This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Why military alliances are stupid

Military alliances make no sense.
All right, so I didn’t keep you waiting, there’s the message of this blog post.
Again – today, military alliances make no sense.
What is a military alliance, anyway? What does it get you?  Security? Not on your life.
This is not the nineteenth century, a time of endless conflicts and unending wars. No one begins wars nowadays without some compelling reason, even if that compelling reason is one others would find mercenary, cynical or plain crazy.
This isn’t the world of a few centuries ago when small countries might pool their armies to resist the aggressive designs of a single large and powerful enemy or a conglomeration of enemies. Even then it rarely worked; the Napoleonic Wars saw various small states band together, but in the end it was the big countries – the Russians, the Prussians, the British – who, jointly and severally, beat Napoleon. The Italian city states, for example, just got steamrollered into the ground. And that was then.
So, what would a military alliance in today’s world achieve? It wouldn’t be an alliance of small countries with one another. All that would achieve would be some kind of ad hoc alliance of convenience, like the Second Congo Civil War (the one that’s not quite over yet) where the two competing sides would fight to a standstill and then begin fighting among themselves. No, the much more likely shape of a modern alliance would be small countries clustering together under one large and hegemonic country, allegedly for “protection”.
Protection from what? Aye, there’s the rub.
Can you really imagine a World War II style campaign any more? No? No ground invasion of Western Europe, tanks landing in Denmark and rumbling past the Dutch windmills? Can you imagine Blitzkrieg in the nuclear age? Still no?
Then what the hell is the point of an alliance?
In my opinion, there are only two:
Firstly, the alliance enables a large and hegemonic power (I’m not talking names here) to claim that it has international backing as it goes about its nefarious purposes. All it has to do is call in its alliances.
Then, it enables that hegemonic power to get its “allies” to provide the cannon fodder for the fighting, to do the dying in its stead.
You’ll notice that all the advantages here rest with the hegemonic hyperpower in this equation. The little countries get nothing out of it except the doubtful privilege of providing the warm bodies to take some of the strain off the big one.
If you’re a country allied to a hegemonic hyperpower, you can be sure that the hyperpower won’t come to your aid in your troubles (your troubles, unless it’s convenient for the hyperpower to intervene for its own reasons, are far too small to figure on its radar) – but you can be just as sure that when the hyperpower demands your help in its squabbles, you’ll have to come running, even if that squabble has nothing whatever to do with you.
Also, because losing an ally is a big loss of face, you can be sure that your government will be forced to remain loyal to the hyperpower and periodically demonstrate its fealty. Otherwise it will be “regime-changed”. It’s happened again and again – ChileGrenadaNicaragua,IranIraqHungaryCzechoslovakia, and more are cooking right now. Just in order to preserve its existence, the government will have to crawl when it’s asked merely to bend.
Which is why I’m amazed that not one Indian media outlet or political party (except the left) has spoken out about India’s unspoken alliance with the US and its local vassals Australia and Japan.

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