The art of war and the art of ‘ex-war’ (part I)

By Michela Terrazino and Cage Innoye

Years ago the legendary Sun Tzu wrote “The Art of War”, a famous and popular handbook for war. He lived from 544 to 496 BCE, his work was written in the “warring states” period of China. But the brilliant book used by many the world over is becoming outdated. The principle reason being we do not live in the age of war anymore. We have passed into a new epoch where war is not necessary, productive or desirable.

You may object and say that still war is all around us and thus self defense is an imperative. This is true, but hear the full argument:

The very long age of war is based upon a very old set of conditions and rules representing a completely different social situation. The “warring states period” for all of mankind has actually lasted over 3000 years. Recently, we passed out this old period, thus, we should consider a sequel to “The Art of War”; we might call it “The Art of Ex-War”. Today we want to end war. And to end war is more than crisis management and conflict resolution though this is very important. The true art of “ex-war” would go to the root of war itself -- which is economic and cultural and psychological.

We are in new circumstances and a new environment today. First, what has changed in history? In 1991 with the fall of communism the world passed out of the epoch of war into a completely different situation. Market economies came to dominate, these plugged into the global marketplace of trade, investments, stocks and government bonds, reserve currencies. This in turn has produced the massive migration of workforces and the embryos of multiculturalism in many nations across the planet. What is different today? For the first time the world has “One Shared Economy” and this changes everything. The “one shared economy” has ended the rationale for war and, thus, the rationality of war.

Before this new age, nations fought primarily because they did not have a shared economic system (though there was trade, an “empire” was the prime goal). Systems competed with each other, they took from one another, they preemptively attacked the other, they subjugated and incorporated one another. This was the condition of “no shared economy”. These were separate systems that fought with each other to the death. Each system had a central nation that dominated other nations and regions. From ancient city states to old empires to modern nations and empires built on digital networks, jet travel and supertankers, all are based upon war.

In the modern period, World War I was such a war between imperial nations for colonies. World War II was a continuation of this behavior where Germany and Italy sought a re-division of colonies. Russian which had broken completely out of the capitalist economic network was drawn into the war because of Hitler’s designs on making it a colony of a “Greater Germania”. The Cold War that ensued after World War II was based ultimately upon two different irreconcilable economic systems, communism and capitalism. So the Cold War generated the hot conflicts of civil war, revolution and national liberation.

However, after 1991 we do not have two opposing economic systems nor do we have the old colonial arrangement of empires with separate economies based upon the exploitation of undeveloped nations. We have one shared economic system with many independent nations. The age of empires, colonialism, invasion and world war is all over. We just passed out of this last stage of imperialism. A great revolution has occurred though some have not noticed it.

The mortgage crisis points out clearly the new period of economic interdependency. The quick spread of the global recession was caused by the wholesale spread of mortgage backed securities across the planet. We have a one world economy now; all are in a single market system.

To have war in this age of an interdependent economic system makes no sense at all. It would be like, in the USA, Ohio attacking Nevada. It is ridiculous, perhaps a good fantasy story idea but just that, a fantasy. Economic competition is the battle of today. This is a “warfare” that is economic; it is civil and acceptable, it is conflict by a new set of rules for an age that is more advanced. Military warfare is essentially of the past, so the art of war is essentially obsolete. And now we must think in terms of an “art of ex-war”, in terms of new strategies and principles of peace, cooperation, communication, diversity, multiple perception, mutual agreement and aid.

Unfortunately, some do not grasp this new age. We are in the transition to this new period of peace; it has been 18 years since the watershed beginning of the new period. George W, the Waster, and his Band of Merry Wasters (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and company) brought the old cold war and colonialist mentality to this fresh age. They used the strategy and principles of the dead epoch.

They increased US military spending when we should have been decreasing it. Why? There is no basis for world war anymore! Further, there is no rationale for 900 military bases around the world. 900 hospitals around the world would fit better this epoch, 900 universities, yes, but 900 bases? No, it is irrational and not acceptable.

The dictionary defines a “zombie” as a walking dead person. It seems there are many zombies walking around spouting obsolete foreign policy for an obsolete world situation. People who thrived in the age of the cold war and imperialism did not die. They are still among us. They write, lecture, get interviewed and get elected, yet they are dead. However, the zombies don’t know it and they stink up the global neighborhood.

Consider the issue of nuclear weapons? There are estimated to be more than 20,000 nuclear weapons on the planet, enough to wipe out human civilization many times over. There is no rational argument for so many weapons in an age where we will conflict only as businesses. How does a nuclear weapon help in the economic marketplace? Is it a last-resort tool for contract negotiations? Is a nuclear bomb a new kind marketing or advertising tool? Will new MBAs be trained in “marketing and massacre”?

To be continued…

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Author`s name Alex Naumov