Friday, September 05, 2008

Why War?

Mein Kampf Chapter 17 Part 1

Why War? Conclusion Part 1

By Richard E. Noble

I began this work with a number of questions; Why war? Why the Jews? How Adolf? What did Adolf actually say? Where was he coming from historically, philosophically, and theologically? Reading the book has led to another question that has always bothered me. Where did Adolf get his money?

I don't know if I have gotten any real answers to these questions, but I think that I have discovered many insights, and have developed a clearer understanding of Adolf and where he stood. I think that I know Adolf a lot better.

Although, he is not really the type of individual that I would normally want to know better.

In conclusion I would like to review these insights primarily for my personal benefit.

Why War?

Reading Adolf has caused me to do considerable other readings and investigations.

Reviewing the History of Mankind and observing his behavior makes it clear that the real question here is not Why War? War seems to be as much a part of the human adventure, as breathing. I read briefly an account by someone who said that man initially was not a belligerent beast, and that the basic nature of man was really one of love and cooperation. If this is true the history books do not tell the same story. The question Why Peace? would seem much more appropriate, viewing man from the scope of recorded history. In this regard, Adolf should be judged as very much on the mark with his attitude towards War.

Historically Adolf was certainly a conservative and a traditionalist. He believed in War, and the power of might in much the same vein as Alexander the Great, Constantine, Julius Caesar and all the rest - including many modern day Americans. If Adolf read History books which it seems that he did, they did not repulse him. They only served to feed his fire. He loved the killing and the conquering, and certainly considered himself to be one of a long line of conquering heroes. The dead bodies, persecutions, murders, rapes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the past great rulers, are only read about in the footnotes of history books, says Adolf. All that is truly remembered is the great monuments, buildings, and the length of their reign. Adolf would have a thousand year Reich, and create a wealth of Temples to be remembered.

Adolf was consistent with history. Why try to deny War, he offered. Why not glory in it and its heritage of bravery and tradition. People who seek peace, and the preservation and cooperation of all, are not only stupid fools who are unaware of the history and tradition of mankind, but cowards who don't even have the guts to fight for their own survival. Those who are not willing to fight must resign themselves to the fate of extinction.
Maybe this is exactly what has happened to them and their kind throughout the centuries.

The argument between the alternatives of peace and war seem to be never ending.

Why peace?

Where did the notion of peace come from? Eisenhower seemed to feel that the common man wanted peace but their governments were forever bent on war. I think that when Warrior leaders saw opposing armies who held the threat of cutting down their enemies in proportionate numbers, many a ruler was forced to contemplate the advantages of Peace, i.e. the Upanishads. Many religious leaders often began their careers appalled by the horrors of violence and war.

They spoke out on behalf of peace and love. Very shortly they were either killed or replaced by the more violent, or were themselves converted to or entrapped by the power that they had engendered with their own teachings. Then, they were turned to the road of violence themselves.

But are the masses led to War against their will, or do they too find satisfaction in the pillage, battering, and self destruction? Is it not the Kings and Princes, not the lords and nobles, not the dictators and presidents, not the politburo, parliaments, and congresses but the nature of the beast himself or herself? Are we innately self destructive? Are we innately hostile, and aggressive? Is the killing of others more or less the expression of our own death wish? And then, if so, why is it that we seek death, and self destruction?

I make the case that this self-destructiveness stems basically from the fact that we are a product of an arbitrary existence. No one asked to be born. Yet we are all here. And then, usually very early on, we learn that we can 'not be here' by a caprice. We can not be here with no consultation. We must, by necessity, be here, with, by and because of the hand of the 'Unknown.' This proposed fact is the stimulus behind all theologies, all mysticisms, all religious beliefs. The questions brought to mind because of this realization are the basis for all of philosophy. Who, What,

Where, Why, How?

But why does this mystery lead to hate and violence? Could it not lead us to excitement and curiosity?

Death, disease, suffering, pain; these things frighten us. When we see them attack our loved ones they make us angry. We want to strike back at the culprits, or culprit. But there is no culprit, or He is too powerful for us to challenge.

I think of this analogy. A person ties a dog out to a tree in the back yard. The dog is trapped there against his will (life). He may or may not necessarily become mean, but then each day he is also kicked or beaten with a stick, or if not beaten, threatened, screamed and yelled at (abused). I doubt that any dog worth his salt wouldn't eventually become aggressive, if not out right mean.

