Beyond the Gates of Splendor is a 2004 documentary film that chronicles the first contact between the indigenous Huaorani people in Ecuador and westerners. It focuses, in the opening scenes, on the pre-contact history of cyclical, intra-tribal killing and revenge killing — a kind of synchronized warmongering. From an anthropological perspective, the film teaches us, incredulously, that the Huaorani only needed to be told that theirs was a koyaanisqatsi — a way of life that called for another way of living. Once told this, the killing stopped.
There is only a few months to go to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. Based on recent events, though, there may not be a Korean Peninsula left on which to host them. But what if there were a Warmongering Olympics this year? Who would host it? I think the International Olympic Committee would have to award it to Syria. There would, of course, be many other contenders.
How would the medal table compare to the last Olympics in Rio? Top of the Rio table was the United States. I don't think any further speculation is necessary. Second was Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Its last unilateral war was against Argentina (over the Falkland Islands). It has, however, participated militarily in many coalitions in recent years. It would certainly place high in the table. Its colonial past could make it top of the all-time medal list. China was third. Its wars are global, post-colonial economic wars these days. However, China would be much lower than third in the table. Germany was fourth and Japan fifth. While their past history would place them high on the all-time list, many countries would top them today.
This month's photo shows an example of warmongering that has been common for many centuries — war against indigenous people. It was taken at a re-enactment of the forced displacement of the Cherokee people in the Southeastern United States. Indigenous people themselves are not excluded from warmongering. The Ancient Olympics are generally recognized to have ended in 393 CE. They ended because of warmongering by the Roman Empire. Around the same time another empire — that of the Maya — had just entered its so-called Classic Period. Around 600 years of inter-tribal warmongering would follow and contribute to their eventual decline.
The decline of peoples is only one price of warmongering. Wars, like Olympics, are financially expensive. In fact, in 1916, 1940, and 1944 it was too expensive to have both; in 1980 and 1984 the so-called Cold War was the reason for mass boycotts. The devastation of lives and livelihoods has an immeasurable price tag. And the price of trying to end wars can be high. We see this today in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
One thing is certain: as long as there will be Olympic Games there will also be synchronized warmongering.