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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Simple words, serious consequences... Chapter 1

War – a mere three letter combination that has plagued mankind since the inception of time. As events, wars are the most well-remembered and most celebrated ones. Looking into prehistoric times all we see are great battles, war heroes and unparalleled wars. 

What Greek mythology does, is that it talks of wars and battles. In the said mythology gods were at war with each other and mortals were at war amongst themselves and with gods and demigods etc. Mahabharata is a war epic, where Ram and his company fought the “evil” forces to uphold goodness, but whatever maybe the reason after all it’s all about war.

Our history is nothing more than a compilation of minutes of wars. Alexander (Philipovich) Macedonian became Alexander the Great, because of his victories in the battlefield and his war related strategies. Ganghiz Khan did nothing remarkable in his life, but conquered lands and gathered the fruits of war. Julius Caesar stands out amongst Roman rulers because of his conquests. Selahedînê Eyûbî made it in bold letters into Muslim history all due to his war successes. Napoleon Bonaparte left an everlasting impression on world history and once again because of wars, invasions and conquests. Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler need no introduction and will always be remembered and all due to the same old time companion of humanity called “War”.

George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower are the most celebrated US Presidents, because all of them were war time presidents. Although Joseph Stalin was a dictator, but millions of people, who lived under Stalinist oppression still like him and remember him with feelings of gratitude and do you wonder why? Yes, because Joseph Stalin as the leader of the Soviet Union fought a great war. Saddam Hussein will be known till the end of times thanks to Iran-Iraq and Kuwait-Iraq wars and then of course due to Desert storm and Desert Shield and other war time code names. 
Wars did not only play role in the lives of the great Generals. War had always been an employer. In ancient times (and in modern as well) the Hindu cast system gave the best social status to warriors (Kshatriyas) immediately after the priests (Brahmans). Although farmers (Vaishyas) performed a more needed job providing food, but the rulers (priests) were never afraid of food suppliers as they were of the soldiers. Why? Well it was the soldiers, who had power and who won wars. 
In Greek mythology Ares (god of war) is one of the twelve Olympians and the one who is despised but feared. But when we talk about Ares, we should not forget about Athena, who also occupies a place amongst gods and runs the strategic side of war. The point of the matter is that there is no polytheistic or monotheistic mythology (religion), which does not have a god or lesser god of war, fear, terror and misery.
The twentieth century presents a collage of wars. As soon as the century started it tipped-off wars: the Japanese-Russian war, the first world war, the second world war, the invasion of Palestine, the Korean war, The Vietnam war, The Arab-Israel war, Turkish-Cypriot war, the Egypt-Israel war, the Afghan-Soviet war, Iran-Iraq war, Kuwait-Iraq war, the Chechen war, the Balkan wars (Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo mainly) etc. It will take a whole lot of paper to list all the wars credited to the twentieth century. The fact of the matter is that in that century mankind fought more wars than the number of decades in the century. 
And as soon as the 21st century dawned, we again received a gift of war. This time it started even earlier in the day then in the 20th century (Japanese-Russian war started in 1906, whereas the latest Afghan war started in 2001). In less than one and a half decades of the 21st century mankind has seen three all-out wars and a large number of covert wars (the ones normally coded like the “Arab spring”). So the 21st century despite all the technological development is still not prone to war and warriors.
Understanding the overwhelming role of wars in our history and in the present age, we naturally think of the reasons behind wars. We humans are intelligent beings and we love to dig deep into things, so how can we leave alone one of the most significant parts of human history, unravelled. 
In Homer’s epic if we try to find the reason of war, we see a number of candidates. Agamemnon pushed and supported his brother Menelaus into war apparently because of Elena (Helen). Agamemnon wanted to help his brother restore his integrity by taking back his wife from the honourless prince Paris of Troy.
On the other hand King Priam of Troy upheld his son’s actions and decided not to give-in to Greek demands. Hector fought the war to uphold the glory of invincible Troy. Agamemnon in fact went to war to expand his rule over Troy. Achilles went to war as part of the Achaean forces of attack on Troy, but then after the death of his companion Patroclus at the hands of Hector (the prince of Troy) the war became personal and the greatest event in that war became the slaying of Hector by Achilles in front of the gates of Troy. 
Apart from all of the abovementioned, nevertheless Troy also presented a great collection of wealth, knowledge and culture. So was the war about Helen, or was it about Paris’s ego, or was it about Hector’s unparalleled loyalty to his father and observance of code of honour, or was it about Agamemnon’s need of more land and more subjects, or was it about Menelaus’s urge to restore his integrity, or was it about Greek superiority, or was it about Achilles’s appetite for war or was it all just for the great amount of gold and silver and other, valuable at that time, items of wealth or resources, enshrined behind the tall walls of Troy?
