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Profitable War

by V. H. 9 days ago in opinion
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For Fun and Profit

Profitable War
Photo by Diane Picchiottino on Unsplash

In his book, “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” George Orwell places the entire story against the backdrop of an endless war. According to Emmanuel Goldstein, a former partner of Big Brother and now enemy of the state, this is a purposely created non-ending war with either Eastasia or Eurasia in different combinations for mutual benefits of all three belligerents. Sometimes Winston Smith’s nation, Oceania, is in alliance with Eastasia fighting Eurasia; sometimes it is Oceania was in allied with Eurasia fighting Eastasia. There were also times when Eastasia and Eurasia teamed up on Oceania. Truth is it never really mattered.

This never ending war was engineered to maintain productivity meant to keep the population employed and busy, too busy. It also produced a reason for shortcomings in the party’s ability to deliver. It was the reason people had to make due without. At the same time it created a boogeyman for the average citizen who in turn felt a real need to cling to their Big Brother. It places the citizens in an emotional rollercoaster. Winston Smith has a period when he is afraid of a potential invasion but is greatly relieved when Oceania prevails. But then that is the special magic about losing something. Threat of losing something makes you want to grasp it ever so much more. Speaking of losing something this constant threat created the need for security for which people didn’t mind surrendering freedoms. Security was a necessity. It was imperative that individuals kept watch of others for actions or thoughts which may harm society’s security. All you hold dear is under threat the enemy is everywhere.

Fear has always been a great motivator as well as hate. I personally hate no one. Hate just simply consumes so much of your life and it imprisons you. I remember a young man in the army. His name was Jerry B. and he was a member of our maintenance section. He hated living in Germany. He refused to leave post except when it was mandatory. I did leave our small post as often as I could to explore and try various things. I loved living in Europe in south central Germany. I wish I could have done more than I did. But Jerry wouldn’t try anything. He wouldn’t leave the post except when it was mandatory such as going to another post for training (there were several small post which our division was dispersed to around the town of Ansbach, Nuremberg, and other areas) or to take care of personal business—our personnel section was about five miles away.

Growing up I lived with a very paranoid step father. Fear just controlled his life. Evidently he had done something with another male as a teen in a highly homophobic society. Others found out what he did or he thought in his paranoid mind that they had. He learned to fear even more and to hate. Sometimes I believed he married my mom so fast so he could try to hide this event from others. Both his hate and his fear caused him to build a cage about himself. It restricted him from life in so many ways. He hated the cage but at the same time needed it to shield him from his fears. He hated it as much as Jerry B. hated his self imposed prison. My step father hated the life he had allowed his fear and hatred create for him which only created more fear and hatred. He would lash out through those bars at everyone close to him. He took his frustration out on any convenient target. It probably didn’t help matters that he served in Vietnam. He claimed that the threat of dying everyday contributed greatly to his psyche—sad truth is as long as you are alive, everyday you face the threat of dying.

Fear and hatred are very powerful things and George Orwell had chosen a perfect device to maintain this fear and hatred in his book. People were so afraid of possible outcomes of the war. Big Brother and the other regimes had as I’ve mentioned before created a boogeyman or scapegoat for all that was wrong in their lives. They were pitted against one another and had only Big Brother to turn to for comfort. Orwell weaves this all together nicely for his book and why shouldn’t he had been able to do so? He had just witnessed the rise of Fascism in Europe, a great example to learn from and World War II.

One of the main aspects of Hitler’s and Mussolini’s plans was a build up of their militaries. This served several purposes such as a quick solution to spur the economy by creating jobs and a focus. People were put to work and were able to spend which helped other parts of the economy. They developed planes and weapons as producers greedily jumped on the bandwagon. New weapons were created but had no real proving ground until the gift of the Spanish Civil War came along which helped through the added demand to up production and gave the Fascists a testing zone to use and improve their weapons. Factories hummed and people were employed and money flowed freely through the veins and arteries of the economy. An added and very much desired aspect of this military industrial buildup was that it gave the two dictators more muscle to flex at international tables. It wasn’t that they were right which got others to cooperate. It was the fear of what they might do.

