PART II

THE CAUSES OF WAR

Part II is in response to questions challenging the proposed hypothesis that injustice is the cause of war.

         Injustice is the cause of war, and there will be no peace in the world until we start to think and act with justice for all human beings. This ideology was also advocated by the Peacemaker, one of the greatest leaders and thinkers of the Iroquois nation, who “. . . believed that if absolute justice were established in the world, Peace would naturally follow.” ( Akwesasne Notes, Basic call to consciousness) Others will question the veracity of this statement and to debate may argue: “Did Hitler act out of injustice done to him or Germany?” or “Did Spain conquer Mexico because of injustice?”

         The nature of these questions reveals a misunderstanding of the statement rather than a disagreement with its reasoning. An analysis of these questions, no matter how they are answered, can only confirm the veracity of the statement. If the first question is answered: Yes, Hitler did act out of injustice done to him or Germany. (It. is clear that the treaty of Versailles left Germany in an impossible situation for its continued existence as an sovereign nation in Europe.), it becomes clear in the very nature of the question, that injustice was the cause of war. A negative answer only emphasizes the injustices committed by the Nazis against their enemies, especially to the Jews.

         The second question, “Did Spain conquer Mexico because of injustice?” is a question of ambiguous meaning. Thus, it becomes necessary to understand the intention of the question. Is the conception of injustice in this question being applied to Spain in its treatment against Mexico, or to Mexico against Spain? In any case, the very act of “conquering” a people or a country is inherently unjust (Practices common to European countries against "third world" nations since the 16th century).

         The word conquer can be used in many ways. For example, in the romantic sense it may be used to signify that a lover gained a woman’s love by conquering her heart. However, in this question the meaning of conquer, goes beyond the conception of overthrow, subjugation, overcome, or victory, not only for Mexico but for the entire New World. To be conquered meant virtually complete destruction; it meant massive genocide, and incomprehensible, inhumane brutalities. As Todorov explains,
         “…in 1500 the world population is approximately 400 million, of whom 80 million inhabit the Americas. By the middle of the sixteenth century, out of these 80 million there remain ten. Or limiting ourselves to Mexico: on the eve of the conquest, its population is about 25 million; in 1600, it is one million.” ( Tzvetan Todorov, The conquest of America). There are eyewitness accounts of the atrocities during this period, including a “…report of a group of Dominicans addressed to M. de Xeries, the minister of Charles I (the future Charles V), in 1519; it concerns events in the Carib islands. As to the way in which children were treated:
“         Some Christians encounter an Indian woman, who was carrying in her arms a child at suck; and since the dog they had with them was hungry, they tore the child from the mother’s arms and flung it still living to the dog, who proceeded to devour it before the mother’s eyes;... When there were among the prisoners some women who had recently given birth, if the new—born babes happened to cry, they seized them by the legs and hurled them against the rocks or flung them into the jungle so that they would be certain to die there.
’”
The atrocities practiced by the conquistadores of that time are still in practice today, used against the Indians of the Amazon Basin in South America.

         In order to make it easier to understand the initial statement about war, let us establish certain points of perspective. First, war is usually a result of a conflict of interest between the parties involved that was not resolved by diplomacy. War is not a cause in itself, but a consequence. Eventually a war can be waged because of another war, but even in this case, the second war is a reflection of the first war; therefore it is still a consequence. Thus, our initial statement could be rephrased as: ‘War is a consequence of injustice, and there will be no peace in the world until we start to think and act with justice for all human beings”. Second, because of the nature of war, and its processes of killing and destruction, war also causes many injustices. For example, there are injustices committed against the soldiers who many times give their own lives, or parts of their bodies, but yet are usually not well compensated. There are also injustices committed against the family members of the soldiers that lose their loved ones, especially in male oriented societies (which include most of the societies in the world) since those men are the ones who provide most of the income for their families. Third, in any war there is almost always a party that is the aggressor, and consequently, another party that is naturally put on the defensive. Furthermore, it is possible that in some cases the parties involved come up with the idea of going to war against each other simultaneously.

         The value of the opening statement could still be challenged with an argument such as: “Some wars are fought with the sole purpose of achieving justice, or to liberate a people from an unjust occupation”. Again, this argument reveals that there is still a misunderstanding about the original statement. This misunderstanding is about the difference between the causes of war and the purposes for which wars are fought. The causes are unjust social conditions, but the purposes could or could not be legitimate, justifiable objectives. To respond directly to the argument, if the purpose of the war is the achievement of justice, that is because injustice has being committed if it is for liberation, that is because a people have been conquered.

         This subject could not be completed without at least a brief mention of the topic of revolutionary warfare. Revolutionary warfare is different from other forms of wars; one of the main differences is that revolutionary warfare is a war of the masses of the people against the conditions of injustice under which they live, created by their own government, “In contrast to other forms of warfare, revolutionary warfare is always directed not only at defeating the enemy by military means but at the mass involvement of the people as a crucial part of the process.”.(William H. Friedland, R. Revolutionary Theory ) It involves the total participation of the people in the process of the war, from the political ideologies and mobilization of the masses, to the actual fights.
         “The crucial distinction between revolutionary warfare and standard warfare is that the former is dedicated to involving the people directly in most aspects of military and political action. Rather than leaving warfare to soldiers as specialists, revolutionaries regard the involvement of the population in all aspects of war, fighting, and production, as a vital element.” (William H. Friedland, R. Revolutionary Theory ).

