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Deceptions and 'self-righteousness' didn't start with Israel, Palestine war

This screenshot taken from a video released by the  Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shows Israeli forces conducting a raid in the northern Gaza Strip on Oct. 26, 2023. [Xinhua]

War is a serious enterprise for warmongers. They play tricks that make likely victims appear like the aggressors. The tricks are part of elaborate public relations schemes aimed at convincing domestic and foreign audiences that aggression is self-defence. It is a problem that Aurelia Augustine identified more than 1,600 years ago as he expanded the just war concept which warmongers exploit with relish. The fighting in Palestine, that has disrupted geopolitical thinking, is one of such instances. It is full of deceptions and self-righteousness and neatly reinforces the views that ‘truth’ and ‘media’ are immediate casualties in times of war.

It is not the first time that leaders deceive to provoke war. All wars, China man Sun Tzu reportedly asserted, are based on deception. Indian strategist, Kautilya, recommended deception as a way of creating disruptions in rival camps. He also warned kings to avoid wrong policies for they undermine sovereignty. Leaders who are obsessed with power end up ignoring basic precautions of governance. They fail to see dangers arising from their war-provoking decisions. Among the precautions is what Carl Von Clausewitz distinguished as between ‘real’ and ‘true’ war in which, he argued, that war tends to be extension of politics by other means. War, therefore, is power politics whether at the village or global level and it involves a lot of deception and pretensions of self-righteousness.

The application of politics in the form of war explains European competition for the Atlantic slave trade, mercantilism, the worldwide wars for colonies, and the rise of European extension in the Western Hemisphere called the United States of America. It is responsible for the wars of colonisation in Africa where deceit and self-righteousness were the norm. In the 19th, 20th and21st centuries, prominent ‘leaders’ pursued their geopolitical objectives through deceit and carefully manufactured wars. Otto von Bismarck of Prussia manufactured several wars to achieve the objective of creating modern Germany. Doctoring a telegram, he successfully provoked Napoleon III of France into a war which France lost.

More successful in provoking wars and destruction of others is the US which expanded its territorial claims and went beyond the continent while proclaiming divine missions. Through deceit and provocations, it acquired Florida, and deprived Mexico its land from Texas to California in the name of Manifest Destiny to spread Jacksonian Democracy. It subjugated and put native Americans in reservation camps and then turned its imperial attention to the remnants of Spanish colonies, particularly Cuba.

With the media cheering on, it provoked war with Spain and acquired the Philippines because God supposedly told President William McKinley to do so. War mongering Theodore Roosevelt, among those who provoked war with Spain, snatched Panama from Colombia to build a canal, and came to Kenya to advise settlers to create a ‘white man’s country.’ Failure to do so, he asserted at the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, would be a crime/sin against humanity. The humanity he had in mind was the white one which was then free to thrash the rest.

The belief that one people had right to thrash the rest partly accounts for wars of the 20th and 21st centuries in which the US was/is the major player. The French provoked the rise of modern Zionism which in turn provoked commotions in the Middle East. This led to intensified ideological and geopolitical confrontations between Washington and Moscow called the Cold War which the Americans won partly by tricking the Soviets into Afghanistan. It then became geopolitically cocky and ignored Russian security concerns.

It turned Kiev into a bait to plunge Moscow into Ukraine in the hope that the attack might lead to Russian economic self-destruction. The expected Russian economic melt-down, however, failed and after one year the war appeared to induce Western countries economic crisis. There followed Gaza diversion as possible pretext for attacking Iran, should the Iranians ‘cooperate’. Deception preceding wars is normal.

The writer is a historian.  

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