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Universal War Machine

By Michael McCurley

Welcome to planet earth. Our Universal War Machine is the largest continually
operating machine that man has ever built. Its biomechanical nature is continuously
renewed with replaceable human components. Integral feedback systems guarantee
constant operation without any fear of suspension of service. Millions of expert
professionals are dedicated to its successful functions throughout the world, in many
places using the most advanced technology man can develop. Support is reinforced by
thousands of years of qualified experience, making this machine the most effective the
world as ever known. It has never failed in its operations or completely broken down,
providing thousands of wars between all societies and nations. Its potential applications
today are greater than ever. Economic indicators of all markets show that it’s still the
biggest business in the world today.

Here are a few guidelines for operating the machine.

1) The Universal War Machine is the sum of all armies and all weapons on planet
earth throughout history.

2) Each country develops an army and weapons to protect its own resources or
obtain control over more resources in other countries.

3) The fact that most nations have armies and military potential serves as a
protective deterrent as long as there is a balanced correlation of forces.

4) The effect of mutual deterrence among all nations guarantees the renewal and
longevity of the machine, which for all practical purposes is immortal.

5) Increasing the opposition between any of the parts contributes to the strength or
size of the whole.

6) Imbalances occur with groups of people who use force or military expansion to
gain greater power or control over resources such as land, water, minerals, people,
coal, timber, petroleum, raw materials, factories, power stations, contraband,
financial capital, and drugs.

7) War occurs when one side attacks another to exploit a temporary advantage, or
through a perspective of self-defense when it’s threatened.

8) A constant threat of war or potential for war maintains optimum operating

systems for the machine, which will always function, as long as there are reasons
for war.
9) A perfect balance of counter-forces produces a zero sum game for all participants
that work within the structure of the machine. There’s no way any particular side
will actually win, though wars are fought with that objective in mind.

10) The existence of the machine will be kept secret as long as those who run the
component counterparts of the machine never recognize the overall functions of
the whole.

Additional Notes Affecting Warranties in Foreign Countries

War is universal because it gives people something to fight for. Wars between men
have been waged throughout time and are still being fought today. Technology only
changes the means that are used in wars, not the reasons. Men will never be able to detain
the machine until they understand how and why it acts in the ways it does.

The main reason for war is a struggle for power. Its primary tool is fear and the
main fruits of war are destruction, domination and oppression. Its purpose is to employ
force instead of reason to attain immediate objectives by any means. Technology is
perfectly adapted to create new techniques to wage war, which evolve over time. War
stimulates the evolving development of weapons instead of the evolving development of

Wars conscript young men who might question the conservative rules governing
their societies and rebel. They are employed instead to attack the enemy and defend the
nation. If they are lost in battles, they can be replaced by other young men who are taught
to fight with a few weeks of minimal training. The rest of the population is unaffected
except for the consequences of a wartime economy. Skilled and experienced labor is
reserved and defended to serve a nation, unless the enemy begins to destroy the civilian
population base that provides strategic support for a war.

A successful war must be fought against an enemy with a clear set of objectives,
well prepared armies, and superior weapons. The enemy who is disadvantaged in one or
more of these areas will lose. The best wars are short ones. Protracted wars waste
resources and can defeat the purpose for which they are fought. By the same token,
smaller forces can successfully fight larger ones in protracted wars if they deplete the
resources and resolve of a larger enemy.

Directly or indirectly, all citizens who pay taxes feed the Universal War Machine.
It makes no difference where people live, what ideology they follow, or what religious
affiliation they may have. The global war machine is everywhere. As part of it grows in
one place, an opposing twin will grow somewhere else. If it’s suppressed in one region, it
will suddenly appear in another. Like the mythological Hydra, the Universal War
Machine supercedes nations, races and civilizations, having existed for thousands of
years. While its weapons, armies, fortifications and commanding generals must
periodically be replaced, the war machine is constantly renewed to retain its effectiveness
and strength. It thrives upon contention and opposition. Entire industries and economies
depend upon its continued viability.
Successful operation of the Universal War Machine is based upon the myth that
men can achieve important objectives through war. While this may temporarily appear to
be true, unless war is waged in self defense, less is usually accomplished by fighting a
war than can be achieved without fighting one at all. The primary motive force that feeds
the war machine is fear. Nations build armies out of the fear that other nations will build
stronger armies to overpower them. They build weapons systems to match the capabilities
of their adversaries, and escalate production if they detect that their opponents are doing
the same. And all of this comes not out of intelligence but fear.

