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Is war inevitable in the Future?

American militarized police in Ferguson USA (Courtesy: The Intercept)

The possibility of conflict especially on a global level is a major issue in everyday life. The world has seen innumerable conflicts since the beginning of history and now the main question of intellectuals is will War continue in the future. Many contend that the continuing socio-cultural evolution of mankind under the guidance of neoliberalism will help make war and conflict obsolete.

However, it is too premature to either proclaim the end of war or the supremacy of the liberal world order. Neoliberalism has not been able to deliver the peace it promised to the world. Indeed, its greatest champion the United States has been one of the greatest engines of warmongering in the current era. As the world heaved a sigh of relief from evading Nuclear Armageddon during the Cold War, the US started a new trend of humanitarian interventions that promoted war instead of ending it. Now after the tragedy of the fall of the twin towers, the US has embarked on a global “War on Terror” against a shadowy, faceless enemy and has sown death & destruction around the world.

The only perceptible shift is the types of war and actors have transformed, as Globalization morphed economic boundaries of the world, it has failed to bring equitable development within states giving rise to new agendas. Now is the time of Open Source warfare. Open source warfare is an organizational method by which a large collection of small, violent, superempowered groups can work together to take on much larger foes (usually hierarchies). It is also a method of organization that can be applied to non-violent struggles.

The last few decades have seen Open Source warfare explode on the world stage, while it has manifested itself in nonviolent democratic means such as the Occupy movement, Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf, the Tea Party and similar groups determined to overthrow the status quo, it has also comes in varying forms of violence. Al Qaeda, Daesh (IS), Hindutva militants, Buddhist extremists and western rightwing terrorists are forces bent on remaking the world order or domestic order at any cost. And while the brutal conflicts to pacify these forces grind on exacting the price in terms of the lives of innocents, newer and more brutal mutations of these nonstate warriors occur.

However, it would not be prudent to blame a single factor for the continuing outrage of war. An examination of the three stages of analysis: individual, state and system one can examine different factors that make War a rather permanent part of the future.

If one looks at the individual one can observe many factors that make War an integral part of human nature. Some assert that Life itself cannot exist without conflict and point to inter-species as well as intra-species conflict over food or territory as proof. Others are more dismissive of humanity as a whole like author Stephen King who wrote “Humans are fundamentally insane as a species” in one of his short stories. Humans have many flaws and it could be said that Self-interest or Greed is one of them. However there are a few who negate this assertion and point to selfless examples in history who sacrificed to their fellow Man and thus showed how violence and greed are not integral to human nature. They hope that modern technology will help in dissemination of education that will help tame mankind’s primal urges for violence and thus by extension put a stop to war. Yet it seems Globalisation has only empowered Man’s greed through tools like MNCs while also helping spread deadly technical knowledge like that of bomb making and radical extremist ideologies to common households.

Coming to the level of state, if one glances throughout history state or the collection of individuals in one way or another have had a lasting relationship with war. In Prehistoric times, tribes of people would wage war over different reasons. The evolution of groups from tribes to cities to feudal kingdoms to Empires and then to modern states has not been able to wean mankind off the thirst for war. Any collection of individuals like the state have its own defined interests for which it will go to war. Liberalism has tried to replace those interests with economic objectives in order to foster cooperation and limit conflict. While they have succeeded in the first they have failed in the latter. Economic interests have become the prime driver of war as seen by the military industrial complex of the USA. Now with the next evolution in statehood will lead to non state actors like Multi National Corporations or sub state groups we may see a continuation of war, as the tools of completing objectives will likely remain the same.

Similarly on the System level, it can be observed that cooperation is failing before conflict. The European Union which was portrayed to be the prime example of transnational cooperation is splintering along cosmopolitan-nationalist and economic lines. The primacy of the US after the dissipation of the Soviet Union has failed to give the world a single hyperpower to end anarchy. Indeed anarchy seems to have slipped into the borders of the nation state or state nation challenging their sovereignty on their own soil leading to more conflict in the form of Violent Non State Actors.

The proclaimed Triumph of Liberalism as asserted in Francis Fukuyama “End of History” has been unable to bring the bounties of Liberalism to the world. Again it would be too presumptuous to assert that the dominance of a single belief system i.e. Liberalism or Marxism who are normative ideologies would bring peace. After all it is not easy to destroy an idea. Despite the fall of the third Reich the existence of Neo Nazis all over the world is testament to the fact. The rise of Communist China and the lingering presence of communist regimes in North Korea and Cuba after the dissolution of the Soviet Union only strengthens the argument.

The triumph of the Neo Liberalism and its complementary Neo Liberal market only seems to have sown the seeds of chaos and conflict instead of cooperation. As stated in “Jihad Vs McWorld” by Benjamin Barber, corporate interests will clash with regional and local conservatism around the world often leading to violent confrontations. Now the chaos unleashed by neoliberalism has caused the emergence of a new foe in the form of Orderism who seeks to defeat the neoliberal unipolar order leading to a new Cold war.

There are some who see the silver lining in the fact that despite the ongoing holocausts in Syria, Iraq, Kashmir, Ukraine, Rakhine, South Sudan and the CAR: the deathtoll in violence is far smaller than the ones in previous wars such as the two Great wars. However that is of small consolation to those losing lives and loved ones in these conflicts. Indeed Open Source Warfare has helped push the violence from conflict prone areas like Aleppo & Mosul to islands of stability like Paris, Brussels and Lahore. The militarization of the police forces as apparent in the suppression of democratic protesters by heavily armed police force in the US is testament to the fact of the war “coming home”.

In the end, it can be concluded that War as a part of Human history will continue in the near future with only changes on the levels as the key units or players who will shift from State to Non State entities.

Jawad Falak

is an M. Phil scholar in the discipline of International Relations at the NDU. Previously he has attained a Gold medal in M.Sc IR and wrote a thesis on the evolution of Militant Hindutva. He is also an ACCA member. Currently Jawad looks after the academics of the CSCR.

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