We know how one mobilises for war. Once the conflict is created, the process of mobilisation starts with patriotic appeals, rallies, demonstrations, hymns, speeches, stunning sounds, multiplied images. The first shot hasn’t been fired, but the war is already holy, just, necessary. Lately, the art of mobilising for war has perfected its methods, enhancing the governments’ compulsive authority and the influence of personal and collective restraints. Persuasion finds its perfect expression in mobilisation for war. Man is more easily mobilised for war than for peace.
Mankind has been led to accept war as the only effective way to solve conflicts, and governments have always used times of peace to prepare for the next war. But wars have always been declared in the name of lasting peace; it’s always so that children can live in peace tomorrow that their parents have to sacrifice today.
Those who hypocritically proclaim this message today know that human beings, although taught for war, carry a desire of peace within their spirit. Man understands that what will give him full humanity is a scientific and technological development directed not to aggression, but to peace. This is why peace is used as moral blackmail for those who want war: nobody would dare to confess they make war for war, they say they make war for peace.
What was true yesterday still is today. Unlike what the North American propaganda machine wants, Saddam Hussein, without doubt a criminal, is not a threat to world peace. Iraq, simply, is at the moment the most accessible oil target. That is one of the reasons for the United States’ warlike obsession. The other reason can probably be found in Washington’s imperial and neo-colonial project that, in order to advance into Central Asia, needs to gain control of the Middle East.
© José Saramago 2003
Originally published as part of a debate on 6th February 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. II