War is a state of armed conflict between societies. It is generally characterized by extreme aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. The absence of war is usually called peace. Warfare refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general. Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, and which can result in massive civilian or other combatant casualties. While some scholars see war as a universal and ancestral aspect of human nature, others argue it is a result of specific socio-cultural or ecological circumstances, in that war is usually a direct result of competition over limited resources or an inability to compromise over embedded cultural differences. The deadliest war in world history, in terms of the cumulative number of deaths since its start, is the Second World War, which was fought from 1939 to 1945. World War II resulted in sixty to eighty-five million deaths, depending on who is doing the estimates. In all of human history, the only war to have gotten close to this was the Mongol Conquests, which are estimated to have cost forty-one million people their lives.
As concerns a belligerent’s losses in proportion to its prewar population, the most destructive war in modern history may have been the Paraguayan War, where it is estimated that a total of seven to ten percent of the aggressor’s general population was lost to the war. In 2013, war resulted in thirty-one thousand deaths globally, down from seventy-two thousand deaths in 1990. In 2003, Richard Smalley identified war as number six in the top ten biggest problem facing humanity for the next fifty years. War usually results in significant deterioration of a nation’s infrastructure and ecosystem, a decrease in social spending, famine, large-scale emigration from the war zone, and very often, the mistreatment of prisoners of war or civilians. For instance, of the nine million people who were living in Soviet Belarus in 1941, some one-million-six-hundred-thousand were killed by the Germans in actions away from battlefields, including about seven-hundred thousand prisoners of war, five-hundred thousand Jews, and three-hundred and twenty-thousand people counted as partisans, the vast majority of whom were actually unarmed civilians. Further byproducts of most wars are the prevalence and distribution of often superfluous propaganda by some or all parties in the conflict and increased revenues by weapons manufacturers, as well as, multiple other war related production sectors of various economies.
What this basically means is that very few wars are actually fought for the reasons that the government waging them say that they are. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom, and the like are rarely the true motivations for any war fought by humanity. What it really means is that most all wars are fought over limited economic resources. It also means that all the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness crap that governments spew in their defense is meant to keep people from losing their minds over all of the family members that they have lost in the conflict. It is meant to justify the wanton destruction and death caused by the various wars instigated over these limited resources. Governments cannot afford to be in every single citizen’s home, so they have to come up with creative ways to make the people think that they are there. Propaganda is the machine by which the government convinces the people that they are the all-seeing, all-powerful, unquestionable force that has the authorization to order their people’s sons and daughters off to fight in a war that will likely kill them and many more. Even more, this process is a normalized part of how all nations operate on a daily basis, especially the United States.
The United States has been guilty of engaging in this process since its very foundation. The foundation story built around the American Revolution is nothing more than a carefully crafted myth, rife with propaganda and lies. Built around a craftily constructed phrases suggesting “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” the founders of the United States, by the skin of their teeth, got away with one of the largest cases of grand larceny in human history. They stole an entire country. They also used phrases like, “No taxation without representation,” and “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty,” to encourage people to support their cause, when the only people who were ever really affected by Britain’s taxation and land policies were the rich founders of the nation itself. They also, in more places than in just the Declaration of Independence, tried to press home the idea that all men were created equal and deserved to have an equal say in how they were governed.
In reality, the Founders rebelled against Britain for a number economic reasons. Here are just a few. First, and most obviously, they were tired of paying taxes on necessary goods that they could obtain cheaper from other sources. Second, during this period, the anti-slavery movement in Britain was beginning to take shape, and some of its early heroes were making themselves known. The Founders rebelled against Britain to avoid having to abandoned their cheap labor source. A third reason had the Founders looking to the West, past the line of the Proclamation Line of 1763. A great many of the Founders had investments in the lands beyond the Appalachians. As long as the American Colonies remained part of Britain, those investments were in jeopardy of failing because the Proclamation prevented settlement west of the crest of the Appalachians. The Founders of the United States of America got what they wanted, an independent nation free from Britain’s taxes, supportive of slavery, and free to pursue its interests west of the Appalachians; however, their victory was not fee. It came at the expense of the lives of nearly seventy-five thousand men, mostly soldiers, women, and children.
