive actions. That’s another thread.)

It’s also very hard to see effects that are negated. A few hundred riske their lives now to prevent a few million deaths later. But how do you prove that?

The only way to understand the true cost of a war is to spend the cost by not having it.

Is’nt it time for some jughead to attack this thread for being thoughtful?

The comparison to Hitler is apt…

…“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think”

~ Adolf Hitler

Yeah, where are the jugheads? I figured the premise would incite a forum riot. Do you think that maybe the idea made sense to them?


i suspect we’re all just tired of political debate about now.

Just a heads up.

Hitler re-militarized the Rhineland in 1936, Alsace-Lorraine remained French until the war.

I do not think current events have much in common with WW2 and its causes and effects. But I do think that there are marked similarities between current events and the causes of WW1, with September 11 2001 being roughly equal to the assassination of the Crown Prince to the Austrian throne in 1914. In that both were acts of terror, both triggered alliances, which resulted in worldwide conflict.

I guess you can argue over what the real causes of WWII were, but my point of view is that the set up is very similar.

  1. Country loses war, country doesn’t like the sanctions, country ignores the sanctions (Germany in '36, Iraq in '03)

  2. Rest of world is too damn lazy and unwilling to do anything about it (both '36 and '03)

  3. A couple years after '36, a madman gains strength, goes on rampage and millions die. A couple years after '03… what? Are you willing to wait to see if history does repeat itself?

The difference this time around is that a few people actually remember history and will try to do things differently. I hope they get it right this time.

There have been some really insightful and interesting debates on this issue in this forum. This bullshit about Bush toppling the “next Hitler” isn’t one of them. Wake the fuck up to what’s really happening.