The Era of Conventional Wars is Over


Charles Mercieca, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

One may find it hard to believe that the era of conventional wars is now over. World War II, 1939-45, will be recorded as the last conventional war witnessed in our 21st century community. Over the past 65 years this has been evidenced with tangible clarity. The only tragedy lies here. The so called super powers cannot see it and cannot accept it. They keep on wasting money and energy on something that is now a fiction of their imagination.

Traditional Wars’ Mind-Set

This explains why such powers, headed by the United States, continue to spend billions of dollars preparing for future conventional wars, which are haunting them mysteriously and needlessly their fantasy. A conventional war may be described as a nation or a group of nations fighting against another nation or another group of nations. Such was the case in World War II. First we had the British fighting the Germans and then later other nations joined like Japan taking the side of Germany and the USA taking the side of Great Britain.

Since actions speak louder than words, let us analyze carefully belligerent actions taken by the USA in particular in recent times. We all recall the attack on the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The United States decided to fight back in a traditional conventional way. It searched for a nation to attack and invade as a result. Since it could not really find any, it created one, Iraq, to fight back overwhelmingly like this Middle East nation planned and executed the attack on New York.

To justify to the world American aggression against Iraq, they created a lot of stories all of which proved to be without any foundation, such as Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The war went on for eight years and the terror on a global scale went on the increase. The reason for this was simple. The enemy has shifted drastically from being an organized nation, like Germany and Japan in World War II, to being merely a handful of individuals that in practice do not represent really any government at all.

If such is the case, then the idea of having nations fighting other nations have now become a thing of the past. In view of this, prospective nations that are being attacked should change drastically their strategy of war. Instead of seeking for a nation or a group of nations to attack, under the pretext of self-defense, they need to discover the real source of this emerging lethal problem. This would require an entirely different strategy and new means of operation, which cannot imitate any plan and action that was used in past conventional wars. It all boils down to the development of a new sense of perception in strategic plans.

Wrong Focus in Perspective

If conventional wars were to remain in our times, same as they were in the past, then we may easily understand why the United States continues to boast to be the strongest military nation on earth. We may comprehend why the USA continues to expand its foreign military bases across every continent and why this nation continues to have more and more military bases in addition to the 746 it already has virtually everywhere. However, since the enemy ceased to be a nation or a group of nations, all this American military preparation for future conventional wars became totally lost and fully meaningless.

Moreover, since the United States continues to believe that the future of wars will continue to be a repetition of the past, which is absolutely no longer the case, it is being distracted needlessly and prevented from concentrating on the real source of danger that is facing this American nation. We are faced here with a new danger that comes from individuals who, most of the time, do not carry any national identity. Because of its traditional war mentality, the USA continues to identify anything negative and destructive with a specified nation or group.

Let us illustrate this by example. In Afghanistan the USA claims to be fighting the Taliban. Anyone there that explodes bombs that kill Americans is attributed to be the Taliban, even if such an individual were to detest the Taliban by all means. This is generally done because the USA continues to refuse to search for the real source of the problems in places where especially animosity against Americans is very conspicuous. A few years ago, the United Nations used some humanitarian organizations to explore what motivates violence.

Such humanitarian organizations visited children between the ages of 9 and 11 in both Iraq and Gaza. They raised quite a few questions one of which was: “What would you like to do when you grow up?” To the surprise of the interrogators the vast majority of the children gave virtually the same identical answer: Killing Americans! This was a big surprise. So the next question was naturally: “Why do you want to do this?”

With great simplicity they gave such answers: “Because Americans killed my father and now I have no father… they killed my mother and now I have no mother…. They killed my brother and sister and maimed several of my friends…. They destroyed our homes and now we are homeless.” All of this was due to the fact that the USA decided to wage a conventional war against Iraq, which was viewed by many respectable individuals of the caliber of Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, Oscar Arias, Dalai Lama in addition to many others as immoral and illegal.

Different War Strategies

Needless to say, it would be foolish for anyone to imagine that such little children would be planning to form a military unit later on to fight the USA with a conventional war. As we see, even from recent acts of terror in the Middle East and Africa, anything that represents the USA, like embassies and even plain American civilians become a target for lethal attacks. And this is the kind of war the United States will continue to experience for many more decades. Hence, the best protection of the US should not be sought in more and more military bases, drones, and devastating weapons.

The best defense of the American nation should be sought in finding effective ways to reduce drastically animosity against Americans in the Middle East in particular and several global areas. Among other things, the USA should replace its culture of war mentality with a mind-set of peace. To this end, the USA should start offering the nations of the world not weapons and military equipments but rather medical items, improved school facilities, and housing opportunities as to start making the life of people better and safer.

Since the notion of conventional wars is over, it is incomprehensible for the USA to continue to arm itself with sophisticated weapons while pursuing, on a global sphere, its traditional belligerent policies to get what it wants through the installation of fear. That would have been good if the era of conventional wars is still real and vibrant. It would no longer serve a purpose when it comes to bring a small group of individuals, commonly referred to as terrorists, under control, since that would require a totally different approach.

If the United States would not want to collapse sooner than later as all the previous world powers, it needs to start putting emphasis on the education of the human mind. As the preamble of UNESCO states, since wars begin in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. If merely 50 percent of its military is replaced by teachers, the USA in the world at large would become a safer and better place of habitation.

In the pursuit of such a noble and realistic goal, the United States must keep in mind the real problems it faces from within. Although the US always tried to justify its continuous preparation for conventional wars for the so called “national defense,” we all know that behind the curtains the big corporations headed by the military industrial complex were always putting their big financial interests above anything else. These industries are aware of the fact that without future waging of wars, they will be out of business before they even know it. Hence, their most effective weapon was to instill constant fear in people.

Achievement of World Peace

Since the United States today is viewed as the only superpower when it comes to conventional wars, this nation has the unique opportunity to take the initiative to develop an international program of disarmament and arms control. This would win the admiration and respect of all people in every nation across every continent. In due time, the US government needs to review its Constitution and to have it updated as needed in order to make it more meaningful and conducive to the dire needs of people. They need to see what the writers of the US Constitution would have written today under the present circumstances.

When the US Constitution was written, this document was viewed as perfect, as excellent. However, as times began to change and the needs of people evolved in various directions, the very mention of even minor constitutional changes was viewed as dangerous, as a blasphemy. This explains why in the USA many problems that exist are likely bound to remain. This is certainly unfortunate for very obvious reasons. In fact, many crimes we face nowadays that could be traced to constitutional abuses seem to have gone out of control.

When individuals commit crimes against the American nation, the US government tries to identify these few individuals with some government so that it could justify the official waging of a war. Of course, if such a government is viewed as friendly, the thought of waging a conventional war against it would soon evaporate. In the 911 attack on New York, nine of the nineteen men involved were from Saudi Arabia, but the very thought of attacking Saudi Arabia was totally non-existent.

On the other hand, not one single man was from Iraq. Yet, because Iraq was generally viewed as an enemy, the USA attacked it and invaded it even though this was viewed by the world at large as immoral and illegal. For the USA to remain a strong nation it needs to learn with conviction that the time of conventional wars is over. From now on, a nation that is attacked needs to search for the real cause and then after adequate steps may be taken to avoid similar repetitions later.


Charles Mercieca, Ph.D. – President, International Association of Educators for World Peace, Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education, Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament.
-Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University.
-Hon President & Professor, SBS Swiss Business School, Zurich.
-Member, TRANSCEND-A Network for Peace, Development and Environment.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 8 Oct 2012.

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