While Mussolini envisioned and embarked on rebuilding the Roman Empire which definitely would keep his factories humming and people working, Hitler invaded Poland to regain land take from Germany in the Treaty of Versailles. I think he knew this would create a war which would keep factories humming as they needed to create the stuff of nightmares but also give him an excuse and scapegoats which he desperately needed to control his people. He had chosen the fight with Poland because Poland was created from and given lands that had been up to the end of World War I German and the German People would back that idea. I should mention that Germany as all European Countries have changed their territory over the centuries. From Germania in the time of Rome to the Holy Roman Empire throughout most of its history to various warring states the area known as Germany had only existed as Hitler knew it since the 1870’s. I don’t think any nation of Europe truly has a real boundary. The land is the land of the people who live there. But that didn’t matter to this rampaging corporal. He also knew that France and Great Britain may attack, but that was good. He could go to war with them and the German People would give him their blessing and support him because these two nations had attacked Germany and not the other way around. Again, the factories would hum, people would be employed, and they all would have a common enemy to unite them. He had scapegoats on whom for them to take out their frustration.

He also realized, especially when Norway, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and France fell so quickly to his Blitzkrieg that the war would not be forever. But a forever war would be his goal. He would still need a reason to keep the factories going strongly and the people employed. One bad thing about a free market or even capitalism is that fashions change and producers who are unable to keep up with the changes in demand tend to fail. When this happens people lose their jobs and have no money to spend which can create a domino effect as other producers suffer because of reduced demand and spending. When this occurs you have division as numerous ideas spring up as to the reason for the downturn. Attention and blame can be focused inward as it was on the Weimar Republic—yes, they made mistakes but so did Hitler. However, he was able to distract people from those errors by the war. He also avoided the ups and downs of a market economy by being able to fine tune it through government spending in the arms industry which was more easily focused than the consumer part of the economy.

He needed an ongoing war to keep his economy humming and people spending while keeping the people busy and distracted. He had mentioned maintaining a frontline in the Urals which historically was used to distinguish Europe from Asia. He would have an ongoing battle with the Soviets which would keep his factories humming and people busy and spending. He would have the resources and people needed to maintain his forever war as well as a distraction as well as an excuse for the policies he makes and as the scapegoat to shift blame to while using it to demand that people follow him as patriots working to defeat an enemy, which of course creates the other side of the coin, anyone who protests the leader must be a traitor and in league with our enemies. They are the reason we are struggling.

There are some major drawbacks to this whole continuous war strategy as Hitler and Mussolini both would realize in the end. First of all in order to have your factories humming and your employees working in order to support your war effort you need a steady supply of raw materials or their reasonable substitutes. War tends to disrupt supplies as well as the destruction of your production capabilities. Hermann Goering believed with every Allied Aircraft which was brought down was one less aircraft the Allies would have to fight the war. But the problem was this simply wasn’t true. (Little secret: you win wars by destroying the enemy’s ability and most of all their desire to wage war.) Great Britain was able to replace planes faster than they were losing them. Keeping trained pilots was the main issue. While Goering was targeting planes Allies did all they could to smash Germany’s production capabilities. Supply lines were disrupted through the destruction of rail lines and bridges which also interfered with troop movements. German factories were bombed to interfere with production and to lower the morale of the average German worker. Germany was forced to waste so much effort on protecting these key items which included moving them to caves in some cases.

There is also a drain on your labor force. In order to maintain a large military in the field its losses are replaced by those who had been workers. In many cases as worker shortages increased either through individuals entering military service or through being a casualty of the war due to the bombings, partisans, actual fighting, or through lack of care because of wartime shortages, they were replaced by workers from conquered areas such as France or slave labor which comprised of what Hitler termed enemies of the state such as Jews. This can only occur if there is a substantial security in place to ensure that these individuals are doing what Germany requires of them and they aren’t sabotaging the war effort. This removes troops from the front and native workers from the production line. It puts your ability to produce materiel at risk.

