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‘Oh, What a Lovely War'
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 17 - 09 - 2014

By and large Americans are a jolly lot! They are kind, generous, open-hearted and fun-loving. Yet every time we turn our heads, they are waging another war. This is rather baffling since the American culture is predominantly one of wealth, not of war. They pursue wealth “with a tenacity equalled by no other people on the planet”, which indicates a selfishness, diametrically opposed to the sacrifices, risks and selflessness of war. But facts are facts and Americans by far are the most warring nation on earth. It is not because they are threatened. They choose to inject themselves in matters that concern other countries, other peoples, thousands of miles away.
Americans enjoy the best this world has to offer. Affluent and self-sufficient, they can live independently, lavishly, without interference or infringement on any other nation. They have more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia. Why then do they make it their primary concern to meddle in other peoples' business, other nations' internal affairs, in conflicts that should be of little or no interest to them, in wars that deflate their economy and kill their citizens? There is nothing glorious about war, and being old hands at it, have they not figured it out?
You can argue that war is an all- pervasive phenomenon of the human race and you would be right. History as a whole is nothing more than an account of wars, and we are all guilty. Ninety to 95 per cent of all societies have engaged in at least occasional warfare.
Americans however fight constantly. They pounce on the feeblest pretext to justify their interference and intervention and before you know it they are at war. Is this what they do best?
They fought for their land and secured it and now they feel compelled to keep on fighting, policing world affairs.
Pretending to be a reluctant warrior, Obama has just declared another war, while still at war in Afghanistan and his Iraq war ended shamefully. His new war has been launched against ‘ISIS', (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), boots or no boots. This devilishly creepy terrorist group has been active in Syria for several years, spreading depravity and evil in its wake. It should be dealt with, but why now, why was it not stopped sooner? They have monstrously beheaded two American citizens, a very good reason no doubt. But what were the Americans doing out there in ‘no-man's land'? They were simple journalists performing their jobs, and must have been aware of the grave risks they were taking.
Americans are found in too many places where they do not belong! They are nosy, intrusive and in search of trouble, which they eventually find.
Still reeling from a series of disastrous wars in the Middle East, there they go again. Now they seek affiliates around the world to form a coalition giving legitimacy to their war games. Britain has to date refrained from joining their war effort, though they too suffered a similar loss? Are they war weary while Americans never are! Why should they be when war is such fun! Are not wars lovely?
“Oh What a Lovely War”, the 1963 epic musical satire is enjoying a smashing revival in London's West End, on the occasion of its bi-centennial and because it seems so appropriate half a century later. Developed by Joan Littlewood as a parody on WWI, it was adapted for the screen by the late gifted actor/ director Richard Attenborough who gathered a dazzling cast to deliver the bludgeoning criticism of war, so pertinent today.
From their colonial beginnings to this day America has fought 26 wars averaging a war every 11.5 years. First there were the wars between the Indians, the Narragansett, the Nipmuck, the Cherokee, the Creek tribes among others. They fought the French Colonies, the Austrian succession and then were ready for their revolution in 1776 to gain their independence from Britain. They faced the French in the Franco-American Naval War, 1798-1800, followed by the Barbary Coast Wars against Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli. There was the famous war of 1812 against Great Britain; then they turned on their neighbours to the north with the Texas Independence War and the Mexican- American War, which ended after they had coveted a big chunk of Mexican territory which included California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. The Mexicans settled for $20 million.
When Americans were done with the foreigners, they started fighting each other. The Civil War,(1861-1865), had the ‘Union' fight the 11 Southern states who owned slaves, the ‘Confederacy'.
No sooner had the dust settled and the people started to rebuild their ravaged land, when out of the blue, the Spanish- American War was waged in 1898. Now what was that all about? Americans took control of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam and Cuba. Could they have inherited colonial tendencies from their forefathers?
WWI came along (1914-1918), WWII followed 20 years later, neither of which threatened them. Neither did the Communist threat to Korea and Viet Nam. The Bay of Pigs gave the world a scare but was not the end. Grenada followed then Panama, Persian Gulf, Bosnia Herzegovina, and on to the Middle East.
So Iraq invaded Kuwait. Does that involve the US? Oil perhaps! Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq, ISIS, a devilish group, but will the US ever stop before it launches WWIII?
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

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