Just a thought: killing in the name of?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Do you sometimes question the validity of war in the modern age, particularly between equal powers but either way, for example Germany and allies vs England and allies? The antagonists lost. Vietnam vs the US, let's face it the US achieved none of it's objectives; Afghanistan? Who's winning there, did we not learn from the Russians attempts? Iraq, is it any longer possible to win?

Now look at all antagonistic wars in the West from 1900 to present, did they really achieve any goal? Analyse them, who benefited, and who won?

Now in history war was something that if you won, you gained something out of it, be it trade, land,technological advance, now you get nothing? But there was currency there in the past; what now? What wars achieve this? Each time you see one now it seems more often than not it's senseless slaughter, justified for some political gain that never quite pans out?

So the real question is: in modern war, is war becoming obsolete? And is there any more a reason to fight war other than on the defence?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Gokul43201
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In US v Taliban, who are the antagonists?
 
  • #3
verty
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War will be obsolete when greed becomes obsolete.
 
  • #4
In US v Taliban, who are the antagonists?
Good question, but then who set them up in the first place, who supplied them with weapons, who gave them their motivation?

War will be obsolete when greed becomes obsolete.
Ah but if the greedy get nothing out of war? And can you show where they have in modern times? They seem to be shooting themselves in the foot...
 
  • #5
Ivan Seeking
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Now in history war was something that if you won, you gained something out of it, be it trade, land,technological advance, now you get nothing?
What about the U.S. Southern border war? I would say that the Mexicans are acquiring land, not to mention benefits meant for U.S. citizens, by default, through an illegal occupation, if not formally. However, there is also a formal movement to reclaim U.S. land once claimed by Mexico. Violent clashes between police or border agents, and Mexican drug/illegal immigrant runners, are common. Vigilante groups have formed to protect the homeland, and for many people who live along the border, a state of war exists. Also, many people argue that the Mexican Government is complicit in all of this, and Mexican police are famous for their involvement.

I think we might be seeing the next generation of border disputes but it is hard to say how this will be resolved. I can easily see this problem escalating as many Americans [including me] are outraged by the size of the uncontrolled influx.
 
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  • #6
What about the U.S. Southern border war? I would say that the Mexicans are acquiring land, not to mention benefits meant for U.S. citizens, by default, through an illegal occupation, if not formally. However, there is also a formal movement to reacquire lands once claimed by Mexico. Violent clashes between police or border agents, and Mexican drug/illegal immigrant runners, are common. Vigilante groups have formed to protect the homeland, and for many people who live along the border, a state of war exists. Also, many people argue that the Mexican Government is complicit in all of this, and Mexican police are famous for their involvement.

I think we might be seeing the next generation of border disputes but it is hard to say how this will be resolved. I can easily see this problem escalating as many Americans [including me] are outraged by the size of the uncontrolled influx.
OK let's define war in a particular way, so as to stop inconvenient answers that mean nothing,and avoid the issue, and detract from the OP; you start Ivan, what do you determine war is considering the OP?
 
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  • #7
Futobingoro
Schrodinger's Dog said:
Now in history war was something that if you won, you gained something out of it, be it trade, land,technological advance, now you get nothing?
Why is that a bad thing? Take, for instance, a war where the victor rebuilds the defeated nation by installing a democratic government, rebuilding infrastructure, etc. Though the victor has the privilege of dictating favorable terms (military bases and the like), these will probably not offset the expense in lives and resources, and they are a far cry from the aforementioned historical plundering and pillaging.

The United States achieved a military victory over the Japanese Empire in WW2, but the US reaped few benefits from the victory itself. Most gains came later and were/are economic or political in nature.

There are also wars where the combatants fail to realize gains due to "pointless slaughter" or unclear/unreached objectives, but this type of war is only one type of "gain-less war." As noted above, a war where the victors gain nothing isn't necessarily pointless.
 