Isaac Asimov once said, “violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” People
go to war because their leaders are power hungry or incapable of resolving their domestic
problems by other means. War can be effective to mobilize a nation in an emergency, but
its ultimate objective is destructive. The threat of destruction is often nearly as effective
as any attempt to carry it out. But the means used to make good that threat also feed the
war machine by investing huge quantities of capital resources, making the competition an
economic as well as a military one. The Cold War provides an excellent example of this.
The United States and the Soviet Union, both having nuclear weapons, fought battles
with conventional weapons in proxy states, avoiding more direct confrontations until one
of the two sides withdrew after exhausting short-term strategic resources and debilitating
its own political system.

Factors Which May Affect or Void the Warranty

One small country, Costa Rica, made a surprising choice in 1948 that affected its
capacity for waging war. Following the Battle of Ochomogo, two opposing sides sat
down after the forces of Jose Figueres won an important military victory. The problem
was the opposition wasn’t about to go away simply because it had lost. The victors
wanted the losers to disarm. The losers pointed out that unless the victors themselves
were willing to disarm, there was no motivation for anyone to lay down their weapons. In
a surprise move, Figueres proposed that he abolish his army and implement social
guarantees that the communists who opposed him were fighting for. He would do this and
give eventual legal political participation to the communist party if their forces would lay
down their weapons as well, and renounce violence as a means to achieve their
objectives. The rest is the stuff of history. Figueres, as the new President, disbanded the
army, the two sides disarmed simultaneously, the communist party was legally
recognized, and social guarantees such as a progressive labor code and public health care
were implemented. Meanwhile, the United States and the Soviet Union waged a
debilitating Cold War for the next 40 years. Costa Ricans could live in relative peace,
while the rest of Central America was ravaged by wars for the next four decades. Costa
Rica helped lead the way to a peace agreement among Central American nations in the
1980’s, once again showing that its own solution would work on a larger scale.

This may be a small side note in world history, but it does represent a chink in the
armor of the Universal War Machine, and it underscores a few things: 1) It is possible to
end war if both sides are willing to make concessions; 2) Disarmament is the only means
by which the war machine will be disabled. 3) Novel solutions may be required to
accommodate the demands of opposing sides, but this is preferable to armed conflict,
especially if it leads to positive long-term developments.

The passing of one generation to another has minimized the importance of this
accomplishment. Fortunately or unfortunately for the rest of the world, the effects of
unilateral disarmament have been isolated to a single region. Armies still exist in almost
all other countries, and wars, for the most part are still waged in the rest of the world.

Service Warranty During Period of Operation

Where are we today? Since the end of the Cold War, the major issues which once
divided nations are less likely to draw entire countries into conflict, but protracted wars
between unequal forces have pitted armies of larger nations against the unconventional
forces of smaller ones. There’s no way conventional armies will win decisive victories
with long-term benefits.

The War Machine is universal, transnational, non-denominational, polytheistic,

and transcultural. It employs and destroys human beings from all sides and walks of life,
throughout all ages, without discriminating or excluding any society, according to the
tides of war. It devours friends, foes and innocents alike, and will do this until the end of
time or until the machine itself is dismantled. Men depend upon their enemies to make
the machine work. They fight them with a hatred that approaches love, and often make
friends with them later, after a war is ends. The war machine needs blood lust, unbridled
emotions, and young soldiers to keep going and growing strong.

