If you fund it…they will kill…

What if they decided to hold a war and no one came?  What if young men, rather than take up arms, journey far from home, commit acts of violence against their brothers and sisters, and fight and die in strange lands simply decided it was better to find job, fall in love, marry and raise a family?  What if war once again required such great a commitment from so many otherwise comfortable souls and the prices to be paid were so heatedly weighed and debated that the prize almost never outweighed the costs?  What if the civilized world truly understood and had to bear the immediate long-term expense of almost never-ending conflict in the “developing” world rather than ignorantly laying the burden upon their children’s shoulders?   Unfortunately, war in these times is far too easy and simple.  Where once you needed a powerful nation with an effective army, a strong economy, and a cause worthy of mobilizing your entire society, now the only necessary inputs are weapons and money…the army will materialize itself in the presence of these two…the cause itself can be manufactured later, if you even need one at all…

The path to acquiring the first input is relatively simple as your options are as diverse as your situation or imagination will allow for the aspiring third world lord of war.  If your land possesses natural resources, these are a ready-made and relatively sustainable source of income as long as you can secure the proper trafficking routes and buyers on the outside.  Indeed this model has worked well for just about every major African conflict in recent memory where the only thing that changes is the commodity of choice.  The resources don’t even have to be entirely natural for as long as you possess a suitable climate and a relatively police-free area of operations you can simply grow your own in the form of illicit substances as this has worked well for parts of Latin America and Afghanistan.  Definitely though, you must control the smuggling routes or you will risk having to pay outrageous “taxes” which you should be using to fund your army.  Of course, if you happen to straddle one of these convenient routes, go ahead and tax away and let others do the dirty work for you.  After all, few opiates get to Western Europe without passing through Dushanbe or Karachi.

If you lack abundant and resources or good smuggling routes, don’t be too distraught because there are always other options available.  You may unfortunately have to manufacture a cause a bit earlier than you would have otherwise hoped in order to ally yourself with any one of the world’s major power brokers.  This part isn’t too difficult though because there are always a lot of them and then tend to have rather conflicting ideologies so whichever one you choose, you should be able to find a capable backer.  In the Cold War it was all too simple, preach capitalism or communism and all of the sudden money started flowing in from somewhere…and nobody even really cared how free or democratic you wanted to become.  Now it’s a bit more complicated but thanks religious extremism you still have a decent and logical bi-polar operating system from which to start.  If you happen to hold a “legitimate” government or at least know somebody who does this process is even easier and you can even start receiving “official development assistance” as long as you can dance the right jig and grease the right palms.

Once you have money, the next thing you need is weapons and in particular people who know how to use them.  The latter isn’t too difficult because any rural villager or unemployed slum-dweller can pick up an AK-47 or machete and be put to work for the promise of a regular meal or two.  And the whole weapons thing is relatively easy as there are millions (if not billions) of them floating around.  Some may be slightly used and not exactly reliable, but they are weapons nonetheless.  And regardless, once you build up your street cred with using them you will surely find more and more people willing to sell you the newer stuff anyway.  The trick is to always have better weapons than the people you are trying to kill, unless you can compensate with better tactics or advantageous terrain and training, but that takes a bit of actual military skill.

As for acquiring this military skill for your new army, it is actually relatively easy.  There are so many trained people running around the world these days from so many wars and they are always looking for work as for some reason they tend to have difficulty “readjusting” to civilian life.  To acquire their services though, you will probably have to continue to ally yourself with some type of cause, but at this point the rewards are definitely worth the sacrifice to your autonomy as it will certainly allow many of your leaders to attend some type of modern training camp or western military school which will only help you when you decide to give up making yourself filthy rich and actually do a bit of fighting.  As for your foot-soldiers, since few in your society should be steadily employed, there should be a ready supply of young men to fill your ranks, just make sure to give them enough booze, drugs, and women to keep them happy and prevent them from turning on you or asking too many questions.  If you want to appear even more “legitimate” give them some basic uniforms just make sure you have enough stars and medals on your own to demonstrate your superiority.

After that, go ahead and feel free to lay waste to your world.  There really is nothing stopping you until somebody actually does.  But if that somebody happens to be another warlord you can always enter into some type of an alliance with them and split the spoils between yourselves.  If it is a some type of international intervention though you may have to play nice for a while and start talking about “democratic reforms” and such, but don’t worry, their attention spans are usually pretty short and as long as you are sure to stockpile enough weapons you should be good to go when they leave…and you may even end up with the new skill of rigging elections which can help keep them away even longer.  Of course, your life may very well be cut short for any number of reasons but that’s just the risk you accept for your choice of lifestyle…

When did war ever get this damn easy???  We talk about thing like “cycles of violence” or the “conflict traps” but what do they really mean for the steps our society has taken in recent decades.  As we stand on the verge of a virtual end to major-power conflicts, why does it appear so difficult to mop up and finish off the rest of our remaining wars?  We talk of thinks like disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration after conflict but why are these things so difficult in practice?

Even for our own country, the way we wage war has changed drastically over the past decades.  Where we once needed a formal congressional declaration to send our armies oversees to engage enemies in conflicts of vital national interest, now we need little more than an executive directive.  Of course, our legislature is still responsible for allocating funding, but it seems like conflict has grown so well entrenched in our economy that to cut off funding would be an act of virtual political suicide.  Not to mention the cost of cutting funds for troops already serving in harm’s way.  And of course, thanks to our reliance on debt, we don’t even need to really have the money we plan to spend on our conflicts because we can always just create more of it.  For wars that do not involve our actual boots on the ground, the costs are even smaller as few really notice where various forms of military assistance actually end up and those that do can often have their message swayed amid the context of a global war on something or spreading democracy and freedom…even if the dictators and quasi-dictators we support end up killing their own people or funneling resources towards one terrorist group or another.  I think we like to call this “blowback” and for some reason it likes to bit us in the ass later…but more conflict only leads to more money for our corporations and more work for our various quasi-governmental security agencies.

If we truly want to see the end of war in our children’s time, we need to look at the inputs which are so readily available for conflict in our time.  What better ways could we find of spending every dollar we use propping up a foreign military that cannot gain legitimacy on its own?  Perhaps we could find work or development for the unemployed young men who will surely take up a weapon if it means being able to feed themselves or their family.  Or maybe we could solve some of our own social problems which allow the flow of narcotics to be such a lucrative form of conflict funding.  Or maybe we could deal with our own resource dependencies which provide a steady stream of income and relegate national economies decades behind where they should be to start competing in the real global marketplace.  Or maybe we could work at building the actual substance of democratic governments beyond the simple façade of elections every few years where votes are rigged, voters intimidated, and opposition virtually non-existent.  Regardless, we need to find much smarter ways of using our resources.  The world is already too full of men capable of holding weapons and using them effectively.  It’s about time to start finding other uses for their skills and experiences…Someday maybe we will see peace become as lucrative a business as war…

Here’s to something or other…rant over…hope it was at least a bit entertaining…



28 SEP 2011, 2300 AST , Orgun-E, Paktika, Afghanistan




About briangdonnelly

I'm pretty much a random traveler and free thinker. Right now I live and work with the Army in North Carolina. I grew up in Missouri but am from the northeast US and have traveled a lot with the Army and life in general so I can't say I really have a "home" except where I chose to catch a few hours or rack each day. Overall, life is pretty awesome and I'm looking forward to changing the world. Hit me up if you care... Peace, Brian
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