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  • #8
Why is that a bad thing? Take, for instance, a war where the victor rebuilds the defeated nation by installing a democratic government, rebuilding infrastructure, etc. Though the victor has the privilege of dictating favorable terms (military bases and the like), these will probably not offset the expense in lives and resources, and they are a far cry from the aforementioned historical plundering and pillaging.

The United States achieved a military victory over the Japanese Empire in WW2, but the US reaped few benefits from the victory itself. Most gains came later and were/are economic or political in nature.

There are also wars where the combatants realize no gains due to "pointless slaughter" or unclear/unreached objectives, but this type of war is only one type of "gain-less war." As noted above, a war with no gains isn't necessarily pointless.
Kind of missed the point, I did say war on the defensive?

Gains my ass? Any antagonist in any war since 1900 has gained nothing but defeat or stalemate, and a humiliating one at that, that lead nowhere. Now you try and gain by war against a "neighbour" all that happens is the neighbour gets more out of it than you in the vast majority of cases, at least if we consider the war objectives, and later, what could be achieved by war, could have been achieved peacefully anyway:rolleyes: .

I'll rephrase the question, who gains by antagonism? And who has in the West since 19 dickety 2. Anyone?
 
  • #9
Gokul43201
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Good question, but then who set them up in the first place, who supplied them with weapons, who gave them their motivation?
Where exactly is the antagonism towards the Taliban in helping set them up, in bankrolling them and in supplying them with weapons and intelligence? I'd call that outright friendliness and support, not antagonism.
 
  • #10
Ivan Seeking
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OK let's define war in a particular way, so as to stop inconvenient answers that mean nothing,and avoid the issue, and detract from the OP; you start Ivan, what do you determine war is considering the OP?
So the real question is: in modern war, is war becoming obsolete? And is there any more a reason to fight war other than on the defence?
I think I already answered those questions. Yes, when the people living five miles to the north have an average income that is one-hundred times what yours is, there is a reason for war. I think what I described along the US border might be a modern war, and that it has the potential to degenerate into a classic war.
 
  • #11
Ivan Seeking
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I think the only reason that you don't understand my point is that you don't understand the magnitude of the problem.
 
  • #12
Futobingoro
Perhaps globalization creates a condition in which a nation no longer needs to go to war to realize economic gain. What is cheap labor in third-world countries if not "peaceful collaboration?" If a power can peacefully capitalize on another nation's resources, why go through the trouble to invade? It's only when a government "gets in the way" of foreign businesses that a war for economic reasons occurs.

Perhaps we should determine which wars of the 20th-21st centuries actually were/are economic wars.
 
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  • #13
russ_watters
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SD, In "Vietnam vs the US", who exactly were the combatants and who were pro and antagonists?
Gains my ass? Any antagonist in any war since 1900 has gained nothing but defeat or stalemate, and a humiliating one at that, that lead nowhere.
How do the different sides of the 1967 war in the Middle-East fall in there?

In many modern examples, when the "wrong" side is winning, the rest of the world tends to come to the aid of the "right" side. In Korea, the war was just north vs south until the US (under the UN) came in. In the 1st Gulf War, the war between Kuwait and Iraq was essentially over before the world (under the UN) came in. That is the primary reason why the aggressors didn't succeed in those wars.

So how does that mesh with your examples of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Gulf II?

BTW, was anything accomplished by the US eta al in Afghanistan or Iraq? and if so, could these successes be reversed? Can those countries go back to status quo anti?

In a general sense, I would agree that war for material gain has largely become obsolete. I've heard Hussein's invasion/annexing of Kuwait referred to as "armed-robbery writ large", which makes the US the policeman who stopped them. WWII was pretty similar. The origins of the Vietnam war are pretty complex, but when the US entered, it was relatively straightforward. There were two combatants: the North and the South, with the North invading the South. Exactly like in Korea. We picked up a ball dropped by France - clearly a mistake. But France wasn't the aggressor either: it was their colony.

The parallels between Korea and Vietnam are pretty tight: Japanese occupation, liberation after WWII, partition by the UN, a communist North supported by China and the USSR invading a west-supported South.