As human beings, we are placed in the cage of life. We are prodded with the sticks of pain, suffering, hunger, helplessness, sickness,loneliness and disease. We are then threatened and goaded as Edgar Allen Poe describes for us in his "Pit and The Pendulum,"BY the Pendelum, second by second, minute by minute, ticking away our very existence - the never ending threat of death, and our possible extinction. Worse yet, by the constant and repetitious prodding of an eternity of more pain and anguish. Along the way, least we forget, someone next to us is struck down, a friend, a relative, a stranger. Mark Twain and others discuss this very feeling in many of their more serious written contemplations. Isn't War nothing more than a passion play re-enacting the trauma of our very lives. Men forced into situations filled with pain, death, and the burning frustration of being controlled by un-asked for circumstances?

Every dead body a reminder of our own destiny. Pain, suffering, and possible extinction at every corner, all brought to the foreground where it must be confronted and not denied, ignored, rationalized, or sublimated. All the lies and fantasies are obliterated, and now one must face life in its raw cruelty.

For Adolf, to face the Executioner bravely and eye to eye, seemed the most courageous of acts, and to give up ones own existence for a comrade or for a cherished cause, the ultimate sacrifice. He saw in the act of standing up to death, a man's greatest moment of courage. And from that time on he tried to recreate this experience in his own life and everyone else's. We can only wish that he had gotten involved in literature as opposed to politics. We might have had a great novel, instead of a great war.

In my brief reading into psychology and the psyche of man and men and women, I have seen a common occurrence - people re-living and re-enacting in their daily lives the emotional traumas of their past life. Over and over, they go about recreating on their own the basic experience of their initial trauma. For example a young boy loses his mother - a mother whom he loved dearly. He then proceeds to go through life building loving relationships with women, only to eventually destroy these relationships at some point along the way. It almost seems that he is recreating the tragic feelings of that initial loss. Not until it is pointed out to him that he is doing what he is doing, or he comes to a personal realization of what he is doing, is he able to deal with his problem and correct it.

That is what I am trying to do here. The situation seems so obvious to me, but yet mankind throws up one defense mechanism after another. One fantasy, one delusion after another, but no matter how well intended, these attempts at escape almost invariably lead to the same round-a-bout re-enactment. It seems to me that the real answer here is to face the reality of our situation here as living/dying creatures and somehow learn to deal with it in a mature intelligent way. You can't run and you can't hide, but you don't have to kill yourself or others because of it. You don't really have to seek death out. It will find you and everyone else soon enough. In the mean time there is so much to experience, to learn, to enjoy. There is no need to think of one's self as a coward because he doesn't seek out death or fabricate situations and scenarios that promote it in our personal lives, as well as the lives of our nations. Relax, my friend, relax.

Why War?
The military industrial complex and the military itself?
When we talk about our forefathers and what the first settlers really wanted in relation to a new nation, it can become interesting. In the beginning, most Colonists didn't want a military at all. They didn't want a Navy or a standing Army. Their argument was that the fact of a military in itself was basically an act of war. If you had no intention of attacking others why did you need an organized Military structure at all? Well how about self defense, you ask? That is why every colonist had a rifle at his back door, and why they had a voluntary neighborhood militia. Ah yes, in the good old days before the advances in weaponry, I suppose that this could seem reasonable. Today we would all need, at our back door, intercontinental ballistic missiles, tanks, computer guided rockets and atomic bombs. In those days the Americans had the most sophisticated weapon on the market, the long rifle. With the long rifle that they used primarily for hunting they could shoot something at a great distance with accuracy. This came in very handy in the American Revolution where the colonist hid at a distance behind trees and picked off the British. The British were armed with their short range inaccurate military issue rifles. They were thus forced to line up in rows and fire in unison in order to blanket an area with shot in the hopes of hitting something.

But this was the good old days when they didn't believe in military. They didn't believe in taxes. They believed in independent states as opposed to strong centralized government. They hardly believed in having a government at all.

But, as Adolf has said, it does little good to talk about what used to be, one must look at the facts as they stand today.

In reading Adolf, it would be impossible not to notice that he is a militarist. This he makes quit obvious. But, it seems, that since every nation in the world recognizes the need for a strong defense, militarism has become pretty much a way of life. There is no doubt in my mind that it is Adolf's militaristic attitudes and prejudices that were the primary causes of his aggressive behavior in Europe. But because we all look at a military as absolutely necessary to the protection of our homes and families, we simply overlook this fact, and in our attempts to find a solution to the question of 'why war' we look elsewhere.

The perfect example here would be the Nuremberg trials initiated by Harry Truman.

The first question about the Nuremberg trials that I have is; Were they established for the purposes of laying a ground work for an international law, and to punish acts of aggression and crimes against humanity; or were they orchestrated primarily for political purposes advantageous to the goals of the burgeoning cold war?

