“The War That Will End War: This is already the vastest war in history. It is a war not of nations, but of mankind. It aims straight at disarmament. It aims at a settlement that shall stop this sort of thing for ever. Every soldier who fights against Germany now is a crusader against war. This, the greatest of all wars, is not just another war – it is the last war!”
– H. G. Wells, August 14, 1914
In France and England, over a million men enlisted to fight in just the Months of August and September, 1914. Similar numbers responded in Germany and Austria. Throughout Europe, the atmosphere was festive, all participants eager and enthusiastically supported by friends and family.
Why Fight World War I?
Before World War I, there were several empires. Turkey controlled that part of the Middle East not controlled by European countries such as Italy, France and England, but she was powerless to stop any modern army. In other words, The Ottoman Empire was ripe for the taking and a number of powerful groups wanted its petroleum reserves.
The British Empire included what is now Antigua, Australia, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Egypt, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Scotland, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Tanzania, Vanuatu, and Zambia. She had wrested Hong Kong and trade concessions from China so that she could sell opium and get silk and tea in exchange. British pretensions were expressed in their national anthem, “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves.”
The Germans had a few colonies as well and the idea of a large German empire had been fed into the ears of the Kaiser by Otto von Bismark, who engineered a united Germany and added treaties to cover himself in his lust for empire and Aryan dominance during the latter part of the Nineteenth Century. While he died in 1890, his influence and his treaties were instrumental in kindling this war.
France, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Italy, and Belgium all had colonies as well; places where a European-backed minority ruled over the local majority with force and bigotry rather than finesse or fairness.
If we look at a rich “prize” such as South Africa, we see Dutch, British, French and Zulu all maneuvering for control and fighting locals as well as other powers, lusting for not only the diamond mines and the cheap and unprotected labor pool, but the opportunity to take dollars and sacrifice from fellow countrymen and turn them into large windfall profits for themselves and their various enterprises. War has consistently presented the wealthy with unprecedented power and increased wealth freely given by zealots and patriots as well as forcefully taken from conscripted men and unwilling taxpayers among their fellow countrymen. So it is hugely profitable at home and abroad.
In addition, racism was thriving throughout the world. It was easy to lord it over “inferior” races if all your neighbors thought likewise, the laws enforced it, and the natives themselves accepted it.
The US started as colonies where European powers took what they wanted. Their descendants, the US people, merely continued these practices without ever seeing their nature. The Louisiana Purchase was territory owned, not by France but by a number of Native American Peoples. California was taken by force (albeit a small force) from its previous colonizer. Alaska, like the middle of our country, was again not owned by the seller but presumed to be ours without consulting those actually living there. Having proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine in 1832, the United States ruled the Western Hemisphere in places which weren’t already colonies and sent troops on numerous occasions to impose her will on those powerless to protect themselves. While reluctant to call dependencies colonies, the US did have several including American Samoa, Cuba, Guam, Hawaii, Honduras, Liberia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Okinawa, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Panama (and the Panama Canal Zone), the US Virgin Islands, and some oil-rich parts of Colombia. The US had forced Japan into economic dependence and occasionally sent troops into China to intervene in local affairs. They were, however, reluctant to undertake a large-scale war so far away. Woodrow Wilson promised neutrality but didn’t maintain it. As soon as she entered the war, the US acquired more territories, moving into Veracruz, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Please note that colonies are places where the colonizing country spends lives and tax dollars and where money is siphoned into the pockets of colonial entrepreneurs, opportunists and suppliers of war material. The first rule of colonialism is divide and conquer: exacerbate tribal, class, ethnic, and religious differences.
World War I was not a war to end all wars. It was a war which both sides joined with dreams of wealth, power, glory and prestige in their hearts. Much of the fighting was over raw materials such as petroleum. Many behind the scenes lusted for the “easy pickings” in the Middle East.
What Happened During World War I?
The War itself could be likened to a turf war between rival gangs. When locals did join with one side or another, the victors ignored their contribution and did what they wanted. It wasn’t easy pickings, though. It was an ungodly slog through mud, mustard gas, murderous cold and ghastly Saharan heat under a constant barrage of lead and shrapnel. It was also an economic trial for citizens back home.
