On War

  • Quite rightly you challenge me about my approach to war and like Clausewitz I am impelled to respond !

    Thucydides wrote on the ‘Causes of Wars’, saying they were a product of ‘ Arrogance followed by Hubris ‘.

    That suggests that wars are most often caused by the psycho-emotional needs, ambitions/deficiencies, personality problems, sometimes monstrous debt, near bankruptcy or total dependency of the Politicians who take our nations into war-time extreme situations on those financiers who have subsidised their careers. Julius Caesar and his relationship with Crassus might illustrate a point!

    I also focus on the power of what Eisenhower in later life alertly and warningly called ‘The Military Industrial Complex’. Today it is the Multi-National Elite (85 people among another  6000 )who control  the Multi-National Corporations. These have devastatingly taken the West into interventions in Korea, Vietnam, Guatemala, Chile, Iran under Mossadeq and in our own day interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and so on. The pathological ambition of politicians is still currently being exhibited through the activities of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Wars are driven by the struggle of these Industrialists/Financiers/Big Business (through their subsidised politicians) for access to and control of natural resources, most often nowadays Oil. The drivers of conflict are very seldom moral or idealistic. The brutal reality is that imperialistic wars are largely driven by material motives!

    My own awareness of the Use of Force suggests that those who direct and order its use  should require subtlety and wisdom .Mere intelligent ability alone does not suffice, It requires profound Strategic, Intellectual and Political awareness  to invoke  the use of  Military Force in complex situations particularly on the basis that most wars end up creating  worse situations than when they were  started.

    In order to illustrate my hypothesis I shall investigate the war-making of Winston Churchill,  Julius Caesar and a famous Greek , Alcibiades.

    I suggest that each of these illustrate the pathology of the driven War-Maker, not to mention Alexander the Great, whom the famous classical historian, Mary Beard describes as a drunken thug !


    The War of the Austrian Succession was a war for the coal and iron resources of Silesia.

    The Seven Years War was a battle for control of the riches of Canada and the East and West Indies.


    The Napoleonic Wars arose from the 1789 Revolution in France .This challenged the power and possessions of the Nobility and Gentry and unleashed the power and aspirations of townspeople and previously dispossessed rural populations. It terrified Monarchs, nobility and landed gentry throughout Europe and Britain and their financial establishments. Fearing for their own properties and futures in the face of potential home revolts they mobilised their Governmental resources, military and Naval ,to resist any French success to the bitter end. After several long years and public exhaustion the Peace of Amiens was signed It is not generally realised that real and Genuine Peace was available in 1803, utterly committed to and accepted by the French/Buonapate only to be maliciously scuppered by Lord Hawkesbury and the British Government. They launched an unscrupulous black propaganda campaign to persuade  reluctant British subjects to fight a war to the death against Buonaparte and revolutionary France. The real story is the British Elite’s refusal to make peace with revolutionary France and the man who personified the success of the Revolution. Thus an unnecessary war continued for the next decade and more. Hence there was  no need for Trafalgar, Austerlitz, the Peninsula War , the Russian Campaign or even Waterloo- all inflicted on the soldiers, sailors and innocent populations by British Elite’s refusal to honour the Peace of Amiens !

    The scale of Elite hysteria in England can be gauged at the end of the Revolutionary Wars by the Peterloo massacre. In 1819 despite Waterloo and the apparent demise of Revolutionary France many British workers still identified with the demand for the rights of ordinary people and saw the Monarchy/ Regency as representing an ‘Ancien Regime’ contemptuous of  the needs of ordinary people.  A peaceful demonstration of 60-80,000 people (protesting against the Corn Laws and calling for Parliamentary Reform) was attacked by Yeomanry and Hussars,; demonstrators were cut down and the rage of soldiers seemed especially directed at women whose breasts were targeted with sabres!  The attackers declared the complete ‘discomfiture of the enemy’ presumably potential revolutionaries, ie. ordinary working people !

    Essentially for the British Establishment the Napoleonic Wars had been a war to keep revolting people in their proper place, the restoration of Peasant type Subservience !

    The intellectual modern General Sir Rupert Smith writing ‘The Utility of Force’ describes the British political/strategic aim as ‘the restoration of the Ancien Regime ‘. That conflict and the revolutionary energies unleashed have  ricocheted throughout the 19th,20th Centuries and are still asserting themselves today.

    But of course lurking alongside the defence of possession and power was the desire to seize the Sugar and Spice riches of the  East Indies from the French and the amazing tin deposits on the island of Belitung. !

    The impact of the war against revolutionary France on normal life in the British homeland was immense and devastating and the later years of the war were characterised by strikes, riots, and Luddism in Yorkshire and Lancashire with the Militia brought in to suppress internal dissent as with the Peterloo massacre. Continuing unrest among working people caused the formation of organised political groups calling for better political representation. In 1819 the Female Reform Society of Manchester denounced ‘the unjust, unnecessary and destructive war against the liberties of France’ stating it had “tended to raise landed property threefold against its value and to load our beloved country with an insurmountable burden of taxation .Thus the war apparently fought to defend the liberties of the British people was actually fought to protect and enhance the liberty and entitlements of the  corrupt  British aristocracy and its ‘ancien regime’  who were actually its only beneficiaries.