In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

The Twilight of the Warlords

Posted by seumasach on September 19, 2009

The Twilight of the Warlords
Cailean Bochanan
Glasgow, 19th September, 2009
He wonder’d to hear me talk of such chargeable and extensive Wars; that certainly we must be a quarrelsome People, or live among very bad Neighbours, and that our Generals must needs be richer than our Kings. He asked what Business we had out of our own Islands, unless upon the Score of Trade or Treaty, or to defend the Coasts with our Fleet.
Gulliver’s Travels- Jonathan Swift
The Western intelligentsia are striving to come to terms with the Afghan War. What is it about? What are we doing there?
You might think that the reasons for such a venture would be established before undertaking it. But no; we start wars then we try to establish the reasons for them. This can lead to amusing absurdities such as the Tories supporting the Iraq war but opposing the reasons given for starting it. Perhaps in years to come ‘What were the the  causes of Afghan war?” could become a standard question for advanced certificate high school exams. When I was at school it was most typically “Discuss the causes of the Franco-Prussian war.” I had no idea what the causes were, but the point was I came up with something and got an “A” pass for my efforts if my memory serves me correctly. Perhaps I can now go on to crack this one; to do what “Boy” Milliband and the rest of the warmongers have failed to do; come up with a single credible explanation for this continued barbarity. But that sharpest of analysts M.K.Bhadrakumar has beaten me to it. He spotted this dead giveaway from new NATO chief Rasmussen:
“But NATO’s new secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen gave away the mood in Washington. He said, “The public discourse has started to go in the wrong direction … We must stay in Afghanistan as long as necessary, and we will stay as long as necessary. Let no one think that a run for the exits is an option. It is not.”
If Rasmussen is to be believed – and he spoke while actually on a visit to Washington on Wednesday – the NATO’s continuance in Afghanistan is an objective in itself.”
So, this is a war for NATO, for NATO as an instrument of war: it is a war for war itself.
Yet there are those who would demean this war seeing it as merely an attempt to control a gas pipeline, or a chance to do a bit more drug-running or gun-running. Or as part of a “War on Terror” with the chance to zap the caves where fanatics mix the deadly nano-thermite explosive they place in our buildings. But this is something more principled. If NATO was formed to defend the West against Communism, it has now become the clenched fist of the West, the Wild West, in defence of the principle of perpetual hegemony, of our right to dictate in perpetuity to the East and the South. This right is being challenged on a daily bases from all quarters to such an extent that it seems madness on our part to reassert our ascendancy. But Afghanistan is our answer, our way of saying that we’re not going quietly. Madness it is to be.
But can the West even keep its own act together or to put it in the language of the gutter press: Can the Hun be trusted to throw their lot in with us in this our moment of need? There are some encouraging signs the he can’t. Rasmussen’s revelatory comments above were a response to a Franco, German, British proposal to
“formulate a joint framework for our transition phase in Afghanistan … to set out expectations of ownership and the clear view to hand over responsibility step-by-step to the Afghans”.
A proposal which has obviously given rise to near total panic: someone’s trying to bring the war to an end.
Incidently, what, you may ask, are Britain doing there?  On the one hand, we may just be us playing our usual perfidious role, staying close to our enemies and making sure this initiative comes to nothing. On the other hand, a split is clearly emerging at the highest level, highlighted by the resignation of Eric Joyce, a warmonger it is true but one with his ears close to the ground and who has the ear of the military. This is a more dramatic event than it has been made out to be. At the same time public opinion itself is straining to do its “duty” in  supporting a war which is seemingly just for the hell of it and Brown would do well to be seen to be trying to wind it down.
There can be no doubting opposition to the war in Germany. The Left Party under Oscar Lafontaine are set to win a substantial vote on the basis of a call to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
This brings us to the question of the anti-war movement in Britain and the USA. Much has been made of the fact that it has virtually disappeared with the coming (the first coming) of Obama. This is all true, but, certainly in Britain, it never amounted to much anyway. More disturbing than the absence of sustained opposition to this war ( something that should be happening on a daily basis and that everyone comes across, in order for it to merit the term “movement”) is the emergence of what looks like a traditional bout of sectarian infighting. Apparently we are to relive the struggles of the thirties with right and left fighting it out for control of the streets. Fighting ‘the Nazis’ is good for the credibility of our lacklustre leftists and good for New Labour too, judging by the intervention of John Denham. But New Labour are the driving force behind the New Imperialism and its barbarous wars; they are unabashed criminals: can a few nutters or bogus fascist outfits really make them look good? Britain thinks it can rerun WW2 forever and always come out as the good guys. So we’re all meant to join in this pageant of history and fight “the nazis”. Fight the nazis by all means: the nazis in the war cabinet, in the Pentagon, the mad-men who came up with the new nuclear doctrine, the torturers, the wedding bombers, the carpet bombers, the destroyers of Fallujah, the ideologues of war without end, the proliferators of depleted uranium, the murderers of men, women and children, the framers of the innocent as terrorists in outrageous travesties of justice, the real terrorists themselves. These are the ones we must deal with if we are to have any future at all worth having.
L’Empire, c’est la Guerre
In the writings that he undertook in  his struggle against the Whig takeover of Britian, Jonathan Swift was able to pinpoint the key elements of the emerging British imperial system. The first was perpetual war. The second a moneyed interest which benefitted from the corresponding indebtedness of the state of which they were the creditors. Following close behind was the class of militarists, gun runners and suppliers of mercenaries, a military-industrial complex which also enriched itself on the back of these wars. He also observed the illegal siphoning off of public monies to fund secret service activity or what we might now call shadow state or covert activities as admitted to by John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, before a House of Commons enquiry which in some ways prefigures the Iran-Contras affair( See ‘The Four Last Years of the Queen”). Later on, notably in “Gullivers Travels” he memorably satirises colonial exploitation. These were the basic elements, but the greatest of these was war. All the others either facilitated war or grew from it.
All these elements are once again remarkably to the fore and once again war is at the heart of all. Would the dollar or the stock market be in question if the empires soldiers and mercenaries had prevailed? Would Chavez and Ahmadinejad be cocking-a-snoot at London and Washington were their forces not hopelessly bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan? And would Obama be withdrawing the provocative missile defence system if he didn’t need Russia to help him to go down in Afghanistan?
The system that Swift could see through in its “glorious” formative years is once more laid bare. In this inglorious twilight struggle the warlords are making their last doomed stand against a new world of peace and cooperation which strikes at the very heart of their being, a peace which is in our power to achieve if we want it badly enough.
Cailean Bochanan
Glasgow, 19th September, 2009
He wonder’d to hear me talk of such chargeable and extensive Wars; that certainly we must be a quarrelsome People, or live among very bad Neighbours, and that our Generals must needs be richer than our Kings. He asked what Business we had out of our own Islands, unless upon the Score of Trade or Treaty, or to defend the Coasts with our Fleet.

