By Idang Alibi
Along the line of my belief in the law as an instrument for societal engineering and re-engineering as demonstrated in a five-path series of ”amateur laws” I humbly proposed for enactment entitled Five Crazy Laws to get Nigeria Developed in Five Short Years which ran in the Daily Trust newspaper two years ago, I once again propose here a law for the UN to consider and make into law for domestication by other nations.
The intendment of this legislation is to put an end to all wars and conflicts or considerably reduce them to the barest minimum in this our violence-prone world. From my little corner of the earth where I usually sit to sometimes reflect on some of the goings-on in our world today, I have discovered why conflicts or wars erupt every day in all corners of the world, why they multiply at a frightening rate and why existing ones appear so intractable to solve.
My small discovery may not be earth shattering but I have received what I consider an interesting reason why communities and nations easily take to war and in this small revelation contains what may prove to be a very useful contribution to how to solve the problem of perennial conflict in our world today if the UN is humble enough to give my idea a try. And, what have I found? It is so simple.
Wars are rarely ever fought for the reasons conveniently given by the ruling elite of any community or nation for declaring them. When it comes to war, the saying that there are usually two reasons for doing anything on earth- the good reason given and the real reason- rings so true.
I have found out that in both ancient times and even now, wars are fought for any of the following reasons: control of some strategic minerals, fertile swathes of land, strategic straits of land; to win the affection of some fair woman or women; desire to win control and to dominate and enslave a peaceful and prosperous but weak people; opportunity to test new implements of war invented in the war factories of some powerful nations and, by no means the last, a desire to lord it over a people and expropriate their resources for the aggrandizement of the mighty and strong among the conquering force.
All those notions about honour, the desire to ward off some imaginary threat posed by some other peoples or a selfless desire to create a trade route for the benefit of world trade or such other notions of altruism, are nothing but smokescreens to mask the real reason(s). Wars are conceived, planned, instigated, financed and promoted by the old and privileged and fought by the young and the poor who have little or nothing to gain from the war they are practically compelled to fight.
When, for instance, a wife in the harem of one king runs off with the king or prince of another realm, the cuckold king will mobilise some impressionable young men in his domain, drum into them the imperative of patriotism and restoration of national pride and thereafter, unleash them to go and kill and maim equally impressionable young men in the province of the rival randy king or prince, pleading that the other king or prince has brought dishonour upon the entire kingdom.
How can the running away with another potentate of a woman who is obviously starved of attention by my king because he has so many women to give attention to, rub me personally of some honour? Truly considered, it is my king we should censure for his insatiableness which led him to put himself to shame by attempting to carry a load he cannot possibly carry.
Yet, in many ancient times, endless and ruinous wars were often fought because a fair damsel spurned one prince or king in favour of another. Check out the Carthaginian war and the part Helen of Troy played in it. Personal spite and the need for vengeance quite often become a cause for national war which brings untold suffering upon innocent people. One of the world’s leading financial educators and best-selling authors, Robert Kiyosaki, told us in the book he co-authored with Donald Trump Why We Want You To Be Rich that, ”
As a pilot in Vietnam in 1972, I realised we were not fighting to stop Communism. I realised we were fighting for oil and big oil corporations. Today, we are in the same war-different countries, same corporations”. Many of today’s wars are fought for oil and gas on behalf of big oil and gas companies in the name of some nebulous principles or ideologies.
America is not in Afghanistan or the Middle East to fight radical Islam or to help install democracy in barbarous feudal or dictatorial nations but for control of vast oil and gas fields. Some of these wars are often instigated by big oil and gas and arms corporations owned by big, powerful and very influential individuals who stand to make huge profits from America’s war-mongering efforts.
Even when small communities fight over a fish pond or rich farm lands, they often usually invoke the honour of the community but if the pond or land is retrieved, those who stand to benefit are the rich and powerful in that community; it is not usually the young men some of whom sacrificed their lives or their limbs who get the benefits. Some are given useless garlands and medals of honour which means practically nothing. Women are mobilised to sing practically meaningless songs of honour to venerate the gallantry of some foolhardy young men who risked their lives for the pleasure and profit of the governing elite of their community or nation.
War is simply man’s cynical manipulation of fellow man for the benefits of the influential in society. It is never about justice or the securing of peace or the retrieval of any lost or injured honour. The dominant class in society cynically manipulate the poorer or weaker class to achieve their purpose. Self or class interests of the rich and powerful are the single most important motive responsible for ALL wars whether big or small, whether for offensive or defensive reasons. Since this is the case, what I have in mind is that the best way to end or reduce wars is to have an instrument that will ensure that the discomfort and suffering of wars are evenly distributed among those involved in wars in any society.
If the responsibility of initiating wars does not end with mere initiating but also includes fighting in the war initiated to the bitterest end, many of those who usually start the idea of war will surely think twice before they initiate war. If the Dick Cheneys of America like to provoke war to have oil, let them wear the uniform of recruits and fight in those wars in harsh climates of the Middle East or Africa.
It is so unfair that some decision-makers sit in the comfort of their luxurious homes and send young men some of whom hardly understand the real issues at stake to their early graves in distant lands, making some mothers and fathers childless and women young widows. It is cruelty of the worst kind. The UN should seek to put an end to this type of cynical manipulation of the less privileged in society. How should the UN do it? Part two of this treatise will say how. Alibi writes from Abuja.