When the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors invaded and subjugated Americas in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries and raged war against the natives they apparently conquered on behalf of the Castilian crown and brought Spanish (Portuguese) rule and freedoms to the local populace of “barbarians”. They brought the message of Christianity and the one true God to the natives of Americas and particularly South (Latin) America. Their utmost objective was to open new trade routes with new territories and to establish civilized rule. In course of dispensing “freedoms” and “civilization” the conquistadors dispensed a lot of diseases and infections to the aborigines. 
It often happened that the conquistadors fought fierce battles among themselves to claim a part of the booty. This booty did not comprise of the spices or silks or even slaves, but it comprised mainly of gold and silver. The amounts of gold and silver siphoned into Spain by the conquistadors amounted to the one fifth of the whole Spanish budget at that time. Gold and silver just shadowed every other thing of value that was gathered from the Americas.
So were the conquistadors fighting to spread the God’s word or were they spreading civilization or were they action hungry warmongers, who introduced native Americans with gun powder through the barrel or were the conquests meant to enrich Spain and Portugal with the most valuable resource of the times: gold and silver (gold and silver had no value among the native Americans, because it was in ample supply, whereas in Europe gold and silver gathering caused number of wars and mutinies)? Probably Christianity, Imperial expanse and civilization were just cover-ups for acquiring resources.
Alexander’s wild run east was to plunder the resources of Babylon and Persepolis. The British colonized and conquered territories and fought wars against the freedom movements within the colonized states to keep hold of the resources, which those countries offered. The French-British war was an attempt to gain total control of the African resources. When Abraham Lincoln decided to abolish slavery, the slave owners of the South revolted and entered a civil war, just to prevent the loss of resources in the shape of slaves, who grew cotton and sugar cane and other staples to feed the deep pockets of those Southern masters.
The crusades apparently occurred due to the ideological conflict between the Muslims of Arabia and Christians of Rome, but in fact the wars were fought by the Muslims to gain control of resourceful lands and by the Romans to restrict the reach of Muslims to the lands and their resources. 
The Muslim conquests of North and East Africa, Central Asia, Southern Europe and a lot of other territories, also did not have anything to do with spreading the word of God. It was an expansion of empire, because Muslims being traders mainly, understood back then that the larger the empire the larger would be the internal market and greater would be the gains. They also understood that the resources, in the shape of staples and water and fabrics and precious stones etc, were good sources of trade and the more they had these available from within the empire the better they could trade with states out of the empire. So it was all about economics and strategy and had nothing to do with the word of God. The conversion of conquered peoples meant long lasting control with lesser effort. After all we need a point of convergence and faith is probably the best convergent. The message was a tool and a very handy tool!
The long history of wars among different empires in Europe, which is populated by the people of the (generally) same racial background and who share common culture and common heritage, clearly indicate towards the objective of wars and it is none other than control of resources. For example if we study the Soviet-Finnish war (during world war two “winter war”), we might get confused, because a huge, gigantically huge Soviet Union tried to snatch away land from comparatively much smaller Finland. Why did Soviet Union need more land? More so the land that they were trying to capture was not all that fertile and did not promise lots of extra food supplies. 
Well the fact of the matter is that Stalin’s Soviet Union was looking for no barley or wheat, they were looking for nickel and other natural resources and they stepped into another war inside the greater war just to take control of resource rich territories. So we can see that it’s all about resources and not about Russians hating Finns or vice versa.
Yes the fought-over resources have changed over the time. There were times when wars were fought to take control of land and the people inhibiting that land, because the most valuable and sought-after resource was food and the more land you had the more resource you controlled. Then the list of resources kept changing and people fought wars for cotton, linen, olive oil, spices, silver, gold, copper and the list goes on and on and ends today with oil and gas.
Pin pointing resource list to oil and gas is just a generalization of all the natural resources still in-demand, but the said resources (oil and gas) have caused more wars in the twentieth and twenty first centuries than any other type. There have been incidents of covert and overt wars for uranium rich lands and for lands holding other riches, but O&G have mesmerised the resource collectors and consumers so much that they go to war over O&G without giving it a second thought. And this is what we will explore in the following pages.
To be continued, shortly...

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