War mongering to secure one’s relevance, dominance and survival

TORONTO – Lord, spare us. Twelve years ago this week, a couple of Canadian political figures, at the time, relatively obscure except for rather fortuitous circumstances having nothing to do with personal talent, “squared off” to prove “their mettle”. It is a teen-age boy testosterone thing in North America. Some of us never outgrow it. 

This throwback to a “Medieval joust” or “Wild West Shootout” did not hurt the political fortunes of either individual. The winner later went on to become Prime Minister, the “loser” continues to be a Senator, and will be so until 2049.

Political observers were, and are, kind to the participants of those one-on-one events of the past, arguably because it was a way of “releasing political pressure”. Cynics may disagree. At any rate, skeptics are in the majority.

Countries where “dueling” formed an integral part of their decision-making and “problem-solving” techniques seem to find their way back to what was “tried, true and effective”. For instance, Emmanuel Macron, France’s current President, must have reviewed the fight tapes of that [make believe] “joust” in 2012 as part of his foreign policy briefings before pronouncing himself – brashly – on the potential of Europe (and NATO) engaging Russia in a war.

The rhetoric, with supporting pictures, coming from the Champs Elisee, warned the Eastern European giant, and its leader, that European responses to Putin’s threats would be met by “toughness in training”. For those who cared, it also held a hidden message that France would be “right there” to defend Europe… “just watch me working out in the gym!”

Radical Islamist supporters of the Muslim Caliphate (ISIS) must have extrapolated some “lessons” from both events as they proceeded to “poke the [Russian] bear” on Friday. The body count is not, as yet, complete. Predictably, Russia’s decision was to blame Ukraine as the originator of the scheme, thusly intensifying its military actions and threatening the expansion of the war in technology and in territorial scope.

The diplomatic world, though, distinguishes between fact and fiction on an hourly basis, despite temptations to the contrary. The allure of the economic “benefits” accruing to the expansion of the military industrial complex is too bright to ignore.

It would be a long essay to explore and explain the table below. Suffice it to say that the military budget of the USA roughly equals Canada’s annual GDP. The second column is equally startling. The highest spender per capita is Israel (see the graphic below, from Military Spending by Country 2024 (worldpopulationreview.com).

Back to Macron. Which muscles is he training for “the big strike”? England with a population comparable to France’s (about 50% of Russia’s) already spends a total equivalent to Russia’s on war preparations and virtually twice as much on a per capita basis. How much more warmongering does the world need before it implodes into the “real thing”, unless global warming gets us first, without blowing everything into smithereens?

Have we lost the will or the ability to negotiate?