However, it boosted Du Pont’s profits by 953%, US Steel by 246% and General Motors by 312%, all donated by taxpayers. While the average citizen sacrificed, the greedy took enormous profits and often provided stuff not actually needed. Wars shouldn’t have enormous surpluses but this one did.
What Happened After World War I?
By the time it was over, a lot of Europeans were angry and voters in several countries were placated by promises of war reparations from the vanquished; a number of which were designed to be unenforceable but made to look like the war had been worth the sacrifices.
Germany lost its empire, its youth and its existing colonies. The Treaty of Versailles tacked on enormous reparations which the German economy could not possibly produce. Germany, the country, the economy, and the people went bankrupt.
There were other injustices associated with the end of World War I.
England had gone massively in debt to finance the war. A significant part of that debt was to Baron Walter Rothschild, a Zionist financier. The solution was to take Palestine as a colony and install a Zionist governor and Zionist policies, contrary to agreements with locals who had been our allies in the war and, of course, contrary to the best interests of those already living there. In 1922, Jews were an accepted minority of about 11%, exceeding the 9% that was Christian, but far less than the 78% majority who were Muslims. Unlimited Jewish immigration, racist policies and new, unfamiliar laws and taxes led to riots in the 1920s, Zionist terrorism in the ’40s, and independence in 1948, creating a racist state, Israel, led by its Jewish minority (now 32% of the population) – in other words, a colony.
At the end of the war, England also created Kuwait, another oil-rich colony in the Middle East. Kuwait also took the natural deep-water port to the Persian Gulf from territory which was traditionally part of Iraq, facilitating the shipment of oil from the economic partnership/colonization of Saudi Arabia with the creation of the wealthiest single corporation in the world, ARAMCO, the Arabian American Oil Company shipping through the wealthiest per capita nation in the world, the British colony of Kuwait.
At the end of the war, the US (in fact if not in name) added the entire Middle East, ceding direct control of Palestine (Israel), Kuwait (from Iraq), and Bahrain (which was already a British colony) to the British but installing and maintaining military and economic control of the entire region, including the British colonies. The US installed puppet kings in a number of countries and backed the traditional Bedouin leader, King Saud, in Saudi Arabia. Almost all of these men were descended from the Prophet Muhammad so as to gain local approval, but they derived their power from the United States and our foreign aid, which included the second tier of our modern weaponry. When our puppet king wasn’t accepted in Syria, we just installed him in Iraq. We drilled oil throughout the region and enjoyed gasoline at prices about a fourth of what Europeans were paying even while having to transport the “black gold” halfway around the world.
Within the United States, religion and politics made it imperative for our elected officials to back Israel while economic interests made it vital that we continue our relationships with the other governments we installed and maintained in the region. For over a century, our government walked this tightrope.
What can we do to fix things in the Middle East Now?
We can do nothing to help the Middle East in its current civil wars. Our military activities in the region caused this problem in the first place – as well as provoking suicide terrorist attacks against us. Any involvement will strengthen the opposition. Any regime we set up will have sustained opposition rather than local support – as we currently we see in Iraq.
Arabs don’t trust us. While ostensibly “fighting for freedom,” our troops, in a 25-year siege of Iraq, have turned a moderate Arab state with a stable, if repressive, government into a hellish quagmire. Everyone has lost rights – particularly women and the middle class. Nobody is better off except our war industries, a few greedy Arab warlords and some fanatic religious leaders.
How would you respond to Arabs carrying machine guns, driving down the street you live on, and ordering you to observe a curfew or submit to interrogation and/or detention? The Arabs are no less resistant to our presence on their streets and in their neighborhoods. We can’t fix this. Anything we do; anything at all; will just prolong the agony.
What can we do to end all wars?
First and foremost, we must take profit out of war. War materials should be sold at the cost to produce or factories temporarily federalized. We must prohibit their export as well. Making the weapons of war must not be an acceptable enterprise except in clear and explicit self-defense. Currently, conflict overseas is seen as a way to remove your hard-earned cash through taxation, buy weapons to either blow up ourselves or donate to dependent countries to use in their own conflicts, and pocket billions all while pretending to “defend democracy,” a juicy lie which Americans continue to swallow along with the hook of excessive military spending.
