The Anatomy of Wars –Part 2

Monarchies, Autocracies, and Theocracies:

When the nation-state rises based on a person’s whim or in the name of ideology – race or religion, it becomes a one-dimensional state. There is only one yard stick to wield and measure and that is the rulebook of the person, religion, or race.

Just because one says ‘in the name of God or the Chosen One’, their acts cannot be righteous, for there is nobody else who has the right or is alive to question that righteousness. Opposition to unbridled power and authority is culled out.

As we have seen, protests are the essence of people’s right to be heard. In monarchies, autocracies, and theocracies, protests are a violation of the order and even considered treason. People have to fall in line. They are the ‘subjects’ of the reign and ‘followers’ of the order. Freedom and liberty are limited. Even welfare, the other element that freedom balances with, may disappear.

When welfare and liberty both go away, dictatorship begins. Dictatorship is about a person – driven by ideology, theology, or mere autonomy, may drive the decision making, and that means there is a convergence of power, emotion, and imbalance. It is like a volcano waiting to explode. When it explodes, there is war. There is no reasoning, sanity, or debate. The ‘objectives’ must be met, at any cost.

Group B:  Non-State Actors

Non-state actors are those who don’t hold power or position in the ‘state’, but can cause or influence a war. They make two types.

a) Inside the State:

People who can influence war from inside, but not from officials come from different folds. They may belong to social groups advocating or espousing to specific races and religions. The military-industrial complex is the biggest influencer of war in the US. It is the unsaid and unspoken force behind the force.

Industry and trade negotiations between countries can turn sour, or some opportunities may present themselves, driven by geopolitics. Wars are used to settle matters to ensure that a pipeline of opportunities emerges. Consider the opportunities that contract security firms, Big Oil, construction companies, and infrastructure behemoths got in the countries that the US waged war with – Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

The influence plays out in the form of lobbies in the citadels of power – the judiciary, the house, and the executive. Such influences create and operate the levers in such a way that the official decision-makers are obligated to serve these lobby’s interests.

In democracies, elections are funded by influencers, and the funding creates an obligation for the elected to serve the influencers’ interests. In autocracies, the influences are more direct – serving the rulers’ interests in cash and kind, resulting in the influencer’s hold on power. When push comes to shove, the levers are used to push the rulers in the path of war.

b) Outside the State :

Non-state actors have influenced wars through lobbies. Religion is a leading non-state influencer and has fueled more wars than any other group. For the first time, we saw a non-state actor engage in war during the 9/11 events. Such non-state groups carry the tag of ‘terrorists’.  The US declared the war on unknown non-state actors after the 9/11 events.

Such armed conflicts between a state and non-state actor sometimes don’t qualify as wars – but are called ‘conflict’, ‘freedom struggle’, and ‘assault’.  The label is immaterial.

War is a ‘formal’ armed conflict, but we have seen the equivalent in the ‘jihad’ declarations. The rules of engagement, handling of prisoners of war, and refugees don’t really follow the Geneva Convention. We have seen beheadings of captured soldiers in the Middle East and the waterboarding at Guantanamo Bay.

This type of war is the most difficult to one to predict, plan, fight and end. Non-state actors going from influencing war to fighting them is the new and visible evolution of recent times.

People, they are:

Apart from these actors, we know that the people of any country or a group – the attacker or the attacked, don’t sign up for wars unless the reason they are given is overwhelming. That is where storytelling about wars becomes important – the reason that the war is needed for, and the reason why the people can’t do without wars.

War is the creation of humankind. It is essentially an armed conflict fought with weapons, but propelled by people who want solutions and achieve objectives at the cost of human lives. Whether it is the name of a nation or God, wars are human’s creations.

Oh, do not blame the gods for man’s war. Do not blame the hearts of man either, for so many are good, and I say so from being witness to their many acts. If you must blame something, blame the eyelids of us men that seem to close right when peace is in front of us and open right when it leaves.

―Kelleen Goerlitz, The Complete Works of a Lost Girl

As we have seen in my first article, it becomes important to realize that war and peace are entirely in our hands. It will depend on what role we play in the course of history.

The hurdles, tripwires, and barriers we put in the path of war is sometimes not enough. Wars happen when somebody, some force strong enough overwhelms these tripwires and hurtle down the slippery slope towards the flashpoint. Those moments happen we all are asleep.

Like how I heard about Ukraine.

Dad, Russia just invaded Ukraine.’ It was as simple as that.

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?

―Mahatma Gandhi

Bullets and bombs don’t know the reason behind them being fired. They were fired by a twenty-something on a ‘target’. The target is destroyed, and humans are maimed and killed. Whatever is the reason, the war creates dead, orphans, and homeless people. This is the only outcome. Yet, we fight wars.

We have seen the actors in their professional roles of creating wars. In the next and last article of this series, we will examine the human roles in an armed conflict which we call war.

Ashok Subramanian
Ashok Subramanian
Ashok Subramanian is a Poet and Fiction Author based in Chennai, India. Ashok has been writing blogs and content since 2011. From technology and management articles, and to website content, Ashok has written articles on businesses, finance, funding, capital markets, management, strategy, and sustainability over the years. His poems and articles, which were published in blogs got a publishing turn when he had time in hand to put together his poetry and short story collections. He publishes short stories and poetry reviews regularly in his medium.com blog. His published works so far: a) Maritime Heritage of India - Contributing Writer - b) Poetarrati Volume 1 &2: Self-published on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback; Ranked #8 in Amazon Hot Releases in May 2020. c) A City Full of Stories: A Short fiction Collection based on people and events of Mumbai: Self-published in Amazon in Kindle and Paperback. d) Poetarrati Ponder 2020 - A collection of Poem Reviews He is currently working with his creative advisor and publisher on his next poetry collection. His second short story collection about Kolkata, India, and his first novel are in the manuscript stage. He is a graduate in Engineering from Madurai Kamaraj University, India, and a post-graduate in Management from IIM Calcutta, India. He currently runs Strategic Advisory and Investment Banking companies headquartered in Bengaluru. He lives with his wife Gayathri and son Anirudh in Chennai, India.