my sophomore year in high school, i had a former hippie for a world history teacher. he taught us that war always has economic origins. he used wwii to support his claim, pointing out how the us involvement in the decade long conflict brought the country out of the great depression with flying colors, allowing it to emerge as an economic superpower. according to mr. shuff, the us’ interests did not lie in protecting jews from hitler and his concentration camps, in fact, this country was aware of concentration camps long before they were invaded, but instead, providing a necessary boost to the economy and realigning the international hegemonic order.
this economic interest for war may manifest itself in different ways. in socialist revolutions, such as in china and cuba, the economic impetus was an unequal distribution of resources. in fact, prior to the cuban revolution, 10% of the population owned 90% of the land. some may argue that the origins were about equality and justice, but the government’s refusal to meet a large segment of the population’s material needs created the opportunity for this inequality to politicize the masses, thus the origins were indeed economic. conversely, in imperialist wars, such as the us wars in iraq and afghanistan, the economic impetus is a battle to control resources and protect corporate interests/create corporate opportunities.
currently, the west’s economic interests for military aggression are especially clear in the
us nato-led war in libya. while libya produces a small amount of oil compared to saudia arabia, the world’s leading producer, controlling the oil market is just one benefit of toppling gadhafi’s leadership. with a country decimated by war, contracts to rebuild libya are in high demand.
as western leaders, led by french president nicolas sarkozy and british prime minister david cameron, prepare for the “friends of libya conference,” al jazeera reports the “event’s three hour agenda will focus on political and economic reconstruction.” libya’s post-war reconstruction will provide opportunities for multi-national corporations to pimp the fledgling economy as companies are “jostling for very lucrative contracts for the rebuilding of libya and also its enormous energy sector.” libya’s national transition council (ntc) has promised the countries who demonstrated the most “support,” namely, the us, britain, and france, will receive significant rewards.
it’s the possibility of these rewards and additional political and military interests that incentivized the western involvement in libya. as i’ve said before, the idea that the root of western-led military aggression is to protect civilians and repair a humanitarian crisis is a bunch of bs packaged into media sound bytes and western propaganda. as proof, the syrian president, bashar al-assad, is still killing syrians for protesting his regime, and the us has barely rolled its eyes. meanwhile, libya is on it’s way to being led by neo-colonial leadership and pimped by foreign corporations. mr. shuff was right. war is economic.