The War of 1812, accompanied by the Creek Wars, can be painted in much the same light. Post 1783, the end of the Revolutionary War, the United States had developed strong trade relations with the Kingdom of France. After that nation’s revolution, and the subsequent rise of Napoleon, this became a problem for Great Britain, who was at war with Napoleon. To protect itself, Britain placed trade restrictions on any and all trade with France coming from the Americas. This threatened the welfare of the northern trade powers in the United States, though this was not the only problem. The British were also assaulting American naval vessels and conscripting the crews of any vessel that was suspected of carry trade goods to or from France; though, the frequency at which this was happening was extremely exaggerated in order to drum up support for the war amongst the states whose national congressmen would have to vote on whether or not to approve funding for the war.
These were not the only problems, however. The United States also needed to better secure the lands past the Appalachians, as their efforts to settle the region were being hampered by the troops that Britain could spare, but even more so, by their Native American allies in the region. Beating Britain gave the United States more open access to international trade waters, and complete unfettered access to the lands between the Mississippi and the Appalachians, namely the old Northwest, to complement their 1803 purchase of Louisiana from France. Interestingly enough, the final battle of the War of 1812 occurred at New Orleans, with Andrew Jackson leading the American forces, two weeks after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which had actually ended the war.
The Creek War, conducted under the leadership of General Andrew Jackson, was a war conducted by the United States against the Creek Confederacy in the region of what is now Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. The Creek Confederacy was an ally of Britain. Defeating the Creek, combined with defeating Britain, opened up what is now the Deep South to cotton production. The Creek fought bravely against a force of American soldiers led by what history now commonly understands to be a genocidal maniac. He burned down countless villages inhabited by peaceful peoples in his effort to break the will of those Creek that were resisting his effort to open the region to American tradesman. After the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson, in August of 1814, the United States rushed into the region and quickly became the western world’s powerhouse for cotton production. Obviously, this war’s sole purpose was economic gain.
Of course, the nation’s leadership played the conflict off as one for the future of liberty; when, in reality, the United States could have defeated Britain and the Creeks blindfolded. Britain was more focused on Napoleon and the Creek were not equipped to fight the kind of war brought on by Jackson and his men. The United States was able to get so many willing soldiers to fight the war because they promised ‘virgin lands’ to the veterans of the war. It is interesting to note that during the two concurring conflicts, the United States also made an effort to conquer Canada, though they failed. Imagine the economic benefits that would have come their way had they been successful. The United States’ success cost the lives of nearly twenty-thousand British and American soldiers, and the lives of another five thousand Creek natives. The American government justified this because their victory gave them unfettered access to over one-hundred million acres of ‘fresh’ farmland, which also gave the Southern states more land in which to expand slavery.
The Mexican-American War can be classified as nothing less than an unwarranted war of aggression that was fought for nothing other than pure economic gain. The war was an armed conflict between the United States of America and the United Mexican States which lasted from 1846 to 1848. It followed in the wake of the United States’ annexation of Texas in 1845, which Mexico considered part of its territory, despite a disputed revolution in Texas in 1836, the Texas Revolution. At the conclusion of the war, Texas was not the only issue that had been settled. With the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Mexico was forced to cede all of its northern territories, Texas, Nuevo Mexico, and Alta California, which amounted to just over half of its entire territory, to the United States. This incident had its roots in the middle of the 1820s when the new Mexican Republic decided to offer Americans land grants in Texas in exchange for their settling the northern frontier and protecting the lower parts of Mexico from Comanche and Apache raids, something the Mexican Army was incapable of doing itself. Their only caveats were that the settlers coming to Texas convert to Catholicism and leave their slaves in the United States, as Mexico had abolished slavery. Neither conditions were adhered to.
Instead, Americans from the Southern slave states moved into Texas, with their slaves in tow, with the intent of preparing Texas for entry into the United States as a slave state. Mexico was, of course, not happy with the American settler’s defiance, and did what any good government would do; they attempted to enforce Mexican law in Mexican Territory. This did not go over well with the American settlers, who continued to resist Mexican emissaries, and eventually, organized a rebellion which, after a hairline victory at the Battle of San Jacinto, made them the independent Republic of Texas, at least in their eyes. They justified their revolution by claiming that Mexico was violating their natural rights to liberty and freedom. The Mexican parliament never recognized the treaty that General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna signed creating the republic. Just under ten years later, Texas was able to wiggle its way into the United States by a vote of the US House of Representatives, a slight violation of the Constitutional provision for the admission of new states. Mexico, enraged by the continued violation of their sovereign territory, considered the annexation of Texas to be an Act of War. This was, of course, precisely what President James K. Polk, a pro slavery President, was hoping would happen.
