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Worldwide Wars and Anti-Military Options in the 21st Century

Johannes Becker | 21.03.2006 22:21 | Anti-militarism | World

The wars at the beginning of the 21st century are marked by US unilateralism, distribution battles over dwindling resources, the growing gulf between poor and rich and the new role of Islam in this connection.. Offensive wars do not appear winnable today.


By Johannes Becker

[This article published 3/8/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

[Johannes Becker presented the following theses on the 10th anniversary of the founding of the information study group on militarization on 3/5/2006 in Tubingen, Germany.]


1. The wars at the beginning of the 21st century are marked

1.1 by US unilateralism since the end of the East-West confrontation
1.2 by distribution battles over dwindling resources and
1.3 by the growing gulf between poor and rich and the new role of Islam in this connection

2. The role of the European Union as an economic “global player” (.5 billion producers/consumers) is obscure. If its constitution is ratified and observed, the EU will enter into a military competition with the US – a fatal development. Alternatives are manifest.

3. In all states of the EU (and also in the US), the process of “banalizing evil” runs almost without a hitch – the counteracting forces seem marginalized. A “new picture of war” has seized the thinking of people.

4. Since “9/11,” the US has declared “war against international terror” and legitimates this with the policy of “permanent intervention and prevention/preemption.” The driving interests of the US are only peripherally affected by the attacks. Russia also saw itself legitimated by the US- and EU-policy in Yugoslavia (1999) that is through the violation of the UN Charter, to be agents in Chechechnya and elsewhere.

5. New scapegoats are fabricated according to economic and geopolitical interests. In foreign policy, Iraq will have control over a third of the earth’s oil supply in 25 years. Iran today is the fourth largest oil- and gas exporter and the leading political power of Islam. In domestic policy, scapegoats include the “social hammock,” the welfare exploiter, Rhine capitalism, long-term unemployed, immigrants and refugees…

6. Offensive wars do not appear winnable today, e.g. Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq… North Korea has nuclear arms and Iran is striving for that deterrent. In Venezuela, the population is arming itself (by a dictator as the dominant media wants to make us believe). The consequences for all who do not profit from war are clear…

7. Hope comes from Latin America today. Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia clearly follow a different logic of economics. Brazil, Argentina, Chile and others are at least rescued from the claws of military dictatorships. Unilateralism sees itself on the defensive here.

8. Besides the traditional conflicts between pacifists and non-pacifists, the points at issue for the worldwide peace movement include

8.1 assessment of the role of the US versus national imperialisms (for example, in Germany: “anti-Americanism” and “anti-German”),
8.2 assessment of EU militarization in the constitution of the EU (general rejection) and
8.3 assessment of the potentials of supranational organizations like the UN and OSZE.
8.4 The worldwide peace movement is united in principle in the rejection of globalization since 1989/90. The poor become more defenseless and poorer. The strong economies penetrate all markets. In the headwind of “globalization,” neoliberalism even splits the societies of the rich states.
8.5 Conflicts over the character of liberation movements in developing countries (for example, the “Bolivarian revolution” in Venezuela and Cuba) move to the background.

9. Altogether the peace movement has not mobilized a strong non-parliamentary movement against the shift in security policy from an orientation in civil logic to military logic (“German way,” “defense of German interests in Hindukusch”).. This counteracting force also does not exist in neighboring European countries – whose political cultures are strongly interventionist. The connection between the “civilizing” conflict catalysors social cuts (cf. scapegoats) and globalization on one side and extensive militarization on the other side is only seen by a minority.

10. The peace movement and movement research ignore the influence of social- and economic policy on the condition of the country. On one hand, there is the question about the enormous difference in the intervention activity of Germany/EU/NATO (the German army has thousands of soldiers in several conflicts, Germany’s freedom is defended in Hindukusch, the “de-tabooing” of the military was the essential result of the first Schroeder/Fischer period). On the other hand, there is no visible anti-military movement (unlike the 1980s). This has to do with three factors:

a) People are alarmed by the mass unemployment, future fears, lack of perspective of youth, and fears of impoverishment
b) People have internalized the individual blaming by the rulers. The “error” of eight (!) million unemployed is sought with individuals, not with the system!
c) People believe “there is nothing to distribute” in this country. We must especially oppose points b) and c).

Conclusion: The options of the anti-militarist movements include continuous enlightenment about the connections, not becoming discouraged, not succumbing to the “charm of power”, not making rotten compromises and continuing to listen to one another. Be IMI – instinctively-mainstream-ignoring!

Johannes Becker
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