Monthly Archives: July 2009

What war does to our conscience

Recalling the other night with my friend I told him of my time in L’Aquila, Italy a few months ago where I witnessed villages of people living in blue tents provided by the government, receiving food in a main tent with plastic cups and plates, receiving clothing as was necessary and trying to come to terms with the devastation of an earthquake that left a region of 144,000 much in ruins.
I recalled with my friend how an interesting discussion occurred the last night I stayed in L’Aquila with a young woman who I came up from Rome with. As we were finishing our dinner we were pondering the future of the place, the people and people’s perceptions and attitudes. An interesting point she made was that the older generations are a real help in this situation given they have been through this before – World War II. This took me by surprise as I considered her remark, and I have been pondering this on and off ever since.
Today, the independent revealed the death of Hatty Pratch, an 111 year old British citizen who fought in WWI. He states in an interview that ‘war is organised murder, and nothing else.’ This to many political scientists is not a realistic view of war, in fact for many realists it is a necessary evil in an anarchic world.
My question however is this: how many political scientists, government strategists and experts in the field of politics and war have ever been in one, experienced the trauma and devastating effects war first-or even second hand, have seen the dead lying in fields, or one of their cities under attack? I certainly haven’t, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suppose that many of those trained in the field of politics since the mid 1980’s in the great power countries, and possibly most countries for that matter (given the priveleged elite go to university in lesser-developed countries) have never experienced a war, or at least experienced the consequences of such an ordeal.
Are we wise then, in putting our lives in the hands of devision makers who do not understand the full ramifications of war?
This may be a bit of a ramble but hopefully it has helped probe some more thoughts -for instance, if one has had personal experience of war would it change their future willingness to go to war if they are in a position to make such a decision. The League of Nations was constructed not based on theories but on experiences; where the sight of devastation and negative impacts of war had caused them to push for a better world despite theories that might argue that the status quo of war will always remain.


Reflecting on the first transnational company

Loot: in search of the East India Company, the world’s first transnational corporation. By Nick Robbins

 After thinking about the impact of capitalism and transnational actors in the global political economy, I wondered what the motives and impact was for the first transnational company- the origin of the species.  Having a little google, I discovered this neat, short article that highlights some of the complexities, failures and techniques of the [supposedly] first transnational company, the East Indian Company. Learning from history requires firstly knowing it, and this article does help one ponder the intricacies of corporate influence on other political, social and cultural structures globally while also recounting a key historical case in international trade.