President Polk ordered a regiment of the United States Army, under the command of Major General Zachary Taylor, into a disputed region between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande River. The Nueces River was as far south as Mexico was willing to grant Texas recognition. Mexico considered this yet another act of war and sent troops to the Rio Grande to make sure that the Americans did not advance any further. The reports of who fired first are conflicted, with each side blaming the other, but what happened next is common history. The United States seeking to gain new territory for the expansion of slavery and the prospecting of mineral wealth, took advantage of a Mexican Army weakened by internal conflict and poor leadership. The war took two years because of how difficult it was to navigate much of Mexico’s desert terrain, but the war was one sided to a severe degree. The United States won the war, doubling its size in instant; but it did so at the expense of the lives forty thousand soldiers and uncounted civilians, all so that it could expand slavery and get to the gold wealth in Alta California before Mexico did. They knew it was their because American surveyors had been hired by Mexico to seek out the richest deposits of gold only to have that information transmitted to the US Government instead of their own.
Next, of course, is the American Civil War. The war was fought as a formal war from 1861 to 1865, and then as a guerrilla campaign from 1865 to 1876. The South’s guerrilla campaign was led by the likes of Nathan Bedford Forrest, under the guise of the Ku Klux Klan. Together, these two segments of the Civil War witnessed the death of over a total of nearly eight-hundred thousand soldiers and civilians. The Civil War was the culmination of a century of side trading and compromises between Northern free states and Southern slave states. The conflict came to a head as politicians in the North finally refused to accept the spread of slavery beyond its 1860 boundaries, going so far as to threaten its complete abolition if the South continued to push for its expansion, which of course, they did. Some would argue that this was actually a matter of states’ rights to govern their own affairs, however, others will argue much more effectively that the war was fought to over the fate of slavery. After the North managed to get slavery abolished by the 13th Amendment and secured the surrender of the Confederate Government, the war continued as a guerrilla campaign that the South eventually won.
Had the South won the formal portion of the war, it is likely that American slavery would have spread throughout the whole the Americas, especially since Brazil was also a slave holding nation at this time. Since the North won that portion of the war, the policy in the South, after the KKK and their political support got Northern troops out of the South, was Jim Crow, which lasted as a formal policy in the American South until the middle of the 1960s, with some regions holding out well into the late seventies. Also known as Segregation, this policy suppressed African American’s ability to assimilate into American society after the war, which relegated many of them to working as crop sharers on the very same Southern plantations from which they had been freed, living their lives in a constant cycle of debt slavery. This kept many of them in the same bound conditions that their ancestors had been forced into because leaving their debts unpaid would either get them killed or put into prison. Those people that managed to escape the South found themselves living in squalor in Northern cities working low wage jobs or working as scabs when white workers went on strike over similar treatment.
The understanding of the Civil War that this should leave with people is that the Civil War was not just a Civil War fought between competing political factions in the United States, who found that they could no longer work with each other peacefully. The ultimate truth that this story should tell the reader is that the American Civil War was actually, more than anything else, a Civil War between competing economic leaders in the Capitalist economic system. The war put the future of capitalist mass production on the line. The question of the war was simple. Was capitalist production going to advance into the future on the back of chattel slave labor, or was it going to advance on the back of wage slave labor? American slavers had support in South America, and American Industrialists had support in Europe, though Britain did consider supporting the South, at first. The American Civil War settled this question for a long period of time, and wage slavery became the preferred method of labor in the Americas, of which, share cropping was an adjustment catered to agriculture. How many more lives have been destroyed by the poverty created by mass wage slavery since the conclusion of this war? One can only imagine.
