The Politics of War

This is not, as it happens, a sequel to last week’s post–well, it might be thematically, I suppose, but it’s not really a series or anything.

So, I was surfing the ‘net, as they used to say in the days of my childhood, and I came upon an ordinary person’s review for Babylon 5, a TV show I’ve spent the past two weeks watching, and finished today. Expect blog posts on it.

Anyway, I read the review, and while the person generally liked it, they had some problems with the conflict between two of the races, the Narn and the Centauri, as the conflict is presented as sort of a “we just hate each other” sort of thing, and, as the reviewer put it, “wars are fought over resources.”

I thought about this for a minute, as it didn’t sound quite right. Then it hit me why–you don’t fight wars just over resources. (Also, that resources are not involved isn’t entirely true within the show–it’s just that the resource is planets, not oil or uranium or some such). But, anyway, you don’t just go to war with people over resources they have that you might not–if that were true, Canada would be part of the United States by now.

No, resources only become a problem when you think the other people involved won’t let you in on them like you want. Now, the definitions of what this means can vary from “Will not allow it all” to “Will not allow it on sufficiently good terms.” And that point, it becomes a matter of power–but even that is not what brings people to war. If that were true, Britain and the United States would have gone to war in the late 1800s or sometime between WWI and WWII.

No–we’re only concerned about whether people have more power than we do if we feel threatened by those people. And that is where hatred comes in. If one nation threatens or has threatened another and has not offered any kind of rapprochement or apology or anything, as a general rule, the second will hate the first. Also, as a general rule, if one nation hates another nation, the second will feel threatened, reasons for hatred be hanged. And it’s pretty easy to kill someone when you want them dead–which is the actual definition of hate.

Prejudice and such tends to stem from that, and usually the surface factors are the reasons why the war actually happens–oil deals, water access, trade routes, etc.–but the reason why these things spawn war instead of massive court cases is because of people feeling threatened by the power of others, and are worried that such will be used against them. Most of the reasons for wars are simply instruments of this power.

This situation will maintain so long as the Second Coming has not occurred, so do not expect this to change anytime soon, and don’t expect international bodies, treaties, or anything else to end warfare, either conventional or unconventional. Persons change, people don’t.

‘Til next time,

Lowell Van Ness


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