by Vinício Carrilho Martinez*
Translated and Reviewed by Matheus Lucas Hebling
Is the war the overused politics or is the politics the understated war?
There is too much and too little to say about war – any war at all. So, in a way, we are going to deal with the Principle of War.
War is a human typology. But it’s not the worst side of the human being, it’s just its expression/extension. We are just that: belligerents. This may shock some, but humanity is just that: wars x wars. What varies over time are the justifications or interpretations. What does not change is the fact that war is a constant, a kind of prehistoric “social fact”.
It can be said that “We are the war”: from the humanoid primate (with similarities to chimpanzee cousins, who devour each other – slaughtering their neighbors for the “need to possess a stream or a banana tree”), to the barbarian hordes, the Roman invasions, the Crusades, the indigenous warriors and cannibals in Brazil (see the Tupinambás) or, now, the Russian War against Ukraine.
There are also many attempts to define war more elegantly – as if we needed a concept to justify the indefensible: finding an excuse to indiscriminately, convulsively kill other human beings. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not fail – they did not fail in the fascist outcome of the fascist war. One of these definitions tells us that “war is the continuation of politics” or “war is politics taken to extremes” – or even: “war is the decisive politics”. In addition to the fact that these assumptions/explanations are mere theoretical arrangements, “excuses”, there is an undeniable association with political praxis.
With this perspective, they want to say that there is asymmetry, a duet between war and politics; as if politics were an “unarmed war”, with brutal effects, but without the use of nuclear warheads or genocide – which is an arbitrary abuse, because the Cold War, for example, was (and is) very hot (so hot that we were on the brink of extinction – and it looks like we are back in 2022). The other absurdity is not seeing in genocide a racist political action.
In the same way, the association between war and politics implies another serious error, since it places an inflection that is only superficial, apparent as if politics were peace, necessary, and preceded by war. Now, what is meant by peace is only an interregnum, a lapse of time, an armistice, in which one prepares, precisely, for the resumption of war. In this sense, “war is politics by violent means”.
As can be seen, humanity is like this, “war and peace”, understanding that “peace is war maintained by other means” – let us always keep in mind the Manichaeism of the “hot-cold” relationship for war and “friend”. -enemy” for politics.
Another view of Manichaeism reveals a kind of diplomacy in which states make their policies, in peace and war. If conventional politics is the one in which we associate, relate, autonomous individuals (and projects) to other autonomous individuals (and parties), diplomacy, to maintain this analogy, would be a “political relationship between sovereign States”. The difference, in this case, would be between autonomy and sovereignty.
It is enough for us to think, in this context, that, however representative some maybe – even the most significant Men of Virtù, “founders of States”, in Machiavelli’s call –, no “political animal” will have sovereignty. So much so that the right of secession, of subversion of the construction of any State, is rejected. What there can be is exile, but not desertion. Here the axis of violence is completed with a severe penalty foreseen for any other “war crime”: the penalty of anticipation of death.
In the very popular sense, another analogy would be comparable to Individuals (PF) and Legal Entities (PJ). This would be quite imprecise – after all, they are completely different administrative and institutional regimes. However, for common sense understanding, it would be a beginning; that is, individuals are not compared with institutions.
In any case, war does not submit to a supposedly humanizing desire, as if we could remove belligerence from our genetics; because if there was political genetics it would be this: “War is what you are” – and so am I. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (in his Leviathan) was very close to this line: man is always another man’s predator. However, contrary to what Hobbes expected, the State (Leviathan) not only did not put an end to civil war but also interspersed war and peace between deaths (war) and preparations for death (peace).
If the “right to make war” is guaranteed to States (“just war”), violence is an attribute of both the State and the individual. It is up to the State, internally, for example, to attribute who can or cannot kill: the police kill alleging “strict compliance with legal duty”, they kill “repelling violence” and “following orders”; the soldiers too – including Hitler’s Nazis. Individuals, on the other hand, bring self-defense. And what is this? It is the right to violently repel an alleged act of violent and undue aggression.
A third form of the “right to war” still presents itself; however, curiously, it associates arguments (justifications) of individuals and sovereign States. The so-called “state of necessity” admits to killing the other (person or people), to guarantee the means of survival for oneself or others (the people).
Finally, it is not difficult to perceive that all human relationships are predicted as an act or “right to fight”, by a set of means or others. That doesn’t matter, because, in the end, losers don’t survive long in the hands of predators.
We speak of civil war, but we can speak of “war of couples” – some even televised – or of commercial war, industrial war, “holy war” (Crusades, in the plural), “dirty wars” (when you attack with the excuse that it is going to defend itself or uses “dishonest weapons”, such as the production of internal revolts, insurgencies – planned, programmed rebellions).
A parenthesis here would say that just wars are waged against unjust wars. What is fair or unfair, of course, is decided by the winner of the war. It is also not strange that the “right to war” (of the victor) imposes compensation for the cost of war (on the loser). This fact is not surprising that the collection of compensation of this type ends up indicating the end of a war (World War I, for example) and is the starting point of the next one: Germany, humiliated, always prepared for World War II.
