INDIA DEFENCE CONSULTANTS
MORALITY OF WAR IN THE 21ST CENTURY -- AN IDC ANALYSIS
by Ranjit B Rai
Delhi, 13 October 2001
morality of the war that USA and its allies have launched in Afghanistan
is being questioned and deserves a second opinion. Change is the only
constant and in recent years the course of wars as witnessed between Iran
and Iraq, the Gulf war, India’s foray into Sri Lanka and more recently
the war in Serbia, have all proved that victory is as elusive and blurred
as the aim of the war itself.
aims themselves have become dynamic and keep changing. This is because the
world is saddled with widely varying economies, from the very rich to the
abject poor and despite differing cultures and religions all are being
forced to embrace globalization.
to advancements in miniaturization of electronics, information travels
instantaneously by radio, mobile phones, the Internet and vivid TV
pictures to inform all and sundry simultaneously. It is no wonder
therefore that strategic and economic interests clash with human rights.
justification to kill or maim civilians in such wars, is being questioned.
This makes life difficult for Governments, which are required to issue
clear-cut orders and aims to their military, which wage the war and whose
weapons have devastating potencies.
there can be no such thing as total success or victory in war and that
realization has just hit USA only a few days after their strikes in
Afghanistan. The shock action of their air power has decimated the major
targets and now ground action is calling. The question before them is what
next and at what cost?
today’s war, information warfare and the media have become very powerful
tools and these two elements can generate controversies of their own
–– both by defining the aims and dictating what success means ––
to a mass audience. Thus public perception of the war has become
and the coalition partners claim they won the Gulf war by liberating
Kuwait and restoring it to the rightful owners. Yet their aim to get
Saddam Hussein, an original objective, was never achieved and Iraq under
him still poses a threat to the USA. The leaders of the then coalition,
Bush Senior and Margaret Thatcher, are gone but Saddam still rules and
there is talk that the USA may train its guns on Iraq.
OP Pawan the full Army of India went to assist Sri Lanka, lost 1500 souls
and came back empty handed. The terrorist organization LTTE they tried to
tame, still haunts Sri Lanka.
brings one to the morality of ‘Enduring Freedom’, which is somewhat
following Gandhiji’s moral advocacy of war to be exercised as “Loving
Violence”. Weapons and food are being rained on Afghanistan
was strategic necessity for USA to avenge what the suicidal hijackers did
on 11 Sep. Morally the USA has to get Osama bin Laden, the Al Queda
network and the Taliban out of the way, and yet ensure that the Afghan
people do not starve or die in collateral damage. USA’s economic
interest of oil in the region and reconstruction of Afghanistan will
follow, but till then USA has to sup with the devil Pakistan, who bred the
terrorists. It has no option.
also is the diffused morality of war in the 21st Century and
nations will have to live with such changed scenarios of world politics.
India too may have to sup with some actors on the scene and protect its
strategic and economic interests.
should therefore be no hesitation on the part of the BJP coalition
government to permit USA’s massive forces ranged in the Indian Ocean, to
seek out rest and repair facilities for their ships and aircraft at Indian
havens and at yards in Mumbai, Visakhapatnam and Cochin, as these
facilities have been studied by them.
and others will spend their moneys and India will be richer by the
exposure. In the past these yards have received foreign ships and earned
valuable foreign exchange. There will also be no harm in allowing Goa,
Cochin and other destinations like Lakshwadweep, for rest and recreation
of the American Forces and their families, as their deployment is likely
to be long.
today’s changed global scenario the only morality is to safeguard the
nation’s strategic and economic interests and use the media with
convincing and persuasive powers to get the masses on board. That risk has
to be taken.
Musharraf has taken on the gauntlet and may well succeed. Then we can
demand our pound of flesh including a just settlement in Kashmir and
crushing of the Pakistan terrorist onslaught, which has bled us and cost
us over 3 billion dollars.
on the fence on old norms of morality may be counterproductive.