Not even Nostradamus was this good…..Philip Gordon and the End of War?

….If Philip H. Gordon had tonight’s lottery numbers, I would be looking over his shoulder as he filled in his ticket….and advising everyone I know to be doing exactly the same. It’s not that I would be certain he’s win, nor that I’m convinced that the chap has a lucky rabbit’s foot (obviously not too lucky for poor Mr Bunny; sorry Bugs!), but if you take the time to read his article, you’ll see why.

In his article he describes how he sees the unilateral ‘Global War on Terror’ as declared and envisaged by the more hawkish members of both sides of the House as being largely un-winnable. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no dove on this front; some wars are unavoidable, regrettable indeed, but generally unavoidable. You can fight (and get bloodied) or you can abstain and get bloodied anyway. The world is the kind of place that doesn’t pay a whole lot of attention to non-belligerent status. Terrorism is a concept that doesn’t recognise borders, that has no fear of treaties or accords, a concept that only has one aim; to terrorise, to instil fear. At least that was traditional terrorism. Modern, or New, Terrorism as practiced Al Qaeda and its affiliates, has a duology of central tenets. In addition to seeking to sow terror among its enemies (a neat reversal of Bush’s ‘You’re with us or against us’ approach really), New Terrorism also seeks mass casualties. Simply put, Foreign Internal Defence may just be coming back into fashion again.

But I digress, wonderfully I know, but still back on track.

Gordon’s article has it all really. Its brutal, its blunt, it addresses the caliphate in the Middle East, the futility of foreign wars, the lack of coherent strategies, the curbing of civil liberties and of course balancing the budgets. Seriously this guy is on fire. And what’s more impressive? It’s not that the article is good, lots of articles are good, its that he saw this all coming down the line in 2007, EIGHT YEARS AGO!

An end to the GWoT is coming, but as Gordon points out the Muslim backlash is also coming; we saw that clearly in the Sydney Siege, in the Charlie Hebdo and Dutch attacks, in the July 2006 bombings in London, in Canada at the War Memorial and Parliament and countless other places. The frontline on terror is now in our communities. The thing is, although the Western ideology is probably better (not fully sold myself on that one), the Middle East is a difficult place to sell it. One look at Europe and the US will tell you just how angry the average citizen is with their elected officials. Cockroaches have a higher approval rating than the US Congress; Obama is quite simply useless and effectively neutered by partisanship; Anglea Merkel is destroying any goodwill the German people have built up since the end of the World War, with ‘colourful’ (read distasteful) comparisons between her and Adolph Hitler continuing to gain ground. Turkey, one of the few US allies is hopelessly corrupt, being run by a man who was Prime Minister and is now President (one wonders will his terms in that office be extended…), in a fashion similar to Mr Hitler and also further afield to the Soviet Union, sorry I mean the Russian Federation, where the Prime Minister/President/Czar holds sway over everything….although apparently not over his armed forces who ‘volunteer’ in Ukraine quite a lot…

Even though the Muslim world, like China and other semi-repressive states, are full of journalists and thinkers, the West needs to see this. In South Africa, the Boers killed and maimed thousands of Blacks, but for the rest of the world it had little connection really. it took the sacrifices of men like Mandela for us to reconcile that Sharpeville could not be condoned or excused away, that African men and women of colour too had inalienable rights. In Islamic countries, their philosophers and leaders need to stand up to their peers and be counted. And instead of bombing (lets face it bombs are sexy and a powerful way to convince your country you’re doing something) countries with a 12th century political system, back into the 11th century, why not engage with moderates and try to make a difference? yes there will be knocks, there will be pitfalls and you will have setbacks, but surely it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness?

In short Gordon’s article is quite good. It does lack any worthwhile addressing of the imbalance in Europe though, as well as shortcomings in the armed forces (German’s military is decrepit, NATO needs a serious wake up call, the US/UK need to figure out the transition to majority volunteer led forces sooner rather than later, the EU is tearing itself apart and no-one in Germany will ‘roll the hard six’ and spend their way out of the recession!).But over all its a very good paper. And he’s spot on.

Wars end…people start them and people choose to end them.

About eamonntgardiner

Dr. Eamonn T. Gardiner, is a Consulting Historian. He has previously conducted research into links between wartime traumatic-neurosis and evidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) amongst veterans of the First World War serving as Auxiliary Policemen, during the Anglo-Irish War 1919-1921. He has written extensively on British central and colonial administrative responses to popular insurgencies. In 2009 he published 'Counterinsurgency and Conflict: Dublin Castle and the Anglo-Irish War (CSP, 2009).' Published papers include; 'The training of the Irish Volunteers, 1913-1916' (The Irish Sword, 2017); 'Scattered, Ambushed and Laid Out: War and Counterinsurgency in the greater Tuam area, 1919-1921' (JOTS, 2015). Research interests include De-Colonialisation/Post-Colonialism; Insurgency, Police/Military Histories; Institutional Histories; Modern Irish/World History; History of Conflict, Protectorates and Peace-Keeping; Hegemony; Old and New Terrorism.
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