There are, of course, also the post-Civil War engagements against the American Native Plains Tribes, from the Comanche and Apache Nations in the far south, to the Lakota and neighboring Nations in the far north. After the Civil War, the American government quickly discovered that the Plains Tribe’s way of life was not conducive to the new standard of capitalism, wage slavery. Their answer to the problem was the slaughter of the Norther American Bison, to near extinction, and the crushing of the Plain Tribe’s culture, so that they could be pushed aside for white workers and farmers whose jobs it would be to make the Plains economy more conducive to capitalist economics. It is impossible to enumerate the total number of people who were killed by the United States Army and civilian militias in order to settle what some came to know as the Wild West, however, anyone with a heart will call it no less than organized genocide. What was it all really done for, though? The United States needed land to build a convenient railway connecting its western states to its economic center in its eastern states. The people settled in the land in the first place were but a minor hindrance to the capitalist business class and their friends in the government. Those that were left after all of the wanton killings, were relegated to living on reservations, which to this day, continue to shrink as the government continues to violate treaty after treaty in their hunt for ‘scarce’ raw materials.
By now, one should notice a distinct pattern. American wars are not fought for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They are not fought in defense of some lofty need to preserve the glory of human liberty. They are fought in the name of economic gain for a wealthy elite who uses these lofty lies to get the poor to do the dirty work of war for them. One should also notice that the conflicts are, in every single instance, fought against a brown, red, or yellow people of some sort, who happen to be in the way of the progression of the white man, as the capitalist class in this case is predominately White Anglo Saxon Protestant, with a view assimilated groups thrown into the mix. Those who have not been assimilated are the poor saps in the military or the factories working towards some imagined and glorious future in which all pail skins live in harmony ruling over the world’s ‘savages.’ This basically means that American soldiers, many of whom are also the very brown people being held down, are not glorious knights fighting for liberty and justice; but rather, they are pawns being moved about by their capitalist masters in a global game of economic domination. Not convinced? Please, allow the lesson continue.
Move on to the Spanish American War. The war started in 1898 after a questionable occurrence in which an American battle ship was hit by a Spanish mine off the coast of Cuba. Two years later, the United States had possession of Cuba, Guam, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and several other small islands. Cuba was granted its independence, though the United States was tied up in its affairs until they were removed by Fidel Castro in the 1959 Cuban Revolution. However, the Philippines were retained as a territorial possession until after the end of World War II. As for Puerto Rico and Guam, those islands are still territorial possessions of the United States. What is most interesting is what happened in the Philippines after the war. The United States engaged in the suppression of a revolution against their rule, led by Emilio Aguinaldo, the man who had helped the United States remove Spain from the Philippines. This conflict lasted for an additional fourteen years and resulted in over two-hundred and fifty thousand deaths, as well as, the complete raping of the Philippine’s natural resources by American capitalist investors.
Moving on to World Wars I and II, one might consider that the cycle was temporarily broken, however, one would be massively incorrect. World Wars I and II were fought over access to the global market for various types of raw materials and natural resources. The United States’ victory in World War II gave its capitalist rulers massively increased access to markets for raw materials and theaters for the development of new technology, whose purpose it would be to cement the United States’ position as a global power in perpetuity. Some even argue that World War II was a conflict in which both sides, the Allies and the Axis Powers, were funded by the same capitalist moguls. There is clear evidence to support such claims; though, the topic remains one of intense contention. The conflicts in Korea and Vietnam increased the United States access to markets in Asia and served as active theaters for the development of America’s military technology. The Military Industrial Complex saw to that. The United States entered Korea with World War II equipment and left Vietnam with the prototype of the M1-A1 Abrams Assault Tank, the M-16 Infantry Assault Rifle, and the Apache and Comanche Attack Helicopters, as well as, several rather daunting Air Force Bombers. Vietnam was also a field test facility for the American chemical warfare machine, with Napalm and Agent Orange killing thousands and causing cancer or birth defects in thousands more. The human cost is almost always ignored, though. Combining soldiers and civilians, the two conflicts witnessed the loss of over nearly four hundred thousand souls.
