Although the term Orwellian can be applied in many disciplines, its political usage refers to how an autocratic nation governs or how a few nations conduct warfare with each other. In 1984, Orwell depicts a powerful dictatorship that relies on propaganda. Moreover, Oceania, the nation that is the primary setting of 1984, participates in long-standing conflicts with other nations. However, the motives for these conflicts vary greatly. Typically, a long-standing military conflict that lacks violence is caused by the desire to maintain or spread an ideology. This idea is relevant to the international relations that are present in 1984 and the war between Saudi Arabia and Iran because these conflicts have these characteristics.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are currently political adversaries, and these nations exhibited acts of retribution towards each other. Their governmental structure vest much of their power in one leader. This is similar to the government of Oceania in 1984 because one or a few people control Oceania. These nations recruit aid from foreign governments in the Middle East and around the world. Non-governmental forces also supply support to these countries. Retribution refers to light warfare or sanctions against one and other.
Although the war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a conflict that involves many countries, it is not a traditional war. These countries fight smaller wars or battles infrequently, but a lack of cooperation is always involved in military tension. . Moreover, this conflict also lasts for a much longer time than a standard war. The Saudi Arabia-Iran military tensions, as well as the conflicts between Oceania and its competing countries, have two commonalities: underlying motives and the frequently changing alliances with other nations. However, Oceania and its rival nations seek to spread their ideology through conquest, whereas Saudi Arabia and Iran seek dominance over international trade and usage of Islam in government.
One of the reasons why there is a military tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran is because of differences in how Islam is commonly practiced. One of the things that was a point of political and military contentiousness was the Muslim faith in political and extremist governance in the 20th century Middle East, as stated by Gawdat Bahgat in Arab Studies Quarterly (Bahgat 53, jstor.org). This is reflected in Saudi Arabia and Iran’s relationship, since they have governments that emphasize the role of Islam and politics. Saudi Arabia and Iran also play roles in smaller religious conflicts n the Middle East. The intermittent tension that these countries have about Islamic relations illustrate the concept of military tension, because these battles do not have much of an effect on human life in these regions when compared with larger-scale wars. Moreover, this war’s lengthiness and lack of impact show how the tension between these two countries are in a state of negative peace as opposed to a typical war.
Like the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the tension between Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia is spurred by the desire to spread an ideology. Oceania and its rival nations have strict political ideologies. However, the desire that is the underlying cause of the tension between the nations in 1984 is for a nation’s slight increase in power through conquest. In Goldstein’s work on how societies currently operated, “a war for labor power” in certain parts of the world is present worldwide (Orwell 187). This illustrates how the motive for the military tension between Oceania and other nations is for a slight increase of power because one of the aims of conquest was to spread their political ideology by controlling a part of the world. One of the ways that Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia controlled their citizens was by limiting the resources that most citizens could have. Therefore, the economic motivation for small-scale conquests between the three nations in 1984 reflects how this military conflict is spurred by a desire to gain power.
The alliances between Oceania and one of the two other nations change frequently in 1984 as they engage in conflict with Eurasia or Eastasia. Oceania forges a relationship with the nation that it is not warring against. The presence of “the alliance with Eastasia” and Oceania in international relations in 1984 shows how Oceania forges ties in its constant state of conflict (Orwell 182). This alliance is similar to those that are formed in the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran because these countries recruit and receive aid from other nations.
Saudi Arabia and Iran also form alliances with extremist groups and foreign powers to become more dominant in the military tension between each other. According to David E. Long in the Mediterranean Quarterly, one of the things that “US-Saudi relations” are characterized by is their trade relationship, which often leads to tension (Long 30, eds.a.ebscohost.com.proxy-gsu.psao.galileo.usg.edu). This volatile political relationship shows how the United States and Saudi Arabia have an unstable alliance because the U.S. would turn against Saudi Arabia if their actions do not aid them economically. Although this is not the only reason that drives the alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia in the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, economic development is an important motivation for this alliance. The wealth that a country has influences their ability to affect global and regional politics.
This fluctuating relationship is similar to the changing alliances between Oceania and the other nations in 1984 because their relations always change. In 1984, the Oceanian military might side with Eurasian forces for a few years, and then, Eurasia would become their enemy. The conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran mirrors the oscillating conflicts between Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia in George Orwell’s novel 1984. In 1984, constant tensions that switched between Oceania and Eurasia or Eastasia occurred over a longer period of time.
In 1984, the key component of international relations was that “war. . . ceases to be dangerous” (Orwell 198). This reflected the Orwellian concept of a negative peace because it involved constant tension between two or more nations and/or factions without the violence that is associated with war. One of the only means that Oceania used to communicate with Eurasia and Eastasia was through consistent warfare.
War, in an Orwellian sense, does not refer to a violent and/or short-lived war. Rather, Orwell’s concept of war consists of less violent military and political tensions that are motivated by the desire to spread a political ideology or increase a country’s economic standing as a world power. Another key component of military tension in an Orwellian sense is the formation of alliances during these conflicts. These facets of war are present in the conflict between Oceania and the other two nations in 1984 and in the Saudi-Iran conflict. Therefore, the idea of a long-standing proxy war is Orwellian because it represents a phenomenon in international relations in 1984 as well as in current global politics.
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