The Already Thirty-Five Years’ War

1979-2014 and still counting!

Pope Francis denouncing global violence as "a piecemeal Third World War."

Pope Francis denouncing global violence as “a piecemeal Third World War” at Redipuglia Cemetery where 100,000 Italian soldiers killed in the First World War are buried in Italy near its border with Slovenia, 13 September 2014. Agence France Presse (AFP).

We have been engaged in a nearly continuous but rarely acknowledged war for thirty-five years. It began in 1979, twenty-two years before the terror attacks of 9/11. This war is fought around the globe as a patchwork of campaigns between various factions of multiple and shifting alliances. Even Pope Francis recognized this odd and gruesome conflict as a “piecemeal third world war.” Although the combat is small in scale, it has at least two characteristics of a world war: 1) the sheer number of nation-states, stateless-nations, and non-state groups engaged, and 2) fighting and bombing on every continent save Antarctica.

This war has also been called the Middle East’s version of Europe’s Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) and the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) due to its widespread, confusing, and desultory patterns of overlapping conflicts and aims. Yet this war is barely recognizable as one long war. Even fewer see the direct relationships between the capitalist system and warfare. The more people see and openly acknowledge we have been in an ongoing war for at least 35 years, the greater we experience a long, overdue change of perspective. The sooner more and more people recognize this long war and numerous others are driven largely by capitalism with its systemic exploitation of ethnic and religious divisions to better access and control natural resources and transportation routes, the sooner we develop strategies to end war. A deep shift in perspective may shift how we approach and resolve this conflict. First we need to see what we are doing.

The morning after airstrikes and cruise missile attacks on homes and buildings destroyed by the United States, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates in Syria with France and the U.K. planning to join the campaign against the Islamic State, 24 September 2014.

Two days after the People’s Climate March in 2,200-2,500 cities across the planet and the morning after airstrikes and cruise missile attacks on homes and buildings destroyed by the United States, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates in Syria with France and the U.K., already in Iraq, planning to join Dutch forces in the Syrian campaign against the Islamic State, 24 September 2014.

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