Gulliver’s Travels- Jonathan Swift


The Western intelligentsia are striving to come to terms with the Afghan War. What is it about? What are we doing there?
You might think that the reasons for such a venture would be established before undertaking it. But no; we start wars then we try to establish the reasons for them. This can lead to amusing absurdities such as the Tories supporting the Iraq war but opposing the reasons given for starting it. Perhaps in years to come ‘What were the the  causes of Afghan war?” could become a standard question for advanced certificate high school exams. When I was at school it was most typically “Discuss the causes of the Franco-Prussian war.” I had no idea what the causes were, but the point was I came up with something and got an “A” pass for my efforts if my memory serves me correctly. Perhaps I can now go on to crack this one; to do what “Boy” Milliband and the rest of the warmongers have failed to do; come up with a single credible explanation for this continued barbarity. But that sharpest of analysts M.K.Bhadrakumar has beaten me to it. He spotted this dead giveaway from new NATO chief Rasmussen:
“But NATO’s new secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen gave away the mood in Washington. He said, “The public discourse has started to go in the wrong direction … We must stay in Afghanistan as long as necessary, and we will stay as long as necessary. Let no one think that a run for the exits is an option. It is not.”
If Rasmussen is to be believed – and he spoke while actually on a visit to Washington on Wednesday – the NATO’s continuance in Afghanistan is an objective in itself.”

