Few things make my palms more sweaty than a political leader telling me that the war into which he wan't to lead us is "noble." They say that every war has its own excuse, but behind of every call to arms is some guy (usually a man in a suit nowadays) telling us that it is not only necessary but noble. If every act of war was as noble as the leaders tell us it is then we would be an awfully noble race. The problem is that there is something sick and twisted about the very idea that killing people can ever be a noble act. But that is the great lie that leaders must sell in order to rally people behind the flag.
There is one sense in which we can see war as a failure. Most wars seem to be a result of the failure of politicians and policy makers in one way or another. Many historians talk of WWII being a direct result of the shortcomings of the Treaties at Versailles. The past looms over us like a deathly shadow threatening to burst out again in another useless conflagration. Politicians beat the drums of the past to whip up the war-like sentiment of the people as the French leaders did at the beginning of WWI with Alsace-Lorraine. Or they use some supposed immanent threat which, upon examination, is actually the direct result of their own failings in the first place. This is the situation in which we now find ourselves. The existence of ISIS is a direct result of a century of outrageous, colonial-minded decisions on the part of the Western powers. More recently, it is the direct result of a series of unbelievable failures in Iraq and Syria. A long history of supporting dictatorships until it is no longer convenient and then completely ill-considered invasions with a dramatic lack of understanding of indigenous political issues. All this against the backdrop of a continually one-sided approach to the Palestine Question, an approach that is a never ending source of recruitment for radially anti-Western Islamic groups.
The West makes bad policy, supports dictators, sows discontent, and then through military adventurism it creates power vacuum that results in another threat or conflict. How many times are the leaders going to ask us to support another war that is the direct result of their failings?
But then there is another, perhaps more cynical (perhaps more accurate) view of these events. Perhaps these are not failures on the part of our leaders but successes. They might be viewed as such if one remembers the amount of profit that is made by large corporations each time another one of these military adventures comes along. Let us not forget that each time the US launches another Tomahawk Missile at ISIS, McDonnell Douglas makes another cool million. And let us also remember the trillions of dollars that was spent in the war in Iraq, some of it going to arms dealers and manufacturers, some to infrastructure builders, and a great deal of it now entirely untraceable. Perhaps behind their rhetoric of the nobility of war, the simple profit motive is the real success story here.
No, there is nothing noble in Harper's war, the war that he has been longing to get into for over a decade and the one that he hopes will get him reelected. None of us doubt that ISIS is a bunch of terrible people. But it is Western wars and militarism that brought them into a position of power in the first place. More war isn't going to solve the problem. It is less war and more peace and development that we need. This is just another white man in a suit who is diverting tax money to arms dealers in a never ending cycle of conflict while the real injustices that feed the conflict go unaddressed.