Let’s declare from the beginning: war is not inevitable. Switzerland and Sweden with their centuries of peace attest to that. Neither is it an organized faculty residing in our human nature. Instead, there exists latent propensities for readiness to defend our home/territory; or, to conquer and grab if the occasion is perceived appropriated — all embedded in our nature, which under certain circumstances are activated by leaders who usually imbued on glory and/or power, along with the profiteers in the war industry who in an unholy alliance with the military establishment (e.g., the industrial military complex prophesied by Eisenhower) — triggers, maintains and perpetuates the war activity, or conversely, war breaks out outright from looming threats from neighboring tribes.
It is important, also, to state that often war can go on-and-on-and-on long after the initial rationale for starting it is forgotten or no longer relevant. The Vietnam war lasted almost 25 years with four different, changed rationales as about why it had to continue. (1.) to help a colonial power (France) in exchange for their friendship to maintain their holdings of the enslaved territories, to be replaced with the (2.) the invented so called “Domino Theory,” i.e., as Vietnam goes so goes South Asia (3.) then the equally inane “Vietnamization,” and finally (4.) peace with dignity, as the final rationale, declaring that the leadership will not be the first one to lose a war by America.
Similarly, a fraudulent, inane war with Iraq and Afghanistan. We could easily have killed the 200 responsible for the 9/11 tragedy -these wars are still going on now, well into the second decade again for no discernible reason except stopping the so-called ISIS with no end in sight.
These follies happened before many times with different countries. The British empire had four wars in Afghanistan in the middle of 19th century — all catastrophic. In their foolishness, they called them the Grand Game! The Peloponisian war of several decades destroyed the miracle of golden age of Greece. Individuals of the tribe mobilized for war coalesce into the organized gruesome activities.
It is important to state that, in the process of its expression in an organized activity, it recruits and involves not only direct aggression, hatred, and delusions for demonizing the adversary, but, concomitantly, along with an exhilarating feeling, there is a readiness to display altruism, self-sacrifice, along with a a heightening cohesiveness among the members of the tribe now, at war. In addition, individuals themselves, during the war activities, shed individual preoccupations, resentments, depressions, or boredom. For instance, during the Blitzkrieg in London, depressions and suicides were unheard of. While communal generosity between it’s members went sky high, along with exhilarating spirit with the invariable occurrence of heightening tenacity and determination to prevail or dying to the very end. The latter phenomena, ironically, are exactly the opposite of the enemy’s expectations that with the heightening of brutal measures, towards their adversary, their spirit will break.
Apologists for war state time and again erroneously say that innovation and advances in science are the benefits of war activities. While indeed war may bring some advances, during peaceful times nations involved in mutually benefit in trade far out-weight those during the war . They produce very many advances. For instance, while the internet was initially a military innovation, the followed revolutions in biological sciences, communications, and devices in harnessing renewable energy and — especially — phenomenal agricultural productivity have all exploded during the last 70 relative peaceful years following the second World War.
Like other compelling but now obsolete traits in human nature, war besides bringing untold suffering may be the most important threat for possible extinction for human species. “We break the habit of war or war will break us,” as President John F. Kennedy aptly stated.
War draws from and is augmented by other tribal traits of human nature like ideology, individual and tribal identity, desire to dominate and exercise rapacity. More often than not, promoted abetted and guided by the “leader/leaders ” who usually know intuitively that such a readiness of these human traits exists and are easily triggered.
“Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, in England, nor in America, nor for that matter Germany. That is understood. But people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifist for a lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.” Herman Goering stated this before breaking the cyanide capsule he was hiding in his mouth.. This statement, correct indeed, was said by one of the main criminal geniuses of Nazi Germany.
The war making eagerness and capacity of human species once expressed, spreads suffering, destruction, and havoc and yet it creates an intoxicating senses of glory, heroism, and readiness for self sacrifice. For instance, routinely our fallen soldiers in Iraq are routinely called “fallen heroes” — and many of them were involved indeed in heroic acts — instead of been called the victims of the leaders’ foolish decisions; leaders who in fact neglect them afterwards .
Fortunately during the last few decades, with its phenomenal explosion in shared trade and similar communications and technical advance — as well relative transparency of the leaders intentions — war is becoming a possible world war catastrophic phenomenon more and more, especially in the presence of now-ubiquitous atomic weapons. In effect, empires increasingly are unable to exercise their empire bullying in the presence of similar empires besides small local proxy wars here and there.