So, this is a war for NATO, for NATO as an instrument of war: it is a war for war itself.
Yet there are those who would demean this war seeing it as merely an attempt to control a gas pipeline, or a chance to do a bit more drug-running or gun-running. Or as part of a “War on Terror” with the chance to zap the caves where fanatics mix the deadly nano-thermite explosive they place in our buildings. But this is something more principled. If NATO was formed to defend the West against Communism, it has now become the clenched fist of the West, the Wild West, in defence of the principle of perpetual hegemony, of our right to dictate in perpetuity to the East and the South. This right is being challenged on a daily basis from all quarters to such an extent that it seems madness on our part to reassert our ascendancy. But Afghanistan is our answer, our way of saying that we’re not going quietly. Madness it is to be.
But can the West even keep its own act together or to put it in the language of the gutter press: Can the Hun be trusted to throw their lot in with us in this our moment of need? There are some encouraging signs the he can’t. Rasmussen’s revelatory comments above all were a response to a Franco, German, British proposal to
“formulate a joint framework for our transition phase in Afghanistan … to set out expectations of ownership and the clear view to hand over responsibility step-by-step to the Afghans”.
A proposal which has obviously given rise to near total panic: someone’s trying to bring a war to an end!
Incidently, what, you may ask, are Britain doing in this company?  On the one hand, we may just be us playing our usual perfidious role, staying close to our enemies and making sure this initiative comes to nothing. On the other hand, a split is clearly emerging at the highest level, highlighted by the resignation of Eric Joyce, a warmonger it is true but one with his ears close to the ground and who has the ear of the military. This is a more dramatic event than it has been made out to be. At the same time public opinion itself is straining to do its “duty” in  supporting a war which is seemingly just for the hell of it and Brown would do well to be seen to be trying to wind it down.
There can be no doubting opposition to the war in Germany. The Left Party under Oscar Lafontaine are set to win a substantial vote on the basis of a call to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
This brings us to the question of the anti-war movement in Britain and the USA. Much has been made of the fact that it has virtually disappeared with the coming (the first coming) of Obama. This is all true, but, certainly in Britain, it never amounted to much anyway. More disturbing than the absence of sustained opposition to this war ( something that should be happening on a daily basis and that everyone comes across, in order for it to merit the term “movement”) is the emergence of what looks like a traditional bout of sectarian infighting. Apparently we are to relive the struggles of the thirties with right and left fighting it out for control of the streets. Fighting ‘the Nazis’ is good for the credibility of our lacklustre leftists and good for New Labour too, judging by the intervention of John Denham. But New Labour are the driving force behind the New Imperialism and its barbarous wars; they are unabashed criminals: can a few nutters or bogus fascist outfits really make them look good? Britain thinks it can rerun WW2 forever and always come out as the good guys. So we’re all meant to join in this pageant of history and fight “the nazis”. Fight the nazis by all means: the nazis in the war cabinet, in the Pentagon, the mad-men who came up with the new nuclear doctrine, the torturers, the wedding bombers, the carpet bombers, the blitzkriegers, the destroyers of Fallujah, the hospital storm troopers, the ideologues of war without end, the proliferators of depleted uranium, the murderers of men, women and children, the framers of the innocent as terrorists in outrageous travesties of justice, the real terrorists themselves. These are the ones we must deal with if we are to have any future at all worth having.
L’Empire, c’est la Guerre
In the writings that he undertook in  his struggle against the Whig takeover of Britian, Jonathan Swift was able to pinpoint the key elements of the emerging British imperial system. The first was perpetual war. The second a moneyed interest which benefitted from the corresponding indebtedness of the state of which they were the creditors. Following close behind was the class of militarists, gun runners and purveyors of mercenaries, a military-industrial complex which also enriched itself on the back of these wars. He also observed the illegal siphoning off of public monies to fund secret service activity or what we might now call shadow state or covert activities as admitted to by John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, before a House of Commons enquiry which in some ways prefigures the Iran-Contras affair( See ‘The Four Last Years of the Queen”). Later on, notably in “Gullivers Travels” he memorably satirises colonial exploitation.
These were the basic elements, but the greatest of these was war. All the others either facilitated war or grew from it.
All these elements are once again remarkably to the fore and once again war is at the heart of all. Would the dollar or the stock market be in question if the empire’s soldiers and mercenaries had prevailed? Would Chavez and Ahmadinejad be cocking-a-snoot at London and Washington were their forces not hopelessly bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan? And would Obama be withdrawing the provocative missile defence system if he didn’t need Russia to help him to go down in Afghanistan?
The system that Swift could see through in its “glorious” formative years is once more laid bare. In this inglorious twilight struggle the warlords are making their last doomed stand against a new world of peace and cooperation which strikes at the very heart of their being, a peace which is in our power to achieve if we want it badly enough.

2 Responses to “The Twilight of the Warlords”

  1. KevinB said

    Absolutely brilliant article Colin. Thanks for that. Hope you don’t mind me posting this (with link) on my little blog.

    It is amazing, isn’t it, how in this day and age with all our technology, ‘education’ for all and a world supposedly awash with information, the public at large are almost completely ignorant of the reality that dominates our lives and threatens our very existence….

    ….while in the 1720’s, without an internet or even what we call a media, one intelligent Irishman could grasp the whole idea and represent it in a nutshell.

  2. inthesenewtimes said

    Thanks Kevin!

    Go ahead- see if it can go viral for once.

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