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by ZweiBieren Why War? pens in a mug

Forty years ago, Susan and I closed down Jasper Hot Springs in Northern Alberta. We drove down the eleven mile cul de sac, swam in the pool and were the last to leave when it was closed due to lightning. During the night the rains came. Three days of relentless deluge. Washed out the road in six places. Dumped an entire hillside into the pool we had so recently quitted. We had to wait another three days before the road crews could make a temporary roadway to get us out; in a long convoy.

The first morning after the storm was beautiful sun and warm breezes. We ventured forth to view the park and the pool. Most curious was the noise of little animals, ground squirrels and the like. Not only was each and every burrow caved in, but the very ground on which it had stood was now elsewhere. The animals were busily and loudly contentding over the now availableterritory, each seeking to stake out a claim to promising new ground. We did not check, but I doubt that all succeeded.

Animals squablle all the time over various desirable commodities, especially food and mates. At times the northern woods ring with the clamor of male elk bashing horns to be worthy of a nearby doe. These battles usually fall short of death, though occasionally two racks entangle so tightly that the owners cannot disengage and eventually starve.

For much of my life I have believed that human battles and wars are similarly based on access to resources of one form or another: farmland for food, energy for running machinery, space for housing, access to the sea and other transport routes. In making notes for this section however, I came to question this assumption. Now I'm not sure why there are wars. What do the leaders, despots, juntas, and so forth hope to accomplish by committing their resources to battle and condemning their young to prematures deaths. (Notably, the leaders etc. seldom die themselves.)

Lets look at some cases.

The Crusades

The Crusades began with the onset of the second millenium. Ostensibly they were aimed at attaining access for pilgrims to the religious sites in the Holy Land. Trying to think as a King or Emperor of the time, I find this not a compelling argument. It is expensive to wage a foreign battle; why would I do so to placate pilgrims, most of whom have little political power. Perhaps I would try to ensure that trade routes were open. For millenia the Holy Lands being situated at the end of the Mediterranean were an important intersection of trade routes to the East, South, North, West and points between. Another factor that might have moved me is the increasing power and attraction of private armies or militaristic groups. Time were good and there was sufficient liesure to allow you0ng men to play at swords and horses. By initiating crusades, I could channel these youths away from my domains to a place wehre there depredations would not harm my mroe mature citizens. Sending the yojung away is also a population control measure if resources are scarce. (So which argument do I want? Was it a time of plenty or were there population pressures. Perhaps both; times of plenty can encourage the birth rate.)

Amerian Revolution

Americans are taught in school that their revolution was a fight for "freedom" and against "taxation without representation." Myself a product of this education, I have a hard time iomagining any other cause for the war. The British misjudged the Colonists antagonism and abilities. They tried to fight with strtategies suitable for the mostly-flat terrain of Europe while the American's took advantage of the actual nature of their thome terrain. As a small island kingdom, England was surely hopeful of retaining control of America's vast resources.

American Civil War

Usually the Civil War is depicted as an attempt by the North to dismantle the institution of slavery. And this was in fact the outcome. But if the South had not seceded, it seems possible that slavey would have continued on into the twentieth century. As the 2013 movie "Lincoln" showed, the fight for an anti-slavery constitutional amendment was not an easy one, involving as it did considerable payoffs to congressmen.

It seems to me that the main impetus for secession was for wealthy Southerners to retain that wealth and power. They were willin g tocondemn to death thousands of poorer Southerners to retain that wealth. So effective was their evocation of "The South" that some of the Southern poor still feel that it was the North that wronged them. (And indeed, some of the carpet-baggers sent to run the South were ill-behaved enough to perpetuate that belief.)

World War I

From before the Crusades until the middle of the nineteenth century, wars raged across Europe. Border lines were sometimes rearranged, taxes were redirected, religious allegiances sometimes changed, different groups oppressed, but all-in-all, not much seems to have been accomplished. For various reasons a long peace was attained in the second half of the century. Unfortunately, military bureaucracies continued to function (and increase exponentially as per one of Parkinson's laws). They continued to make plans for fighting the wars that had been settled, without taking into account the vast changes in communication and transport. One German plan called for a swift settlement in the west followed by sending the troops to the eastern front where it was expected Russian troops would have less hastily deployed.

Competing alliances were formed and were sufficient to deter actions by the major players. A local group in Sarejevo seeking to attain local goals assassinated Archduke Ferdinand ignited the first World War. That war was settled imprudently, imposing conditions on Germany that led to the second World War. It seems, then, that the first world war resulted from ill-contained bureaucracy and the second from a failure to judge the effects of sanctions.




A family with two or more children sees constant battle between the for a limited quantity: time of parents. And yet when the family faces a threat those same children are an inseparable whole withthe family against the outsider. Neighbors squabble until the neighborhood is threatened. And so it goes up the hierarchy of institutions. When we reach nations, the squabbles can be war.

trade routes
economic system
continued existence
survival of children and grand ...

us rev
us civil
french revolution
gangs in a city

US has been war-free becuase of resource=plenty
as resoiurces are depleted, this mayu change\It wopuld be prudent now to avoid future woes by agreeing how to share the lacks when comes the time.

China even fewer wwars: a mostly Han population

US civil war
south feared loss of its economic basis, slavery
(may have been exacerabted by fear that they were wrong
the elites were fabulously wealthy
agriculture seems to be exploitative.
unskilled labor feeds the world

conflicting alliances
fear of loss of existence

loss of population and rise of innovation made Europe peaceful; finally conquered by Belgium

but economic forces are tearing at the seams
people unwilling to do the jobs needed and unwilling to accept the influx and immigrants that are willin g to do those jobs

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