Next, if possible, we must do what we did after the Second World War in Germany and Japan: rebuild their economies and put them back on their feet again. We must treat enemies with compassion and fairness; turn political foes into economic allies. If this isn’t possible, we leave as we did in Vietnam and allow things to sort out by themselves. Having colonies or dependent regimes should be illegal.
Finally, our view of people outside our borders or our culture must match our view of people within. The distinction between the two is almost entirely one of perception rather than reality. If it’s OK to be an American Christian, then it’s OK to be an Iraqi Muslim or an Indian Hindu or a Russian Communist. It should even be OK to be an American Communist or a Russian Capitalist. People being poor or of a different color or speaking a different language or worshiping a different version of the same God or being born on the other side of an arbitrary border doesn’t make them stupid or inferior. We must begin to realize that what we choose to focus on is a small group of extremists similar to those reactionary Americans within our own country. Our irrational and immoral involvement over there has empowered and emboldened these people while weakening the local authorities who had curbed excesses in the past. We must stop thinking that our lives are more important, more significant, or more valuable; that only we have the truth and the “right” way.
For God’s sake, we must stop believing that violence is a panacea, that if we kill enough of them, if we frighten enough of them with massive firepower and destructive potential, they will cower and submit to us and our bullying. As a long-term solution, this just does not work! It is neither fair nor effective and it certainly isn’t what we’re calling it: “keeping the world safe for democracy,” “protecting our country,” or “fighting for freedom.”
“Americans,” as we grandiosely call ourselves, are truly insane. We do the same stupid, short-sighted, ineffectual and bigoted things over and over again each time expecting different results; each time expecting God to bless an enterprise which makes the world meaner, cheaper, and more ruinous. We dream of Heaven, all the while creating fear, destruction, and destabilization; a virtual Hell.
Violence is rarely, if ever, effective in the long run. In a constant barrage of movies, video games, and news and in our churches, synagogues and mosques, we are fed misinformation or at least biased, one-sided information. We, the electorate, must learn from our mistakes. We must look at the world honestly. We cannot bully the rest of the world with pretenses of good intentions. We have been delusional. We cannot continue on this path. It is imperative we choose a different role in the world.
Ending war starts with the Golden Rule, with imagining ourselves in our enemy’s shoes and choosing reconciliation rather than retribution, mercy rather than justice, and compassion rather than hate.
However, if we allow profiteers to run our government and dictate our attitudes and policies, we will stay mired in conflict. It’s a proven fact that war is good for big business. So, inevitably, our fate rests in the hands of our values: do we want more stuff: big, gas-guzzler trucks, the ten richest men in the world, and eating out every night? Or do we want a world in peace and sustainable mutual prosperity?
And, lastly, if I haven’t convinced you that wars must stop, consider that we can no longer hold back the proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. It is only a matter of decades before all of these monstrous means for massive destruction and suffering will be in the hands of gangsters and criminals and it will be our children’s or our grandchildren’s turn to be bullied mercilessly or to suffer and die as so many of our not-so-carefully selected enemies have been.
If we don’t create a more cooperative world, the mustard gas of World War I, the killing of six million Jews and gypsies, the slaughter of three million Vietnamese, the genocides of Serbs, Tutsis, or other “ethnic cleansings” will pale in comparison to the atrocities mankind will inflict on his not-so-distant relatives.
©David N. Dodson, February 2016, Phoenix, AZ
PS: For glimpses behind the scenes, I recommend the following:
- April Glaspie’s interview with Saddam Hussein a week before the US invaded Kuwait, she tells him we’re neutral in his conflict with Kuwait and, backed by our President and Secretary of State. Please note that Bush 43 was an oilman and his VP, Cheney, had a lot of stock in Haliburton.
- Baghdad Burning by Riverbend, an intelligent, articulate young Iraqi woman who tells us what it was like to be invaded and occupied by the United States of America.
- War is a Racket, a short book by Marine Corps Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, who won 2 Congressional Medals of Honor and fought for vet rights after World War I
- Dying to Win, by Dr. Robert Pape, a U. of Chicago sociologist who studied suicide terrorism exhaustively and found almost all suicide terrorism to be motivated by invasion and occupation rather than religion.
- Visual Capitalist; a site showing where our troops are and what we’re spending on “defense” [colonial holdings and superpower perquisites] relative to our allies and the rest of the world.
- Accounting and Fraudulent Business Practices drain pension funds