Hate & Conflict – The Business of War

Hate and Conflict - The Vietnam War

By Karthiga Ratnam

There are people dying

If you care enough for the living

Make a better place for you and for me…

Hate, Conflict, War, Genocide. Have you ever stopped think why they exist? Who profits from it? There is such callousness to war. People casually say things like “war is men dying and women getting raped”. Women getting raped is dismissed as collateral damage. It’s not seen or acknowledged as a crime. And the men dying? Just another statistic. 

In the days of old, war was a means to an end. It was a way to show dominance or save tribes. History shows us the first “recorded” armed conflict dating back to 1479 BCE. It was called the Battle of Megiddo

Today after two world wars, multiple armed conflicts, and invasions in the guise of protecting human rights, conflict has become the weapon of capitalism. Here’s an alarming statistic:

Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them or just 8 percent of recorded history. 

As the world reels from the scenes in Kabul, where mothers are begging strangers to take their babies, surely we have to wonder. Why are there wars in this world? Have we not evolved beyond our tribal mentalities and developed more sophisticated methods of dealing with disagreements? Why is it so difficult for us to maintain peace? 

Climate emergency is not a distant threat. Its here. Our future generations’ way of life is being threatened. Soon we will run out of food, clean water, liveable land, and much more. And yet instead of putting our petty differences aside, we look to blame, sow hatred, create conflict and look to our own national interests. But the saddest part of all? Of the 7.6 billion people on earth, conflict, and war is being engineered for the benefit of the few. But it’s always the majority that pays the price. 

With the recent Afghan withdrawal, there were parallels being drawn with the Vietnam war and the cost and consequence of that. 

Here’s a first pass, cause, and effect map of the Vietnam War. Take a look at the number of civilian casualties. 

Source – http://www.wicked7.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/The-Vietnam-War-Hate-and-Conflict.pdf

If you Google “Why did the US really invade Vietnam” you will see one of the primary reasons being to stop the “spread of communism”. If the cost of Vietnam was is adjusted for inflation, it cost the US close to $1 trillion. But to understand war, you need to look under the hood. The machine that powers it. 

The war machine isn’t just a fictional Marvel character, it’s a real breathing entity that runs the world. That silently pulls the strings of political decisions. And we are all but slaves to its will. 

Here’s a look at defense contracts during the Vietnam war. 

Source – https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/06/namric-antiwar-research-vietnam-war

There is no denying it. War is an extremely profitable business. And if you are in the business of war, would you be motivated to stop it or perpetuate it? 

Let’s pause and think about this for a second. There are companies whose entire business model is based off on profiting off of war. The more wars there is the more money they make. Doesn’t that sound crazy to you? 

Do we honestly believe there can be peace in a world where the sole purpose of some companies is to operationalize wars? 

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan is being touted as a major failure for the US and humanity. But was it really a failure for everyone? 

The Intercept reports that “​​defense stocks outperformed the stock market overall by 58 percent during the Afghanistan War”. The top five defense contractors – Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics have seen massive returns. For them, it was a “banner day” in the office.

Source – https://theintercept.com/2021/08/16/afghanistan-war-defense-stocks/

Such companies profit regardless of the outcome of the war. Climate change, pandemics, food shortages, Arctic ice melting, none of that matters. The war machine juggernaut just keeps rolling on. 

In any business, we focus on outcomes. Defense contracts are a business in which the outcome is irrelevant. In fact, the more prolonged the conflict, the greater the profit. 

We can talk about pyramids of hate and how conflicts escalate or we can stop and take a hard look at this business model we have created. How can any society thrive in a world where a few profit off the deaths of the many? 

Christian Sakar and Philip Kotler have created a pyramid of love. And if we care about the human race, the only war we can prevent wars is if each of us subscribes to it. Can we come together and celebrate our differences instead of being threatened by them? This might be the question that defines our future. 

We started this post with the opening lines of the Heal the world chorus. Its only fitting then,

For you and for me, and the entire human race

There are people dying

If you care enough for the living

Make a better place for you and for me