Until Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy H. Doolittle did his raid on Japan on 18 April 1942 the Japanese were isolated from the horrors of war. Only those troops and support at the front were exposed to these horrors. Families would get the remains of their fallen warriors which they understood was an honorable way to go even though I am sure they still missed, loved, and felt the loss of their family member. Germany on the other hand was right in the middle of its war zone. Not only were the military in the field exposed to the horrors of the war but the German people had a front row seat. With every family member killed, with every house destroyed and family made homeless, with every factory destroyed and people made jobless, with every individual thing in their lives affected the German started to wonder if all of this was worth it. Morale can plummet and people could start asking some real questions about the situation which could be trouble for the leaders.

Finally, besides all the horrors of war being visited on your nation creating unrest from within there is the very real possibility you may lose the war. An idea to keep your citizenry occupied, distracted, and under control could cause far more headaches than what it was worth and could very well end you through uprisings or you could become a prisoner of war. Of course as you know Benito Mussolini, age 61, was captured then rescued and then captured again and finally shot and hung up by partisans. He would later have his body stolen and hidden and then found. After eleven years he would finally be interned in his family crypt which has since been a neo Nazi pilgrimage site. Hideki Tojo, age 63, attempted seppuku while being arrested and was hung after a trial. His ashes were spread at sea. Adolf Hitler, age 56 at the time of the fall of Berlin, reported shot himself after helping Eva Braun, age 33 at the time, commit suicide. He had ordered that his body was to be incinerated to spare him the freak show of Benito’s death.

Since World War II many lessons had been learned. Wars were still being fought but now at a far distance. The United States was involved in Korea and Vietnam, while France was in Algiers and French Indochina (Vietnam is a part of this), and Britain had their own colonial troubles. However, with the Axis eliminated the West had a new boogeyman to scare their people and distract them while compelling them to blind patriotism at the same time. I should note that the patriotism was defined by those in power which was support of those in power. Some historians I have read say that eastern European nations voted for Stalin because he was the only one interested in liberating them from the Nazis. Other historians say Stalin gave them only one choice. Whatever truly happened in the second half of the 1940’s Stalin’s Soviet Union did take control of Eastern Europe and this scared the hell out of the rich and powerful in the West who helped to incite fear in the lower strata of their respective hierarchical systems.

Again, factories hummed and people were put to work to churn out materiel for the policing actions about the globe. These places were far away and people in the homeland had no idea who the people were in these foreign lands but they needed our help. Kind of reminds me of King Leopold II of Belgium and his Congo Free State. They were far away, unknown, and in need of the king’s help. But there still was a problem. Sons and daughters were still dying or becoming horribly wounded both physically and mentally. News agencies were still giving the populace a front, center seat view of what was happening. Questions still rose. When General Giap started his Tet Offensive he knew that Americans would all see it on the evening news. He knew it would cause a backlash and it did. Young and old Americans were out protesting demanding answers. Even though Afghanistan was a world away over 3,500 coalition fighters died and over 22,700 were wounded. Iraq had even more in the several engagements which have occurred since the 1990’s.

When we support foreign allies in their struggles it is even better. When we sell arms to the Saudis to use in Yemen or Israelis to use in their ongoing struggles it is highly profitable. We can keep our factories humming and people working. We are able to maintain the production capacity. We can continue to support the development of the latest weapons and see their effectiveness in these conflicts with little personal cost. We just supply the war effort with equipment and weapons. Instead of our soldiers dying it is Yemeni, Palestinians, Syrians, Kurds, Israelis, Ukrainians, Russians, Saudis and so on. We help to encourage these conflicts by giving or selling our aid. Chances are if it wasn’t for our war machine these people might actually have to learn to work things out between themselves.


About the author

V. H.

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