Let’s be gloriously optimistic and suggest that war of any definition comes to a sudden and abrupt end tomorrow. What would be the outcome?
Face it, like any organism of which conflict is no different, it must be fed, it needs replenishment as do all organisms. It digests and expels. Well, in war, things get destroyed, blown up, etc.. Therefore it creates a need; the necessity of a supply-chain to replenish that which has been lost or expended.
So where does this material come from? Who manufactures these specialized tools of conflict?
It does not take a leap of faith to suggest that ONLY developed nations of the world have the manufacturing and technological capacity to produce the diverse and robust cornucopia of military hardware to meet the insatiable digest of war in all its diverse forms of conflagration.
The challenges the proposition of ending militarism through the ending of development and procurement of military hardware in all its configurations spanning from nuclear to hand-held guns and their bullets has been duly addressed by the Department of Disarmament of the United Nations by its 1989 report titled: Study on the Economic and Social Consequences of the Arms Race and Military Expenditures. It was prepared `in response to mandates of the General Assembly, on the economic and social consequences of the arms race’. It is a comprehensive examination of the socio-political and economic impacts the arms race has for both developed and developing nations.
The findings of the report on such a complex matter are not easily summarized in this essay and therefore for those truly interested seek out the report to be found here: UN Report
However, of the many, the following conclusion effectively conveys the intent of this essay:
‘164. The complex relationship between disarmament, development and security has been thoroughly explored in the Final Document of the International Conference On the Relationship between Disarmament and Development, as follows:
“Security is an overriding priority for all nations. It is also fundamental for both disarmament and development. Security consists of not only military, but also political, economic, social, humanitarian and human rights and ecological aspects. Enhanced security can, On the one hand, create conditions conducive to disarmament and, on the other, provide the environment and confidence for the successful pursuit of development. The development process, by overcoming non-military threats to security and contributing to a more stable and sustainable international system, can enhance security and thereby promote arms reduction and disarmament. Disarmament would enhance security both directly and indirectly. A process of disarmament that provides
for undiminished security at progressively lower levels of armaments could allow additional resources to be devoted to addressing non-military challenges to security, and thus result in enhanced overall security.” ‘
This conclusion leads to the obvious question: Why is this recommendation not constructively pursue?
Unfortunately, part of the answer resides in the same report which also concludes:
“172. The present study shows that military expenditures have extensive social and
economic consequences. Economic effects are most pronounced in leading military
spenders, and in particular in those areas of their economies which are dominated
by modern science and technology, which is a key factor in the present arms race.”
Since the invasion and conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq commencing in 2003 and now predominates most of the Middle East and North Africa, the style of war has dramatically altered from `field war’ as was fought in the Second World War and even Vietnam to some extent; to an `urban war’. Urban wars are fought amidst civilians often held as shields by terrorist elements. In this latter situation, the enemy combatant is often difficult to differentiate from their civil surroundings making the instance of innocent lives, collateral casualties to the conflict.
This all said what seems to be overshadowed is the fact that whether an organized battalion of trained, professional military personnel or `ragamuffin’ informal, untrained terrorist groups; they all demand a steady flow of material and armament to sustain their position in battle.
At present the terrorist groups such as Al Quida and its cohort: ISIS, ISIL, IS (Islamic State) pose formidable resistance to western allied nations’ attempts to end their brutal assault and advancement leaving the slaughter of countless innocent citizens in the wake of their push and capture of territory throughout Iraq and in Syria.
What is difficult to understand, as evidenced by nightly media reports of the conflict, are the parades of ISIS combatants (terrorists) in lines of Toyota pickup trucks, at times in the hundreds. Too, the thousands of their kind equally attired in black uniforms armed with similar weapons. Though this organization is defined as a terrorist organization, they appear by all accounts, to be organized, military army battalions.
So who is supplying them and why are these chains of supply NOT the first line of attack by western allies? By cutting off the chain of supply and starving the enemy into defeat.
This brings the discussion full circle forcing the question: Do the powers-that-be who reap the DIRECT financial benefit derived from the expenditures of military conflict in any of its conflagrations, desirous to see the end of such conflict and, the assured decline of their future prosperity in `blood money’?
It is difficult to conceive of individuals who are willing to see innocent lives lost both in the theatre of battle or far removed, such as has just happened in Paris, for the sake of power of position and politic derived by enrichment through production and sale of arms and technology but, history clearly speaks to this being the case.
Again to quote the UN report on disarmament:
“The ending of the arms race and the achievement of real disarmament are tasks
of primary importance and urgency. To meet this historic challenge is in the
political and economic interests of all the nations and peoples of the world
as well as in the interests of ensuring their genuine security and peaceful
The report published in 1989, it is now 2015: what is the true and real impediment to this becoming a reality any time soon?