World War II was primarily a political misconstruction, precipitated by the politics of anti-communism. Aside from that, what were the accomplishments of the Nuremberg trials? Well, aggressive acts of war were declared illegal, internationally. For the first time in History it was decided that War, other than in self-defense, was a crime, and that the attitudes of militarism which advance the glory and righteousness of dominance and aggression preached by Adolf and other militarists were immoral and socially indefensible.

Secondly, it was judged that certain atrocities or types of atrocities even in war were ultimately the responsibility of the individual. And that individuals could and should be held accountable. But the main issue of war was not even discussed.

Namely; to what degree is the Military and the military establishment and the military industrial complex itself to be held responsible? This question was not even asked or considered. This should have been the main thrust of the entire program at Nuremberg. A paucity of the military elite were executed, but not one arms merchant received more than a slap on the hand, nor was any of their possibly sinister war time activities ever brought to the foreground. Alfried Krupp, probably the biggest and most powerful war merchant in the world, had a short stay in a German prison. My guess is he was more than likely treated as Adolf was in his stay in prison; like a celebrity, and national hero as opposed to a criminal. Krupp emerged from his short stay in a German prison, to then become, the richest man in the world. He 'consulted' on the construction of munitions technology all over the world. If we accept that aggressive war is a crime, once again it seems that the old adage that crime doesn't pay, bites the dust. This is without considering any of the accusations against Krupp on count number two; crimes against humanity.

One of the problems that I see in reading about Nuremberg is that for the most part we had the military establishment judging the military establishment. To watch the Militarily inclined and indoctrinated try to put themselves on the couch of self-analysis and moral judgement almost becomes humorous. As far as I can see the Nuremberg trials left the military and the military establishment with hardly a bruise. On deciding that aggressive war was a crime, they were able to draw a line and document a case against the Germans. But, even on this issue, nothing was brought up about the possible collusion with regards to the financing and motivation of Adolf on his road to aggression by independent factions inside and outside of Germany. Today, a half a century later, we are just beginning to investigate the question of who financed Adolf Hitler. The answers are getting quit embarrassing for a lot of peoples and nations.

On the second issue of crimes against humanity, and the responsibility of the individual the line is a good deal less visible. The Russians hardly wanted to bring up the subject of atrocities, and the question of the slaughter of the entire Polish officer’s corps was declared out of bounds. On the issue of determining the individual responsibility with regards to the decision of killing innocent civilians, drawing a line was never even discussed. The indiscriminant carpet bombing of large cities, industrial or otherwise, not to mention the atomic bombing of urban metropolises and the executing of entire communities for possible guerrilla activity, never made the ballot box. Even the concentration and extermination camps, became very difficult to discuss. The bottom line is that it is very, very, difficult to fight, or conduct a 'humane' war devoid of passion, hate, injustice and even atrocity.

In my point of view, in any attempt to lessen the propensity of the human race towards war, the military structure, goals, training, and basic system must be reconsidered. In the United States they should be considered and redefined according to our principles as outlined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and put in their place with respect to our faith in our democratic principles. In other words, I believe in democracy and, in this light, I believe in the complete democratization of the Military structure. The basic philosophy of Militarism as exemplified in Mein Kampf and articulated by Adolf is still the basic handbook for militaries throughout the world. Reading the letters or memoirs of General Patton, or Romel, or Montgomery, or MacArthur, or DeGaulle, or Sadamn Hussein will probably reveal more similarities with this work of Adolf than disagreement, at least in military principle.

Secondly, something must be done with regards to the military industrial complex. We have what we call the separation of 'Church' and state; we must devise some serious separation between the Military and the Arms manufactures, and the military and the political structure.

How all of this should be accomplished will take better minds than mine, and a good deal of intelligent thought, by historians, philosophers, theologians, moralist, sociologists, Generals, serious politicians, and all peace loving people of the world. I don't have the answers but if war is ever to be overcome this is one direction that must be taken. Not to face these issues is to circumvent the roots of the problem entirely.

In analyzing the question of why war, or why anything for that matter, we inevitably get involved in the how and not the 'why'. At best, man seems to be able to investigate the 'how' and very rarely, if ever answers the question of 'why'. Why God? Why Evil? Why Man? Why Reason? Why the universe? Why Death? Why Suffering? Why hate? Why Love? Why war? Why sex? To be honest I don't think that we know the why of nearly anything, and only a slight smattering of the how of very few phenomena. Yet the human race runs around glorying and praising itself on its very few minor insights, which have been proved throughout history to never have been entirely correct once stated. If I were to make a statue representing the whole human race, it would be a caricature of an over inflated, pompous braggart, so full on the fat of his self-righteous delusions that he is totally incapable of seeing the truth, and wouldn't recognize it, if it stepped up to him and slapped him in the face.