War: What Is It Good For?

Waging war is when you send your kids to kill someone else’s babies. It is nothing more noble than that, and all the good reasons in the world won’t differentiate your war from Hitler’s, or Napoleon’s, or Genghis Khan’s, or Caesar’s, or any of the thousands of other little excursions into bowel spilling that humankind has indulged in with monotonous regularity over the last few millennia. The stated reason for going to war is always the same; as the prophet Orwell said, “Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.” The actual reason for going to war is generally understood to be a grab for resources, whether land or gold or oil or peasant girls. But that’s an old-fashioned notion. The reason modern wars are waged has nothing to do with resources, which can be secured through the liberal application of funds or the coercion of international banking structures; rather, modern war is waged to sustain the status quo.

‘Status quo’ is Latin for ‘state in which’, or as Shaft would have said, ‘what it is’. And nothing matters more to the twits in power. After all, what else have they got to offer? Would George W. Bush have waged his little war just for oil? There’s something rather feeble about this explanation. It lacks the proper scope, the requisite megalomania. Every last dram of Iraq’s oil would have been easy enough to secure with a little backroom business of the same type that Donald Rumsfeld was engaged in when America sold Saddam Hussein his first weapons of mass destruction; the only real competition there was the Russians and the French, and they drive Citroens and Ladas, so how much oil could they realistically be in the market for? Their cars don’t even run. In reality, Bush needed a war not for oil, but to keep the increasingly fractious American people entertained, to dose them on cheap victory and win some tin laurels for himself. That’s the stuff war is about, these days. As long as we’re at war, after all, dissent is treason. How often has that hoary chestnut “giving comfort to the enemy” been served up during this military adventure? And nobody balks at spending money on war, so anybody in the war business stands to make a killing, so to speak: observe the creep veep.

Problem is, victory didn’t come easy in Iraq, as originally planned. One might even say it ain’t gonna happen. It only remains to figure out how to cut and run in a victorious manner. The common folk thrive on heroes and violence and danger, just as long as none of them are local. Watch what happens when our heroes in Iraq start trickling home with their minds blown on adrenaline and gunsmoke: they will be welcomed with a mighty noise and precious little else. Please return to your lives and don’t do anything heroic down at the plant when they lay you off. War makes people want to be told what to do, what to think, what to be. And it’s a great way to find out who needs watching. Anti-war is second only to homosexual in the lexicon of disgrace. The status quo is, after all, an instrument of control. It benefits only those who are well off; anybody else would call the status quo a situation worth altering, not maintaining, which generally means stripping the haves of whatever it is they have. That would be our leaders, come to think of it. Suddenly war makes all kinds of sense. Until, of course, you don’t win it.

Winnie Churchill said, “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.” True dat. A pity Bush can’t read, or he might have stumbled across this little observation. For the rest of us there’s another useful remark made by a fellow that made anti-war sentiments seem almost noble: “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?” These are the words of M. ‘Trimspa’ Gandhi. Ultimately, war is the purpose of war. It makes pacifists of a few, and passivists of the majority.

BEN TRIPP is an independent filmmaker and all-around swine. His book, Square In The Nuts, may be purchased here, with other outlets to follow: http://www.lulu.com/Squareinthenuts. Swag is available as always from http://www.cafeshops/tarantulabros. And Mr. Tripp may be reached at credel@earthlink.net.



Ben Tripp is America’s leading pseudo-intellectual. His most recent book is The Fifth House of the Heart.