Articles

War Making and State Making as Organized Crime

Charles Tilly -

Tudors - War MakersIf protection rackets represent organised crime at its smoothest, then war risking and state making – quintessential protection rackets with the advantage of legitimacy – qualify as our largest examples of organised crime. Without branding all generals and statesmen as murderers or thieves, I want to urge the value of that analogy. At least for the European experience of the past few centuries, a portrait of war makers and state makers as coercive and self-seeking entrepreneurs bears a far greater resemblance to the facts than do its chief alternatives: the idea of a social contract, the idea of an open market in which operators of armies and states offer services to willing consumers, the idea of a society whose shared norms and expectations call forth a certain kind of government.

The reflections that follow merely illustrate the analogy of war making and state making with organized crime from a few hundred years of European experience and offer tentative arguments concerning principles of change and variation underlying the experience. My reflections grow from contemporary concerns: worries about the increasing destructiveness of war, the expanding role of great powers as suppliers of arms and military organization to poor countries, and the growing importance of military control in those same countries. They spring from the hope that the European experience, properly understood, will help us to grasp what is happening today, perhaps even to do something about it.

Endless War: How Shooting Games Perpetuate War as the New Normal

Patricia Hernandez -

Endless WarAs of this year, the war on Afghanistan has been going on for over a decade--making it the longest standing war that the United States has been involved with. The average person living in the United States wouldn’t really know it, doesn’t really care, or can’t do anything about it.

The indifferent or helpless response makes sense. The “war on terror” makes it clear that the purpose of modern war is control--not conflict resolution. Peace isn’t on the drone’s radar. More war is. For in the “war on terror,” enemies could be anyone, anything; it has no particular enemy.

War becomes borderless. War cannot be ‘won’ in the traditional sense, it is ongoing, permanent. Security, and not defense, become the hallmark of ‘the war on terror,’ and this security redefines and violates civil rights in the name of the preservation of democracy. You’d think that the erosion of civil rights would create action, but this is where media such as games come into play.

The Pentagon is Like the Vatican

John Stanton -

Why the Civilian Leadership Fears the Military

Democia“Only 17 percent of the all-volunteer force serves for more than 20 years, and they are endowed with a lifetime benefit. The current US military retirement system does not compensate for those in high risk situations or extenuating circumstances (e.g., combat duty, hardship tour, and separation from family).. The current military retirement system is unfair.  For example, 83 percent of those serving in the US military will receive no retirement benefit.  US military personnel serving 5, 10, or 15 years will depart from service with no benefit or pension.  This cohort includes the majority of troops who have engaged and will engage in combat.  Retiree healthcare (TRICARE) is significantly more generous than civilian programs. For those serving more than 20 years, the retirement contribution is 10 times greater than the private sector: average private sector pension contributions range from 4-12% per year; military retirement benefit equates to 75% of annual pay per year for those who retire; and immediate payout after 20 years has no comparison in the private sector. In light of the budget challenges DOD is currently facing, the military retirement system appears increasingly unaffordable.” Defense Business Board

How times have changed since General George C. Marshall (1880-1959) walked the Earth. Chances are he would be appalled by the current-day US military leadership that has allowed (and taken advantage of) a national security/militaristic thinking to penetrate deep into the American political and social arenas. Marshall, no doubt, would be taken aback by the revolving door between the Pentagon and the private sector, and the hyper-privatization of the US national security machinery.

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