Sunday, November 03, 2013

From need to greed: Nonviolence to violence, truth to lies

Competition for our essential survival needs may or may not produce violence, but greed will almost certainly produce it. Resources are a factor in virtually all wars, not a necessary factor but a nearly ubiquitous and primary contributory factor. Yes, it's possible to just wage a war for ideology or identity or revaunche or irridentism, but the papered-over resource-control motivations are often stronger drivers for the war designers and can drive their misleading war promotion.

Even resource expert Michael Klare (2012) seemed to miss this a bit when he asserts that "For a few decades in the twentieth century, from the rise of fascism in the 1930s to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, resource concerns became overshadowed by ideological strife as the main cause of international conflict" (p. 209). Klare may be a bit credulous in this singular case; at least for the US, and very likely for the SU, resource issues were not overshadowed by those who fomented wars. Ideology is always a handy Great and Powerful Oz, billowing smoking and bellowing lies on the grand screens of manipulable millions, while most often resource control is the motivator for the little conflict industry men behind the curtain.
The Cold War conflicts almost all featured resource 'concerns'--more accurately, avarice and willingness to take control by violence. After all, rhetoric about democracy fell prey in reality to resource greed when the US overthrew democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala to make life safe for US corporate exploiters in Central America, and when the US removed fairly elected Mohammed Mossaddegh in Iran and gained a lion's share of oil profits there until the Iranian Revolution kicked out our installed dictator, Shah. When Congo elected Patrice Lumumba, which champion of democracy assassinated him and engineered a coup that brought in ersatz nationalist Mobutu Sese Seka so the DRC could be plundered at will by corporate extractive industry? How about all that copper in Chile, removed from US proxy control by the citizens of that country when they elected Salvadore Allende and retaken by a process made possible by US weaponry and training as they rebooted military dictatorship with Augusto Pinochet? These were all made possible by a fig leaf of ideology but were clearly about resource exploitation for the corporate masters who control the mainstream political 'debate.'

Violence is so tainted by corruption in so many cases that it requires a frenzy of propaganda to try to hide that incentivizing greed. After all, as Victoria University historian Phillip Deery (2012) notes about Cold War propaganda, "The allocation of immense resources to diplomatic manoeuvres and military preparations would count for little if societies did not endorse, if not champion, the values that demonstrated their moral superiority" (p. 15).

Only by the most specious exercise of the Big Lie could the US justify its role in any of the violent overthrows of democratically elected governments during the span of the Cold War. Of course, the Soviet Union made it pathetically easy by their own addiction to violence and terrorism. Once violence is the accepted method of struggle, the axiomatic truth misattributed to Aeschylus is ignited: "In war, the first casualty is truth." In the end, violence is based on lies so pervasive, repeated ad nauseam, that even the most attuned experts can be distracted by them.

Deery, P. (2004). PROPAGANDA IN THE COLD WAR. Social Alternatives, 23(3), 15-21. 

Klare, Michael T. (2012). The race for what’s left. New York, NY: Metropolitan. 

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