Since the controversial conclusion of Vietnam, American Special Forces units have been involved in conflicts around the world in the United States’ continuing efforts to secure access to natural resources. The elite special forces unit Delta Force was personally responsible for the Cocaine Wars in South America, as well as, with the assistance of the CIA, several regime changes in Africa. In these nations, access to gold, diamonds, silver, and other rare minerals was on the line, as well as, access to regions of Africa that were capable of growing opium producing poppy plants, the plant from which heroin is made. These very same forces were also involved in the transportation of Heroin from Southeast Asia to the United States. There are a lot of conspiracy theories involving these conflicts and the subsequent cycle of addiction that hit American inner cities in the form of street drugs and American suburbs in the form prescription medications. Most of them are correct, and this can be reasoned out fairly quickly. It is known that heroin was smuggled into the United States with the help of the CIA. That has come out. It is also known that Cocaine was smuggled into the United States with the help of the CIA. This, too, has come out. So, the cycle of addiction that hit the US afterwards, to include the overdose deaths, can be blamed on the United States government. One can only imagine that the American people themselves were turned into live test subjects. How many people have died as a result of this open air experiment testing the experimental limits of addiction for cocaine and heroin? It is estimated that close to a million people, or more, have lost their lives to drug overdoses since the arrivals of cocaine and heroin, in mass amounts, into the United States.
Has the cycle come to a conclusion? Of course, not! If anything, it has only gotten worse. In 2001, whether the 9/11 attacks were an inside job or not, the 9/11 attacks were used to justify taking over a sovereign nation, Afghanistan, in the name of taking the War on Terror the terrorists. At least, that is what the American people were told. What the American people were not told is that Afghanistan is the largest producer of opium in the world. They were also never told that the American pharmaceutical industry is the largest investor in Afghanistan’s opium crops, which they use to make the prescription medications that currently have Americans addicted and risking death daily. It is estimated that for every year that these drugs are on the American market, at least fifty thousand people are dying each year from overdoses, with each year surpassing the year before it in record amounts of drug overdoses. There is one drug in particular, Oxycodone, the strongest prescribed opiate based pain reliever on the market, that has taken more lives from overdoses than any other drug, to date. It has even surpassed all street drugs combined.
The story in Iraq was slightly different. The Second Iraq War was predicated on Saddam Hussein stockpiling chemical and nuclear weapons and harboring terrorists, which he was not and did not. The war’s real purpose was to secure cheap access to Iraq’s oil fields, which are some of the richest in the world. Hussein had, to the dismay of American oil companies, long since nationalized the Iraqi oil industry, which made it extremely difficult for American companies to get the oil at prices they were willing to pay. Freedom was never part of the discussion with the American companies and government officials that planned the affair. All they could see was the massive amount of money that they would make once Hussein was removed from power. This war was, of course, was fought in concert with the first attempt to bring Hussein around in the early 1990s. These two conflicts have also served as live test facilities for further advances in American military technology. The top two technologies to come of these wars are individual stealth technology and remote unmanned drone strikers. Further, both of these Middle East conflicts have spilled over into other nations like Pakistan, Syria, Libya, and Iran and threaten to engulf the entire world in what will be nothing less than World War III, as the world’s top powers begin to take sides in the extended affair. So far, only one-million-three-hundred-thousand people have lost their lives in the conflicts. How many more will die in a World War III style conflict?
By now, it should be clear that American soldiers are fighting and dying for corporate profit, nothing more, nothing less. How many more people have to die before the majority of the people in this country come around to the realization that they are being played for fools? How many more people have to die before they realize that joining the military is not an honorable thing in this country, and frankly, never has been. There are plenty of American veterans who will stand up and make this very statement. Just consider the author of the article, who is a veteran of the United States Army. How long will it be before poor people realize that joining the military is not a pathway to the top? How long will it be before they realize that they are poor people being sent to kill poor people? How long will it be before these people realize that they are being sent off to fight for corporate profit and not life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
As long as the greater majority of the American public fails to come around to these realizations and continues to fall for the propaganda, the doom and gloom that came out in the last presidential election will only get worse. These candidates were not running for themselves or the people. They were running for the corporate masters that pay them, and as long as this is allowed to continue, American soldiers will continue to be sent off to fight in the name corporate profit. Perhaps, this past election will be remembered as a turning point, but who can know? The only thing those who are awakened can do is work to educate the public. Hopefully, that will be enough before it is too late. If nothing can be done before it is too late, the only other option is more conflict, which will likely be the worst internal conflict that the United States has ever seen, resulting only in more death and destruction. How many people truly want to see that happen, and who would end up profiting?
What do you think? Do you like what is being said here? To check out more of Kent Allen Halliburton’s work, visit his politics and history blog. You will find yourself entranced at www.refusetocooperate3.blogspot.com.