Millions of children have been consumed by the machine, and yet people still
worship and give it reverence for protecting them from themselves. And that’s the
greatest joke of all. We fight our wars against a single unbeatable foe each and every
time. We have met the enemy on land, at sea, and in the air and it’s us. The soldiers we
fight are people like us in different uniforms with other perspectives, but we’re brothers
and sisters fighting one another, instead of fighting together for our common good. Every
battle won is a battle lost. Every enemy annihilated is a victim slain. Muslim, Christian,
Hindu, pagan, Shiite, Sunni, Buddhist, Jew—all go into a common grave. A shared
genetic code leads us to do it all over again in the name of whatever we are fighting for,
giving homage to the machine, caring for it, serving and feeding it, until one generation
dies and is replaced by another that will do the same.

The farce only ends if we recognize it for what it is. We’re the ones who created
the Universal War Machine, but we’ve lost that fact from memory since our ancestors
died and never left proper operating instructions—until now. All we have to guide us are
recent wars and histories of wars, which only give an idea of what to do in case of war.
We know enough to maintain the machine, but fail to realize that the more we feed it, the
bigger it grows. The only way to stop that growth is to stop feeding the machine, or
reduce what we put into it. But if we’re addicted to the habit of maintenance, it will
continue destroying and growing, consuming our children and resources until… we stop.
Other Factors Which May Void the Warranty
Although I’ve described the dynamics of the war machine in metaphorical terms,
the biomechanics of the machine are global and quite real. The machine is powered by
any conflict, regardless of who’s right or wrong, regardless of who wins or loses. On a
global scale, the result of war is always a net loss that gives strength to the machine. And
since most people have a limited or poor understanding of how it works, they tend to do
the opposite of what’s necessary to control its growth. I’ve used an emotional appeal to
counter the implicit emotional appeal that justifies war. We’re consumed, if not destroyed
by the machine, for no distinct benefit to ourselves. In the vast majority of cases, we
sacrifice our lives, not for our race, nation, heritage, or belief—but to the machine (like
the monster Dr. Frankenstein created, which destroyed him).

The dynamics of the war machine also shows us how it may be controlled.
Though there are few historical examples when people have circumvented the power of
the machine, there are actual cases when this has happened. The paradox of the solution
is both simple and difficult—STOP FEEDING THE MACHINE. It’s a simple solution
that will stop or reverse growth, but difficult because we’re unlikely to do that. Stopping
the machine requires that we overcome our fears, sit down with our former enemies, and
learn to tolerate or respect the needs and differences of people in other societies.
Surprisingly, we have begun to do that. Russia and the United States have both begun
nuclear disarmament. To overcome the Universal War Machine, we have to develop an
understanding of ourselves and others that transcends biases and boundaries.
Disarmament of all weapon systems and armies should continue. We may be closer to
understanding this now than we were in the past. Worldwide Internet and mass media
suggest we’re all really inhabitants of a single planet who must live together without
preparing for a constant state of war.

An understanding of System Dynamics can give us the abilities to meld the

powers of mind and machine in positive ways instead of negative ones. System Dynamics
allows people to create computer simulations of mental models and deal with multiple
variables of complex systems. A simulation model can help a person examine and
understand how each aspect or variable interacts with others, providing better ways to
understand the impact of our actions. This is important for understanding huge systems
like the Universal War Machine. You can find free software to learn how to use System
Dynamics through the Internet.

Perhaps we can find better ways to prepare our young than by training them for
war. We can teach them longer, make them healthy, and use intelligence instead of force
to solve the problems we face in a world we must all share together. At its inception,
System Dynamics was used for complex fire control systems to direct weapons. Now it
has the potential for ending the conflicts that could cause wars before they begin.

Its time to disassemble the machine we’ve used to make war, and use machines to
enhance our abilities to think. All we need is to recognize a process we’ve already begun.
Let’s forget about wars and reinvest our creative energies and resources to make a better
world for all of us.
This article may be shared for personal or educational purposes only. It may not be
reproduced for any other reason without express permission from the author.
©August 2009

About the Author. Michael McCurley is an alumnus of Massachusetts Institute of

Technology’s Guided Study Program in System Dynamics for Education that was
offered through the Internet. He lives in Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.