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ON THE CAUSES OF WAR: SECURITY v COMMERCIAL


There are plenty of theories and writers from AJP Taylor, Fischer, and so many, who have brought and discussed many different causes, minor and major, of warfare throughout the history. These theories are just that, one person viewpoint from his/her perspective (e.g. an elitist theorists will state a theory from a sympathetic elite point of view; the marxists, on the ”little people”, the functionalists and structuralists on the functions and structures of global relations and so forth. As J.S. Mills once remarked on his essay ‘On Liberty’, there is a shred of truth in all false statements). Here, I am moving away from these ”parts of the elephants” theories on the causes of wars, to the general two major poles of warfare; the ”National Interest” and ”The Commercial Interest”.

Charles Tilly, a famous sociologist, once noted the inseparable nature of societies and wars, and it is this, seemingly natural co-habitation of wars and society, that is mostly responsible for the most ‘moral’ aspect of the casus belli. Clausewitz emphasised this through his triad structure of the People, the Military and the Political Leadership (he goes on to break these into more macro-analysis, not relevant to us, here). The point all these and historical analysis in supporting them provide us with, is that, at one end, the moral and necessity of wartime, causes of war, is the order of the national interest, i.e. national security and survival. The ”parts of the elephants” theorists, will point to the ”non-fixed variables” in play, such as, the arm races, the treaties, the ‘security dilemma’ and the likes.

Now, there is the other end of the spectrum, the peacetime, unnecessary ”war of choices”, these are always, and I state always, with confidence, to be in the interests not of the state security or survival, but rather of the ”web of interactive commercial interests of military-private industries (as Eisenhower once warned). These wars move away from Tilly’s model and ”natural bond” of society and wars, as well as, that of Clausewitzian Triad system, seeing the replacement of the ‘people’, with the ‘private commercial sector”. It is this phenomenon which always sees the disintegration of society as a whole with the military-ruling class in peacetime wars; seen correctly by the former, the public, as wars of private interests and not public/national interest. This feeling is very harmful to internal and external relations for states practising this approach, as sooner or later, the constraints of the inter-relationships come to critical point of breakdown with unforeseeable effects.

This is what has been happening since the end of the WWII, where, the absents of ‘national interest wars’, have seen the growth of ‘commercial interest wars of choice’ on behalf of private companies (from banana wars, gulf wars, to Eastern European wars, war on terror (conceptualised to justify ad jus bellum of Afghan War, hence, still a lot of disagreement), and at the present, the ”Lawrence of Arabia Wars”, as I call these present Middle-Eastern conflicts, since they depict the similar narrative around the original T.E. Lawrence activities in the Arabia in the nineteenth century, of ‘regime changes’ in support of one tribe/group, with pro-western character).

What this article should inform and warn is, we, all should look out for the coming ‘point of breakdown’, from the two major ‘protest groups’, the public and the military establishment, against the ‘ruling elites’, made up of the political classes and ‘commercial’ classes.

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About s.s.salim: Geopolitical Analyst

Political & Strategy Defence & Security Intelligence & Communications

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