Is war obsolete
International relations 101 (#65): is war obsolete?
Few cared or noticed the death of a much more important figure in our country’s past than Michael Jackson this week. Robert McNamara, who served as Secretary of Defense under both Kennedy and Johnson and was a key architect of the Vietnam War, died at the age of 93. Despite the fact that he had long accepted the war was a failure and a mistake, McNamara was able to live to be a senior citizen – a path denied to the 60,000 or so American soldiers killed or missing in action (not to mention the 3 million or so Vietnamese estimated to have died in relation to the conflict).
During World War II, McNamara was also active in the firebombing of Japanese cities, and his death highlights the career of a man who personified a generation immersed in war – whether they liked it or not. It also raises the question of whether those large-scale wars of the twentieth century are a thing of the past, if not obsolete.
It’s an intriguing question that has been posed by the Dalai Lama and others in recent years. With a global economy and so many nations interdependent, the apparently inevitable inclination to strike one another would be seen as obsolete and impractical, if not outright dumb.
The american civil war: obsolete myths and real questions
American troops have fought in several conflicts both at home and abroad. These wars were fought for a number of causes, including the desire to be free of colonial rule and the extension of national borders.
In 1812, the United States declared war on the United Kingdom. Attempts by the Americans to invade Canada during the campaigns of 1812-1813 were unsuccessful. The British erected a blockade along the American coast. The Treaty of Ghent, which was the old Belgium, ended the war in 1814 after several wars. Major General Andrew Jackson, also known as “Old Hickory,” captured the battle of New Orleans a few weeks later. Both sides came out empty-handed at the end of the war.
Mexico declined to consider Texas’ annexation. Mexicans struck US troops in 1846, causing Congress to declare war on Mexico. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, concluded in 1848, ended the Mexican-American War. California, Utah, Nevada, as well as portions of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Wyoming, were all ceded to Mexico.
11 southern states, known as the Confederacy, and 11 northern states, known as the United states, participated in the American Civil War. The southern states proclaimed secession from the Union because President Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party opposed the expansion of slavery. This battle was the worst in the history of the United States. The Union triumphed, the Confederate forces surrendered in 1865, and slavery was abolished.
Is it true that the planet is becoming more peaceful? The last few decades have been noticeably more stable than normal. Several people claim that this phase of peace is more than a one-time event, and that it reflects a long-term reduction in conflict over the past two centuries. If this is the case, we should fairly expect the recent cycle of stability to continue, and wars to become even less frequent and deadly. Unfortunately, these arguments, at least in terms of interstate war, seem to exaggerate the available proof. While the last few decades have been more stable than normal, this peaceful phase could easily be explained by chance, according to a reexamination of the available data on combat deaths in interstate war.
There has been much discussion over the last decade about whether there is a long-term decline in war and armed conflict. A number of academics have concluded that the number of people killed in wars has decreased since World War II. When comparing fighting casualties over time, it seems that the last few decades have been less violent than the Cold War’s early years. When combat losses are expressed as a percentage of the total population, the pattern becomes even more apparent.
Steve brant: is war scientifically obsolete (incl panel
The papers on Aikido in this issue indicate at least one way for people to protect themselves without killing their enemies. Gene Sharp, a Harvard political strategist, wonders why nations can’t do the same in this interview.
Sharp says that while we all want peace, we can’t wait for a mass conversion to pacifism to save us. There will always be disputes between cultures, necessitating the development of a strong defense. However, we have the ability to alter how we defend ourselves, potentially rendering war obsolete.
He believes that a nation’s strongest security is a well-organized community that recognizes psychological resistance. It’s definitely a better bet than nuclear weapons, which by their very nature guarantee our demise. Civilian-based defense, as he calls it, places society’s defense in the hands of its citizens; it’s also nonviolent, and, he maintains, it works.
Sharp is the director of Harvard University’s newly developed Program on Nonviolent Sanctions. He was a historian and philosopher who spent nine months in prison for refusing to serve in the military. He collaborated with anti-war protester A.J. Muste in the early 1950s. He is the author of a number of books, including a well-received study of Gandhi as a political strategist. Valerie Andrews’ interview first appeared in The Tarrytown Letter, a publication of The Tarrytown Community.