Well, if we talk about the political genetics of war – “the right to fight” – and if we are “wolves to ourselves” (Homo homini lupus: “man’s wolfman”), we can think of a giant pack in which the big wolves fight to decide who is the boss: the Alpha Wolf. The famous Global Village is just a giant pack. In the mafia, in another illustration, there is talk of the “capo dos capos ” (“capo di tutti capi “): the Godfather.
In this line of Political Lycanthropy, it is possible to see in the Russia-Ukraine War a reheating of the old Cold War. Russia defends its “right to war”, accusing the West (USA) of taking NATO (an international organization created to militarily combat the former Soviet Union) beyond the post-World War II non-aggression treaties – correct claim as to the advancement of the deadliest weapons too close to their borders.
As we said, there will always be a justification for the act of war, and the West follows its course based on the UN (the largest international body created, precisely, to prevent wars), following the biggest declaration of war in its history. Switzerland – which passed for “neutral” at the height of German Nazism, collecting deposits of the stolen loot, looted (incalculable fortunes ), by Hitler’s army – did not shy away from freezing the Russian money deposited in its financial system.
Anyone could ask how much money from corruption (evasion and tax evasion) and/or international trafficking – in people, drugs, or “blood diamonds” – is deposited and well-guarded in Switzerland without freezing its assets. How many effective actions did the Swiss banking/financial system take against the Nazis? None, as far as is known. Had it not been for “the resistance bankers”, many more would have been slaughtered by the German Nazis. This is another justification for the Russia-Ukraine War: denazification of separatist regions that do not want to be subjugated to NATO. It is famous the Azov squad, Ukrainian, with the Nazi-fascist swastika on their uniforms, attacking the civilian population, barbarizing, torturing, collectively raping, before the war.
As we said, from the beginning, the justifications run from side to side. So much so that unjust wars are usually announced as a pretext, precisely, for other just wars.
US international action (the real pole of the Russia-Ukraine War) is no less belligerent. In the name of democracy and human rights – ironically, based on the Declarations of Human Rights that it refuses to ratify – the US has already waged wars around the world. Ever since they invented themselves as a country, around their Federalists, the destiny of the USA has manifested itself as a spokesperson for the “right to war”.
Perhaps this country (USA) was created to wage war: from Manifest Destiny to Patriotic Act (post-9/11, 2001). The conquest and occupation of Texas, a territory that belonged to Mexico, is a clear sign.
The list of “justified wars” by the US is immense. The Alamo, refuge of the consciousness of barbaric capitalism – if there is such a thing as civilized capitalism – is always taken up again. If “Deux made them dominate the world”, as the fate manifested by the bullets says, this is nothing more than a “copy and paste”.
The Romans said the same thing to justify their growing Empire: to bring Roman civilization to the barbarians (enslaved, of course). The Pax Romana (the “right to war” – justified by jurisconsults: “legalizers”) has always found shelter in some flimsy excuse. The Japanese have always used Bushido (the “soul of Samurai”) for this feat: the warrior code has justified crimes across Asia – all the way to Pearl Harbour. In the course of the 2nd World War, the US improved in the Art of War and then founded and imposed its pax Americana.
As for the real pole of the Russia-Ukraine (USA) war, in addition to the internal wars they have always sponsored and fought, it can be said that the US “wars of conquest” are a reflection of the very vision of its windshield. Slavery, which was not resolved with the civil rights of the 1960s, and the violent deaths of critics of the bellicose system – Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and JFK: the latter assassinated for putting back the Vietnam war – are just a few examples. historical. Wars are ahead of the US, always in constant planning. Behind are the remains of life – seen in the rearview mirror across the country – of the symbolic and symptomatic heirs of Genghis Khan. In the example of the unification of Mongolia, the “right to fight” is the essence of another type of destiny that manifested itself in weapons: to kill, to live later – “sovereignly”. This lesson was possibly the best learned by the US.
Finally, we list below a few cases of institutional intervention, US military aggression in the name of a cynical (sadistic) “lasting peace” – the pax Americana:
The robbery of Texas, of Mexico;
Vietnam – where they learned the true Art of War, by Sun Tzu;
Entire Latin America: see Panama, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil from 1964 – or from 2016.
Almost secular embargoes on Cuba ;
Military occupation and destruction of the Island of Grenada;
Iran-Contras – promoting barter between weapons and drugs to fight “communism”;
Iraq – perhaps one of the worst war crimes committed since World War II;
Libya, Syria, Afghanistan – the creature created in this pax Americana combo , as we know, was the Islamic State;
Pakistan: the final hunt for bin Laden took place with the absolute violation of airspace, of his territorial sovereignty.
African continent – although “donated” to European neocolonialism, the film “Black Hawk in Peril” is a micro sketch.
Finally, we remind you that, necessarily, we will forget about many other violent, bloody attacks committed by the USA around the world.
So, can we not conclude by thinking that war is a fight to the death, to define who has the “right to fight”?
Bestialism may have changed positions, references, or justifications, even clothes – “culture is the second skin” –, but barbarism has only changed (or not) the lame excuses known for centuries or millennia.