Gregory Sams
Gregory Sams
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It's Not Just War

Strange times that we pass through. We have a war on our doorstep - one which most of us probably try not to think about, avoiding the seriously bizarre stories and harrowing photos filling the news media. It is a madness, and one in which this country is involved. In this war, which has never been declared, we have a classic example of the failure of coercion as an effective tool for managing behaviour. The sad thing with coercion is that the reaction of its proponents, when they see it is not working, is to apply more of it! They assume that the technique is correct, but they just didn't use enough the first time. This approach, as now seems clear, has greatly increased the damage to the people and property which the application of coercion was intended to stop. You can be sure that few Kosovan Albanians will ever be going home again. Should a land invasion succeed, the radioactive and chemical debris of NATO warfare would render the place itself dangerous to future inhabitants.

In the escalating attacks upon civilian facilities such as power plants, TV stations, oil refineries, companies, and manufacturing facilities (some making military product too), we see a morality lower than that of the IRA, who normally give warnings before blowing anything up, thus giving innocent civilians a chance to evacuate. One of the reasons for the targeting of primarily civilian targets, is that NATO are finding it very difficult to damage Milosovics' war machine, most of which is securely kept in nuclear-proof underground storage. They have though, managed to destroy many of the thousands of cardboard tanks and cardboard rocket launchers used as decoys by the Serbs, and placed in areas of Kosova they seek to cleanse. Further stocks of military hardware are readily available to Serbia from stockpiles held privately by Russian generals, created by overstating hardware use and losses during the Chechnya war, and the Afghanistan war before it.

We may have questioned why Yugoslavia is being singled out for its barbaric practices and not, say, Turkey for its repression of the Kurds, Israel for its flouting of UN resolutions on Palestine, or Indonesia for its ongoing cleansing of East Timor. The answer lies not in an understanding of geography or relative morality, but in a recognition that those countries purchase their weapons of oppression and destruction from western manufacturers and are therefore friendly allies. Yugoslavia has for many years been a major manufacturer of arms, and a prime exporter of weapons to Africa and other parts of the world. Some of the groundwork of this war was laid in 1997, when Bill Clinton visited Europe for the Nato enlargement summit, gunning for the £ 22 billion market in re-arming eastern Europe. Yugoslavia is the only serious competitor in the area. As its neighbours join NATO, they can look forward to being armed to the teeth in order to preserve the peace - most of it funded by grants raised coercively from western taxpayers.

Obviously, the best way to secure new orders for weapons is to engineer the usage of existing ones. Vast quantities of American and NATO weaponry are being exploded - some of them, such as cruise missiles, costing in excess of a million dollars each and having a value far greater than the target that is being hit. It is puzzling why anyone would spend a million dollars to destroy a $100,000 target, but then the only equation going on is the replacement cost, and that will be met by taxpayers. It may shed some light on the conundrum to consider that most of the top military brass in the USA, on retirement, take up well-paid positions in the weapons industry.

To understand the crucial difference between the arms industry and all others, take a look at the chapter in Uncommon Sense titled "The Arms Industry Toilet."

(Published in may/jun 1999 Dream Creation Magazine - UK)

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