1 September 2017 was the 78th anniversary of the beginning of World War II; I went to the movies to see Dunkirk. I have thought, read and written about war for many years, particularly nuclear war (I am against war). Also, I have thought about the existential problem faced by Palestine, and other oppressed societies disadvantaged by an imbalance of power. And, finally, I have also been thinking about the many recent internet postings about the Antifa (antifascist) confrontational protest groups and some of their forceful tactics. All this led me to a summary of general principles about war, which follows.
Why Does War Exist?
War exists because aggressors, exploiters and oppressors, who have the advantage given an imbalance of power, will see no restraint to acting as they please; and their disadvantaged victims will find force to be their most effective defense.
Aggressive war exists because aggressors and oppressors, who rely on the imbalance of power to achieve their aims, find force to be the most expedient tactic against the weak.
The purpose of aggressive war is to forcefully take property, treasure, natural resources, sex and slaves from societies that are relatively weak, as well as gaining domination over them.
Defensive war exists because force is the only effective counter against aggressors and oppressors, who rely on the imbalance of power to forcefully pursue their aims.
The purpose of defensive war is to resist aggression and oppression, and to preserve or gain independence, freedom, social cohesion and territorial integrity that are under assault.
The necessary conditions for the elimination of war are:
(1) a balance of power; and,
(2) the absence of oppression.
Number 1 removes the incentive for aggressive war, and Number 2 removes the necessity of defensive war.
Given conditions 1 and 2, disputes between societies and nation-states would be resolved by negotiations, a process that eliminates all the waste, pain and destruction intrinsic to wars. Also, negotiated settlements under these conditions would be equitable.
Establishing conditions 1 and 2 as permanent and universal conditions of human society is an immeasurably difficult problem, and perhaps an impossibility.
Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Saint-Veran (28 February 1712 – 14 September 1759) was a French soldier best known as the commander of the forces in North America during the Seven Years’ War (whose North American theatre is called the French and Indian War in the United States). Montcalm died on 14 September 1759 from a British musket shot to his back below his ribs, received the day before at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which is also known as the Battle of Quebec. My photo of Montcalm’s skull (on display at a museum) was taken in the city of Quebec on 2 September 1976.
This article now also appears (without the photograph) at:
Why Does War Exist?
4 September 2017