Erasing War

One telltale sign of encroaching tyranny is the manipulation of language. When the powerful of the early twentieth century learned how difficult it was to market a central bank in the United States, they renamed their efforts a federal reserve and began printing money all the same. When the actions of that central bank resulted in depression after depression, those same people changed the meaning of the word, reclassifying depressions out of existence. When progressivism was discovered as the stepping stone to socialism that it is, progressives in the United States renamed themselves liberals. Finally, when people grew tired of sending their children off to die in war, the U.S. government simply erased the term from their vocabulary.

The U.S. Constitution designates the power to officially declare war to the legislative branch. Since its ratification, Congress has declared a total of five wars, the last being World War II. Shortly thereafter, in 1949, what remained of the Department of War was renamed the Department of Defense, thereby erasing war from the official lexicon.

The U.S. government is currently engaged in the longest war of its history, declared or otherwise. In fact, since erasing war from official discourse, the U.S. government has engaged in its most controversial wars, Vietnam and Iraq, as well as its most extensive efforts of interventionism. With excursions in Korea, Lebanon, Libya, Kuwait, and The Balkans as well as the more recent drone bombing campaigns in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria, the U.S. has been at war nearly every year since renaming its efforts from war to defense. We can only hope that the surviving members of families killed by U.S. adventurism can find some solace in the fact that their loved ones didn’t actually die in war.

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Ten Days Off

One of the casualties of decentralization inherent in the Internet is the credibility of mass news media. Of course, this credibility was in question long before online archived records provided ammunition to skeptics. With each misstep by mainstream outlets comes an onslaught of corrections and exposés detailing ineptitude and bias.

One such event occurred last week when a few outlets were contacted concerning supposed email confirmation of collusion between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign. Seeking any opportunity to establish the stubbornly absent link between Himself and Russia, these usual suspects of progressive media, CNN, CBS, and MSNBC, eagerly ran with an easily refutable story that the Podesta emails were offered up to the campaign ahead of their global release. As Glen Greenwald documents at The Intercept, little effort was made to either corroborate or retract the false story when its lack of veracity was exposed.

While the casual observer might think this represents recent phenomena within an historically reliable industry, that is hardly the case. One need only look at military action of the later 20th century to witness willingness on the part of mainstream media to trumpet refutable stories. From the Gulf of Tonkin incident which paved the way for 50,000 U.S. dead and about one million Vietnamese, to each excursion into Iraq, first in 1990 and then in 2003, mainstream media outlets eagerly swallow Washington’s story. Combine this with an ever active political bias and we might find falsehood to be the norm rather than the exception.

Modern War

We live in a world of scarcity. Conflict results in such a world because multiple individuals may seek to employ the same scarce resources at the same time. For this reason, we have developed rules regarding property rights. The existence of such rules does not eliminate conflict but it does provide individuals with non-violent options for conflict resolution.

All conflict resolution has some cost. A compromise regarding ownership, for example, has the cost of time as well as potential dissatisfaction of one or more of the interested parties. From this non-violent starting point, all other conflict resolution gets progressively more violent and, therefore, more costly. Violent resolution can result in injury or death, each of which greatly increases the cost of resolution, particularly to the injured parties.

It is the high cost of violent conflict that makes it less desirable to those who will bear that cost.  As long as an individual has other, less costly options, they are more likely to avoid violence as a means of conflict resolution. A corollary of this concerns individuals who do not pay the price of violent action: they are increasingly willing to entertain this option.

Modern wars are conflicts where those initiating and overseeing the resolution pay little of the cost: such conflicts are funded by, and fought by, other individuals under their control. Those in power will often claim that war is the last resort, though this is demonstrably false rhetoric: with little cost to themselves, they lack the incentive to seek non-violent conflict resolution. As a result, if we seek to eliminate war, we must either require those in power to participate or, more likely, remove their power to make such decisions.