On the ‘War on War’ in Modern Geopolitics

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Item urgeat ignem exstinguere in bactrianam
Item urgeat pacem aedificere in bactrianam[1]

Peace is a continuation of politics by other means. The unilateral projection of peace could become a potent political lever and a game changer in international relations, yet ‘peacefare’ and a ‘peace arsenal’ (including confidence-building measures and a conflict-quelling capability) have seldom been looked into. This essay acknowledges there is a deep-rooted ‘law of the instrument’ in international relations, meaning an over-reliance on familiar tools. As Abraham Maslow has said, “It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”[2] We argue that because stakeholders of international relations do not have peacefare as a tool, this has brought them to an almost religious over-reliance on war. Furthermore, this essay suggests the advent of a ‘war on war’—a global war effort solely directed against war as a reified enemy of mankind.
Ascendancy is usually gained in a through domination or bargaining, the first two steps in Galtung’s typology of conflict resolution. The third¬¬—transcendence—is seldom used in practice by states in modern conflict-solving, essentially because it is a game-changer that could redistribute power even domestically, which states and established decision-makers tend to fear and avoid. Besides, there is no culture of transcendence worldwide. Thus from the protracted Korean conflict, to the Israeli-Palestinian one, to the many border conflicts in Central Asia, there is a long record to illustrate how modern diplomats and stakeholders of international relations lack the most basic culture of transcendence. If such culture were to spread, the world would be decisively changed.
Violence against enemies (physical, economic, or psychological, and including intimidation, coercion, deterrence, and cultural imperialism) rather than violence against violence (i.e. ‘war on war’) is still the primary means of projecting power as a prolongation of political intercourses by other means. There is a military-industrial complex, yet no peace-industrial complex, despite the fact that the latter would be tremendously profitable and, this essay submits, could very well be the 2.0 evolution of the former. Such a novel hard-power capability, aimed at muscling out conflicts themselves rather than enemies, could be a very practical tool of foreign relations. This essay explores this tool on which, it is hoped, nations will come to over-rely, just as they did for military might.
Peace is a form of violence against war. As Gandhi said, “I regard myself as a soldier, though a soldier of Peace”.[3] This essay’s approach will thus be to assert that a seamless transition can be made from a military-industrial complex to a peace-industrial complex, in the full interest of all stakeholders. It therefore clearly supports peace profiteering. This essay claims that peace is highly profitable even for the most particular interests; much more so than war will ever be.
This work is theoretical and combines the research of Francisco J. Varela, notably on social autopoiesis,[4] and that of Idries Shah on human potential and automatic thinking. It adds a novel dimension to classical conflict modeling by representing conflicts as autonomous entities that can be targeted and destroyed. Domination and the taking of strategic initiative thus do not necessarily mean the destruction of an enemy’s assets, but the ability to unilaterally destroy any ongoing conflict. This essay considers such an approach in the cases of armed or economic conflicts, from the perspective of outlining a doctrine and a technological blueprint towards a global conflict-quelling capability, which in itself could be a very potent game changer.
Primarily, the notion of a ‘war on war’ may be tracked back in modern times to William James’ seminal essay The Moral Equivalent to War. This essay proposes that conflict-quelling capabilities be precisely consolidated by the sorts of moral equivalent(s) James was researching, and that its psychology be also consolidated by that of a ‘total resistance’, in the sense of Major Hans von Dach. As such, the ‘war on war’ may be introduced as a post-Cold War concept connected to that of civilian-based defense although it goes beyond the classical ’Man against Man’ paradigm. One of its philosophical premises is that of identifying Man’s true enemy: is it man or war itself, as a disease of man?
Wars, viral and evolving processes, have been playing with man for millennia, pushing humanity into a milieu increasingly suited to war’s sustainability and intensity, in a process man himself is barely, if at all, aware of[5] If there may be ‘selfish genes’, the cognitive approach of this essay consists of taking a look into ‘selfish wars’. Wars are viral and from a cognitive point of view, any outside observer would easily be led to think that they actively adjust man’s milieu into something that gives the illusion of control and free will. Such an autopoietic, cognitive approach to the study of war is the spirit of this essay, and it permits us to ask, before the war disease reaches its terminal phase, ‘has man domesticated war, or has war domesticated man?’

Idriss J. Aberkane, Jan 9 2012

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