An Overview Of The Collapse 4
“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”
Despite brushfire conflicts on almost every continent, the first decade and a half of the Twenty-First Century were fairly peaceful, historically speaking. Even as Americans focused on their own wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and their involvement in Libya, fewer people worldwide were dying as a result of armed conflict than during any comparative period in two hundred years. Deaths due to war were only a half the rate in the nineties, and a third that of the Cold War years, mostly because the kind of guerilla wars being fought were nasty, but weren‘t between equally-matched and massive mechanized armies. If the world felt more violent, it was because there was more information about wars — not more wars themselves. Once-remote battles and war crimes now made it onto TV and computer screens, and in more or less real time.
The decline in wartime deaths, and a general decline in the number of conflicts being fought, gave rise to the thought among some observers that perhaps world peace wasn’t all that far away after all. Even the decline in influence of the world’s policeman, America, wasn’t expected to change trends greatly, with one expert writing in 2011: “The best precedent for today’s emerging world order may be the 19th-century Concert of Europe, a collaboration of great powers that largely maintained the peace for a century until its breakdown and the bloodbath of World War I.”
Unfortunately, that great power collaboration never had a chance to coalesce. With the economic crash in 2016, the West was bankrupt. The U.S., already less co-operative in foreign policy than it had been since before World War Two, could either fund its military might or all its other federal obligations – not both. With massive domestic unrest fuelled by the economic crisis and turmoil abroad fed by peak cheap oil and the beginnings of climate catastrophe, it chose to fund the legitimacy of military power at home and abroad. The UN was cut off and collapsed, as did other international bodies and several major humanitarian charities. There was no money for the kind of Peace Corps operations that won hearts and minds and could have headed off some of the worst, nor was there federal money for domestic security and law enforcement, or for the over-burdened welfare system.
At home troops were increasingly seen on the streets doing riot suppression and disaster management, abroad the military concentrated on rapid strike and power-projection capabilities. Other nations followed suit, though none could match the U.S., which by now was spending well over half of the world’s total defense budget. Suddenly, the military was government’s only tool in the toolbox, and when all you have is a hammer…
The catalyst was, as ever, the Middle East – to be specific, Iran. The Islamic Republic announced in 2014 that it had achieved a “virtual deterrent” – the same capability as Japan or Belgium to construct a nuclear weapon rapidly in response to an attack. The West and Israel had been muttering about attacking that nuclear program for over a decade, with never any action taken because Iran always carefully stayed below the threshold of causing outright public alarm. Now, however, any Western attack would be met by a nuclear response. Like Pakistan and North Korea, Iran had moved into new geopolitical territory and the new Grand Ayatollah, an Iraqi brought up in Iran who had swiftly moved to unify Shiite Islam, didn’t waste time in taking advantage of the economic crash. He used Iraq’s hoard of oil cash to fund Unification in full with Iraq in 2017, despite a Sunni insurgency, and cut the Kurdish North loose as an independent nation and a divisive thorn in Sunni sides. Then he turned to Western Afghanistan, to Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Yemen and other nations with large Shia populations, fomenting rebellions and civil war. The objective was no less than a new Safavid Empire.
While Israel sat worried on the sidelines and the West looked on from afar, the Sunni nations of the region – led by Saudi Arabia – pushed back hard. They funded insurgencies and backed incumbent rulers whenever necessary, depleting their own hoards of oil cash. Brushfire proxy wars sprang up across the region, meeting global warming and failing oil incomes head on in a recipe for geopolitical disaster. The wars escalated until, on 11th August 2020, Saudi Arabia revealed it too had nuclear capacity – by striking Tehran, Basra and Tabriz with nuke-tipped cruise missiles believed to have been bought from Pakistan. The U.S. and Europe were dragged in, all unwillingly, and the Iranian counterstrike a month later aimed at Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Muscat was intercepted by Western missile defenses. A coalition of European nations put troops into the region as peacekeepers, mostly to secure remaining oil reserves and the Suez Canal, but too late to stop Israel being largely overcome by a tide of refugees who turned that small nation into a terrorist nightmare.
To the East however, Iran’s shakeup of Shia/Sunni rivalries had even more horrific consequences. As the East rebelled against the still-shaky and notoriously corrupt Kabul government, it appealed to Pakistan for help and troops were dispatched. There was no way India was ever going to be happy about that, and several rounds of increasing rhetoric and “incidents” culminated in relations between Pakistan and India breaking down entirely by 2020. In late April of the following year, Indian intelligence captured agents from Pakistan who were reportedly planning a repeat of the 2001 attack on India’s parliament and on May 1st India launched a massive pre-emptive conventional strike across the border into Pakistani territory.
India was by now a superpower with the technology Pakistan lacked and advances were rapid. The Indian military had been re-designed across the last decade through technology-transfer deals with Russia and Europe and that paid off as pinpoint air strikes swept away much of Pakistan’s defenses – including most of its substantial nuclear force. In desperation, Pakistan used its dwindling nuclear arsenal. India lost Bangalore but Pakistan lost Faisalabad, Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi as well as most of it’s military in the field in retaliatory strikes, as the superiority of India’s homegrown anti-missile defenses became obvious. Pakistan’s long-term military ally China made a few light probes on India’s flank and rapidly transitioned to watchful non-involvement. In all, over 12 million died.
It was as if events on the sub-continent brought the world to a boil. Over the next three decades the planet saw War retake it’s place alongside Pestilence and Famine, which were riding high on climate change, as a major cause of fatalities. The Middle East has continued to be a bloodbath of Sunni-Shia feuding, with almost as much resentment and violence directed at European forces and corporate mercs in North Africa and the Suez area. Barring South Africa and Kenya, Africa is the Dark Continent again as plagues and famine have wiped out whole societies and created wars between tribes, between religions and between nations all across the continent. In the gaps created by failed states, terrorism and piracy thrive – as do corporate corruption and malfeasance. In Europe and North America, the Haves must keep the Have-Nots in place by near totalitarianism, creating police states to stop social unrest destroying the very fabric of civilization. The Militia Wars of the late 30s in the U.S. are the textbook example. The West has even seen at least one nasty and quick war which was only between corporate combatants – the infamous conflict between Armatech and LMB corporations which only ended when the U.S. government used it’s own military might on both.
Asia isn’t in any better shape. Even the two regional powers, India and China, are a mixture of grinding civil insurrection in rural areas and police state responses in urban ones. In Latin and South America, climate change had created both winners and losers. Brazil is the regional power now, while Argentina and Mexico are failed states. In fact, Mexico has become Texas’ own Iraq – only this time just across the border – following the Free State’s deployment of troops there in 2024 as “advisors” to the corrupt Mexican government. Elsewhere, drug cartels, revolutions and corporations willing to pay enough in bribes carve their own little kingdoms out of what remains of the previous national structures.
All across the globe, arms manufacturers and security contractors are reaping tidy profits.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.