- Perpetual war
Perpetual war is a
warwith no clear ending conditions. It also describes a situation of ongoing tension that seems likely to escalate at any moment, similar to the Cold War.
In past history
Examples of wars that seemed perpetual during their course included the
Hundred Years' War(1337–1453), Eighty Years' War(1568–1648), the Thirty Years' War(1618–1648), the Crusades(a series of nine related episodes over a long period 1095–1291), and the Northern Crusades(beginning 1193 and ongoing through the 16th century).
In recent history
The Cold War, lasting almost 50 years, is an example of such a war, although largely fought by the major powers through a large number of small
proxy wars, where the major powers provided aid to various local factions engaged in so-called "wars of national liberation". When the major powers became directly involved, as the U.S. in the war in Vietnam, or the Soviet Unionin Afghanistan, the results were generally a disaster for the major power. Another example of protracted conflict were the Indochina Wars, wherein rebel Vietnamese forces fought from 1941 until 1979 against a variety of external foes (including Japan, France, the United States, Cambodia, and China), as well against other establishment Vietnamese factions.
The dispute over
Kashmirbetween India and Pakistan, and over various Himalayan regions between China and India, ongoing since 1947 in the former case and 1962 in the latter, have led to the formation of the line of controland the Line of Actual Controlrespectively. Along these theaters the armed forces of the involved countries stand in continuous preparedness on such battlegrounds as the Siachen glacier. Major flare-ups from time to time have resulted in the Indo-Pakistani Warsand the Sino-Indian War.
Arab-Israeli Conflicthas been a continuous issue, in fact going back long before the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948. Disputes between Jewsand their Arabneighbors in the area go back at least to the beginnings of Zionistsettlement and the growth of Arab Nationalism, in the early Twentieth century - deriving from the two sides realizing that they were staking contradictory claims to the same territory.
Since the end of
World War II, Japanand Russiaremain legally in a state of war; due to the Kuril Islands dispute, there was never a peace agreement ending their war - however, there was never any actual fighting since 1945, and the two countries are in practice at peace with each other.
In current events
Robert Fisk, a British journalist and critic of Western policies in the Middle East, conjectures [ [http://www.zmag.org/CrisesCurEvts/Iraq/fiskiraq.htm Locked in an Orwellian eternal war] , by Robert Fisk.] that recent Western conflicts against the Middle East after the end of the Cold War have been part of a new perpetual war. He suggests that U.S. President Bill Clintonlaunched attacks on Iraq, Sudan, and Afghanistanto distract the population from his domestic political problems, and points out that despite victorious claims after the first Gulf War that Saddam Hussein had been "defanged," he was again the target of Western attacks through 2001 (and of course beyond).
Critics have used the term "perpetual war" in reference to non-military "wars", such as the "
War on Drugs", " War on Poverty", " War on Cancer", Lou Dobbs's "War on the Middle Class", or the " War on Terrorism".
In socioeconomics and politics
Some analysts, such as
Noam Chomsky, posit that a state of perpetual war is an aid to (and is promoted by) the powerful members of dominant political and economic classes, helping maintain their positions of economic and political superiority.
Some have also suggested that entering a state of perpetual war becomes progressively easier in a modern democratic
republicsuch as the United Statesdue to the continuing development of interlocking relationships between those who benefit directly from war and the large and powerful companies that indirectly benefit and shape the presentation of the effects and consequences of war (i.e., the formation of a military-industrial complex).
There has been some speculative criticism from anti-war activists and Bush critics, for example, that the Bush administration's ties to
Halliburtoninfluenced the decision to go to war in Iraqand Afghanistan. These claims have been pointedly denied by the George W. Bush White House.
However, the concept of a
military-industrial complexwas first suggested by President Eisenhower and the idea that military action can be seen as a form of market-creation goes at least as far back as the publication of War Is a Racket. The economic make-up of the 5th century BCAthens-led Delian Leaguealso bears resemblance to the economic ramifications of "preparing" for perpetual war.
1949novel " Nineteen Eighty-Four" by George Orwellwas written from the viewpoint of a citizen of one of three fictional world-dominating superstates. These nations are in a state of perpetual war with each other. The state of war is used by each of the states to justify the control of their populations using Stalinistor other methods. By artificially creating fear and hate of an enemy, the actual existence of which is never made completely certain, the governments provided an excuse for their failures and, in the case of Oceania, enforced obedience to Big Brother. Moreover, eternal war formed the bedrock of the economy, as people could be kept busy manufacturing goods that would not improve their living standards, but would instead be destroyed on the battlefields. Thus perpetual war not only kept the population busy, it also encouraged a " siege mentality" in which hatred of the enemy and love for the government's protection were social norms.
In other fictional universes
In the science-fiction/fantasy universe of
Warhammer 40,000, the Imperium of Manhas been at war for over 10,000 years against numerous alien races and human traitor factions. The concept of perpetual war is integral to the franchise. The Dark Heresy roleplaying game explains that this sets up a siege mentality in the human race that helps bind them together under Imperial rule; a similar situation to that of the superpowers of "1984".
In "Passport to Sirius"
Robert Silverbergwrote of a future Earth with endless, but totally fictitious distant space wars. Their purpose was to regulate consumer spending. The idea was that people would buy more (thus increasing production) when the news was bad, and less (thus controlling inflation) when the news was good.
In the science-fiction/ sentai manga
Cyborg 009, the main antagonist is the Black Ghost Organization, a secretive collection of world leaders and arms dealers whose goal is to create a perpetual World Warin order to continuously sell their prototype weapons of mass destruction, without fear of there ever being the "threat" of world peace.
In BBC TV's "
Doctor Who" - Genesis of the Daleks- The Kaledsand the Thalsare in a state of perpetual war for 1000 years. All types of weapons were in use - Chemical, Biological and Nuclear, causing some inhabitants to become mutants (Mutos). The Daleks came about as a result of the Kaled Scientist Davrosdiscovering what the eventual fate of the Kaled race was to be and creating a survival suit for their eventual form, eventually corrupting this project by creating a race of creatures that were answerable to no one, eventually not even Davros.
Doctor Who", the Sontaran Empire and Rutan Hosthave waged an interstellar war against each other for millennia.
The Forever War" by Joe Haldemandepicts an interstellar war between humans and aliens, who do not succeed to communicate and end the fighting until over a millennia has gone by in constant warfare. In the meantime, the human race comes under control of an autocratic military buereaucracy, and is eventually changed into a race of clones.
In the 2000 AD comic strip
Rogue Trooper, the Southers are committed to a perpetual war against the Norts on the planet of Nu-Earth. The war included biological and chemical weapons and so polluted the planet that the Southers created the Genetic Infantrywho could fight on the planet without the need for protective suits.
List of wars on concepts
Permanent Arms Economy
Report from Iron Mountain
The Long War
War Is a Racket
*"Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace", by
Gore Vidal. Nation Books, 2002. ISBN 1-56025-405-X
* [http://www.douglasvalentine.com/article_security.html Homeland Security: When The Phoenix Comes Home To Roost] , by Douglas Valentine.
* [http://www.interventionmag.com/cms/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1128 The Eternal War Parade] , from Intervention Magazine.
* [http://fair-use.org/randolph-bourne/the-state/ "The State"] , by
Randolph Bourne– origin of the phrase, "war is the health of the state".
* [http://www.spunk.org/texts/writers/black/sp001675.html The War on Drugs as the Health of the State] , by
Nineteen Eighty-Four" ( [http://www.george-orwell.org/1984/ full text] ), by George Orwell.
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