How the “war of justice and lawfare” unleashed a century of permanent conflict

Here lies Auguste Henri Bouillaud, buried as a hero in a military cemetery in north eastern France.

Bouillaud gave his life in defence of his country some 104 years ago, during World War One, so let us now examine his sacrifice in the context of ‘the war to end all wars.

Press commentary on France’s 1914 war aims was banned, with all energies directed to keeping the population onside for the “the war of justice and lawfare.”

This largely centred on securing national borders against the Prussian threat and recovering Alsace-Lorraine, a resonant theme after decades of turbulence on the eastern frontier.

The appeal to national survival and salvation through the defeat of a feared enemy, was useful in neutralising any further examination of how a successful outcome to the war could advance France’s colonial ambitions, its wish to access greater supplies of raw materials and its desire for a new European order.

France’s war aims evolved over the course of the global conflict. After Russia was convulsed by revolution and civil war, the country’s political class came out in support of “democracy as a condition for peace.”

‘Make war to make democracy’ has become a familiar refrain ever since, as the invasion of Iraq and the “we got there just in time” liberation of Grenada amply demonstrate.

These examples of statecraft reveal the ease with which our masters turn ploughshares into swords on the basis that more killing keeps us safer.

In the post-Vietnam era of conscription armies and mercenaries employed by military contractors, lethal violence and war-making have never been easier, nor more politically-expedient.

Moreover, the ‘war business’ is now backed by five centuries of detailed experience showing just how conflict boosts Western economies.

The endless struggles of early modern Europe forced the contesting nations to strengthen their revenue structures and armaments industries. This finance, technology and arms race gave them a decisive advantage in later wars against peoples in Asia, Africa and the ‘New World.’

Europe’s dominion over the globe was the result of superior weaponry, critical advances in science and medicine and technological improvements harnessed to capitalist enterprise.

Communism was pushed into the dustbin of history in part because the Russians were broken by the costs of keeping pace with the American military-industrial project.

The demise of Communism encouraged real hope that the pre-eminence of the Western war-economy would go the same way.

How foolish this has proved to be.

The Cold War struggle between democratic states and the Communist bloc has morphed easily into a ‘Clash Of Civilisations’ confrontation with political Islam, with its roots in the rise of Israel, the Suez crisis and the fall of the Iranian Shah.

Jihadists, near and far, are an ever-present threat to our open societies.
Predictably, the latest vile terrorist outrage in France at the Notre Dame Basilica in Nice, paved the way for a slew of news articles and media commentary discussing the place of Muslims in the country.

This narrative is the near automatic response of the commentariat to terrorism.

How unfavourably this compares to the media reaction to the United Kingdom’s 30 year battle against the Irish Republican Army.

In spite of strong incentives, neither the British government, nor the national media declared that ‘The Troubles’ were the product of ‘political Catholicism.’

Instead, they persisted, in public at least, with the view that the IRA was a criminal conspiracy that could be defeated by closing-off the gun men’s money supply and through the maintenance of political resolve, steadfast police work and the intelligence service’s comprehensive penetration of terrorist networks.

Of course, political negotiations between the British and Irish governments and Sinn Fein representatives remained ‘off camera’ but by the time of the Good Friday Agreement, the IRA had come to the conclusion that it was thoroughly compromised and could not win and so peace was made.

Could this ‘M3P’ recipe of money, politics, police work and penetration help us to defeat the armed zealots who hide behind their religious texts and cause mayhem?

Do human rights-based societies have any other choice?

Father, journalist, podcaster, digital strategist, photographer, videographer, social media and intercultural trainer, musician, swimmer and eternally hopeful.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Friendship with Sudan and Israel: Why a big ‘yes’ from Trump

Chile cries out for reforms, unrest in Haiti, and a regional plan to protect environmental rights…

Robbed of their livestock and hunted out of their land

The Good and the Bad of the Privacy Ruling

Terror, cyber libel, and resisting internet shutdowns from Rakhine to Papua

Fundamentalism and Buddhism

Mattis is splitting hairs over Assad’s chemical mass murder

The Role of Business in Peace Processes: Missed Opportunities?

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


Father, journalist, podcaster, digital strategist, photographer, videographer, social media and intercultural trainer, musician, swimmer and eternally hopeful.

More from Medium

The Age of Humanitarianism: Perspectives from Yemen — Part 2

Geek Out with Rachael — Myths on Sulfites in Wine

Common problems when using glucose meters

Imagine a medical cannabis prescription window at the VA hospital

Medical Cannabis Veterans Military Mental Health Veterans Administration Hospital Medical Prescription Window