But not all examples are quite so straightforward. In many examples you seem to like, it is clear that the clear international consensus against the side you don't like (in the form of an alliance or UN-flagged military force) does not exist. Lets just cut the crap - the inuendo and dancing around you are doing is pointless: you are calling the US the antagonist/aggressor in these examples of yours. But these situations are quite clearly not analagous to other examples in this century. If you want to argue that they are, you need to make the argument. Argument-by-inuendo is not acceptable.
 
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  • #14
devil-fire
i think even without weapons of mass destruction, the iraq regime had the power to be vary disruptive to the stability of the middle east, and as a consequence, to the prices of the resources in that region. even if this new iraqi government isn't able to stand on its own two feet, it will be a long time before entities in iraq are able to invade kuwait for example. in that regard, the interests of the western aggressors are served fairly well. unfortunately for these western interests, the costs of this stability have grown to huge amounts because of constant mismanagement by occupying forces.

this also applies to the war in afghanistan. the taliban's ability to influence global events was greatly diminished when they were attacked in afghanistan but unfortunately for western interests, the taliban was not defeated and now is gaining more power from anti-western sentiment in the area. if the taliban were pursued to defeat, osama bin-laden brought to trial for war crimes and thrown in prison for the rest of his existence, there would be vary little chance of another 9/11. however, this has not been the case due partly to a lack of conviction to end the taliban threat, and partly to the difficult political situation in the region


i think there is opportunity for aggressors of war is there clearly there but in recent examples this opportunity was wasted partly through mismanagement
 
  • #15
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Now that is wishful thinking, if you could behead the monster, it would die. Unlikely--more like Hercules and Hydra which is why this current war on both fronts is both pointless and counterproductive. But and you may call me an Orwellian conspiracy nut, is exwctly why we are engaged. It was a sucker punch, and even more of a sucker response to respond the way we did, in either country, but esp Iraq. Frankly I think we were outplayed from the beginning and continue to be. We've spent god only knows how much--I'm thinking well over a trillion on the war fronts alone, and a hefty sum via Patriot act costs. Are we any safer? No one reasonable I know believes so. Are we winning either war, not exactly. So what is the agenda?

We have been lied to thrice, once on acct of 911, secondly in the name of global security/WMD, and finally for the cause of democracy. When will the real reason be revealed? The US gvt as most has the habit of lieing to its citizens about agendae. You'd think we know better, by now. By jove, any historian could have prediced the outcome, brits esp having lost back in 1920 something. These are the folks who invented zero, iirc. Try science w/o that.
 
  • #16
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Why has no one said the most glaring answer to SD question?

Wars today are faught for one reason, and one reason only. MONEY.

Case in point, Iraq. The president just gave another 2 billion for a mere two more years occupation in Iraq. Where does that money go? The defense contractors, Lockheed, Boeing, Halliburton. Billions go unaccounted for. Money is literally flowing and people are not keeping track of it.

Do you honestly think these defense people would get this money if there were no war? We have a military industrial complex. We have so much of our economy based on war, what do you expect is going to happen? We go to war, duh.

Now in history war was something that if you won, you gained something out of it, be it trade, land,technological advance, now you get nothing?
Because there is simply no need to steal national treasuries, like gold for instance. The US dollar has its value because of our military might. You think other countries would use the dollar if we were not so powerful when we have no gold to back it?

If you hold the power, you control the game and the rules by which its played.
 
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  • #17
If you go back through the history books, you will find both world wars, every major war in the middle east, soviet bloc countries, west africa, south america over the last 100 years have been fought primarily over the same thing. Perhaps the war in darfur is fought for the same cause? rwanda, uganda, congo, columbia, and all across the global.

consider also, as has been mentioned, the defense contracts various governments award. I know the US spends over $500 billion. That is a lot of money.

Consider that you would not want to pay $500 billion for a static army.
 