         Because war is a reaction to certain conditions, it is in these conditions that one will find the motives that lead to war. As mentioned before: the excuses given as motives for wars usually range from supremacy over territories and dynastic claims, to political or ideological differences etc. Obviously these motives will result in new conditions of unjust imposition upon those whom the war is being waged. Even when the motive (excuse) is to impose peace, as in W.W.II., when the slogan of the Allies was: “a war to end all wars”, it was still an attempt to impose conditions upon some countries. Yet, can real long—lasting peace be imposed? Or should it be negotiated? Under what conditions is this “peace” being enforced? (Remember what happened when the Allies tried to impose peace upon Germany after W.W.I.) According to the definition of justice and injustice, any imposition of party interest that does not consider the necessities and legitimate universal rights of those upon whom the conditions are being imposed, is unjust.
         “Peace was to be defined not as the simple absence of war or strife, but as the active striving of humans for the purpose of establishing universal justice. Peace was defined as the product of a society which strives to establish concepts which correlate to the English words Powers Reason and Righteousness. “Righteousness” refers to something akin to the shared ideology of the people using their purest and most unselfish minds.... The principle of Righteousness demands that all thoughts of prejudice, privilege or superiority be swept away and the recognition be given to the reality that the creation is intended for the benefit of all equally. “Reason” is perceived to be the power of the human mind to make righteous decisions about complicated issues. “Power” the Power to enact a true Peace is the product of a unified people on the path of Righteousness and Reason.., the power of persuasion and reason, the power of the inherent good will of humans…”. (Akwesasne Notes, Basic call to consciousness)

II

         The question of the causes of war is an issue that intrigues scholars from all areas of human knowledge. They study the problem with great depth, trying to comprehend the causes that motivate man to engage in certain activities.
         “The control of destructive violence between individuals and nations is one of the major practical problems of our times. Its consequences are so great that it deserves a major scientific effort directed toward its solution, and its causes are so many and so various that scientists from almost every discipline, from mathematics through physiology and biological sciences to the social sciences, have something to contribute.” (Ashley Montagu, Man and Aggression).

         Perhaps what motivates scholars to look into this subject is the necessity to be able to maintain control over the devastating power of destruction achieved by war. As we have discussed before, even though war could be pointed to as the vehicle through which societies achieved great “development”, it has also being the vehicle for the downfall of many civilizations. Today it threatens the very existence of our entire world. “The threat of war . . . presents a clear and present danger to human survival...” ( Richard Falk, Samuel S Kim, and Saul H. Mendlovitz, Toward a Just World Order ) Therefore it has become imperative to maintain the control over this shameful aspect of humankind. In other words we must find ways to enforce the rules of the game, and make them strong enough to keep warfare under control and prevent total war.

         Here let us briefly consider the various explanations of war according to different sciences. For example, Psychologists tend to think that is in the depth of the mind of men that we will be able to find the causes of war; it is in the labyrinths of the human psyche and its reactions to the complexities of the structures of our social—economical societies that are hidden the answers to the problem. Conversely, it is man’s frustrations, doubts, insecurities that trigger feelings of aggressiveness, and even in the need of self identification, that lay the reasons for which we go to war. In Ethnology man is perceived as an animal and his instinct of aggressiveness is seen as the strongest instinct to guarantee his survival. Thus, instincts such as defense of territories for security are among the biggest reasons for war. In the field of Anthropology, man is the product of his environment; it is society and its values which are to be blamed for the causes of war. Even mathematicians have proposed a quantitative explanation of war, with a magic mathematical formula; they created a system that if applied properly can predict the various aspects and outcomes of a specific war. In contrast, historians will look into the problem from a historical perspective, with the tendency of ignoring all the above explanations. For Philosophers, war is a consequence of the evolution of the thought of man. In addition, there are also the theologians who will blame the problem on God. Finally, for Politicians the issue becomes ideology, and for the Economist a matter of economics, etc.

         While the various disciplines give different explanations for the causes of war, in general they limit themselves to their own specialties, failing to analyze the problem from a broader perspective that encompasses all aspects of human activity.

CONCLUSION

         Through the study of war in history we realize that overall war has followed a path of escalation. Also, with a more specific study about the causes of war, it becomes more evident that the primary cause of war is the condition of social injustice. Furthermore, because war also produces injustices, a vicious cycle is created; war is caused by injustices and it creates more injustices, which in turn become motives for more wars and more injustices. Many think that war is inevitable, that it is an inheritance from our evolution of being animals; this may be or may not be true.( See, Ashley Montagu, Man and Aggression, chapter of ‘War is not in our genes’) Let us remember that no other animal makes wars and rarely do “superior” animals kill one of their own kind. For “. . . among all strongly aggressive animals there is a very powerful inhibition against killing con—specifics (the biological term for others of one’s own species)..., among mammals, a common mechanism is simply the flight of the weaker combatant. The victor does not pursue him; the fact that he gives in is satisfaction enough.” (Ashley Montagu, Man and Aggression )

         Nonetheless, some people believe that it may be possible for humans to live without war; “Human society existed for thousands of years before the institution of war arose.” ( Richard Falk, Samuel S. Kim, and Saul H, Mendlavitz, Toward a Just World Order) Yet, in our modern world, in order to envision and construct a global society without war, we must broaden our concept peace. As Falk, Kim, and Mendolovitz wrote in Toward a Just World Order:
         “Traditional peace thinking tended to be preoccupied with negative peace, that is, with the absence of direct violence. Our perspective is concerned with negative peace and with positive peace, which is the absence of structural violence resulting from hunger, poverty, and social injustice. Our world order approach in turn takes account of the impact that the war system has on the values of economic well—being, social justice, and ecological balance.”

Part III
Women and War
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