  • #18
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Course its about $$. What I believe might seperate these wars vs others: we are currently outspending practically the rest of the world on military expenditures per annum. I suppose the belief is we will be unstoppable, Have mach 10 jets circling the globe, a base everywhere it counts, small nukes, and hell knows what else. Preempt wherever we choose. For what, to keep gas at a unrealistic cost? I know its the end game re resources and those that want to survive need be bold. I wtch and wonder whether we have the collective smarts to survive amidst the squabbling, Gas ought to be 5 bucks a gallon.
 
  • #19
Garth
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Gas ought to be 5 bucks a gallon.
Over here in the UK it is nearly ten - in a recent price rise I have paid over £1 sterling alitre for BP Ultimate diesel - but then I do get 50-60 miles per (UK) gallon.

Garth
 
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  • #20
Gokul43201
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i think even without weapons of mass destruction, the iraq regime had the power to be vary disruptive to the stability of the middle east, and as a consequence, to the prices of the resources in that region.
If you think the capability to be a destabilizing influence on politics and prices is alone reason enough to have hundreds of thousands of people die as a result of war, you are among the tiny few that the administration didn't have in mind when it was making its case for the war. But that's a different discussion.

if the taliban were pursued to defeat, osama bin-laden brought to trial for war crimes and thrown in prison for the rest of his existence, there would be vary little chance of another 9/11. however, this has not been the case due partly to a lack of conviction to end the taliban threat, and partly to the difficult political situation in the region
...to say nothing of finding that you (the present administration) are the deer caught in the headlights, unable to decide which way to dive.

Not only is the US getting somewhat disinterested in quelling the al Qaeda threat in Afghanistan, they're actually bankrolling Sunni jihadist groups in Lebanon that have strong ties to al Qaeda. Why? Because their "current" cause of concern has shifted from the Sunni sympathetic al Qaeda to the Shiite groups like Hezbollah, that are a powerful political arm of the Syrians and Iranians. The Sunnis (al Qaeda, Taliban, Saddam) no longer make a good coup du jour.

http://www.newyorker.com/printables/fact/070305fa_fact_hersh [Broken]
 
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  • #21
SD, In "Vietnam vs the US", who exactly were the combatants and who were pro and antagonists? How do the different sides of the 1967 war in the Middle-East fall in there?

In many modern examples, when the "wrong" side is winning, the rest of the world tends to come to the aid of the "right" side. In Korea, the war was just north vs south until the US (under the UN) came in. In the 1st Gulf War, the war between Kuwait and Iraq was essentially over before the world (under the UN) came in. That is the primary reason why the aggressors didn't succeed in those wars.

So how does that mesh with your examples of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Gulf II?

BTW, was anything accomplished by the US eta al in Afghanistan or Iraq? and if so, could these successes be reversed? Can those countries go back to status quo anti?

In a general sense, I would agree that war for material gain has largely become obsolete. I've heard Hussein's invasion/annexing of Kuwait referred to as "armed-robbery writ large", which makes the US the policeman who stopped them. WWII was pretty similar. The origins of the Vietnam war are pretty complex, but when the US entered, it was relatively straightforward. There were two combatants: the North and the South, with the North invading the South. Exactly like in Korea. We picked up a ball dropped by France - clearly a mistake. But France wasn't the aggressor either: it was their colony.

The parallels between Korea and Vietnam are pretty tight: Japanese occupation, liberation after WWII, partition by the UN, a communist North supported by China and the USSR invading a west-supported South.

But not all examples are quite so straightforward. In many examples you seem to like, it is clear that the clear international consensus against the side you don't like (in the form of an alliance or UN-flagged military force) does not exist. Lets just cut the crap - the inuendo and dancing around you are doing is pointless: you are calling the US the antagonist/aggressor in these examples of yours. But these situations are quite clearly not analagous to other examples in this century. If you want to argue that they are, you need to make the argument. Argument-by-inuendo is not acceptable.
US foreign policy is by it's nature since the 20th century, is belligerent and antagonistic not so much pre WWII but particularly recently, and it seldom works at least since post 1945 anyway. But that's an aside, your incompetence/competence in foreign theatres is a discussion for another thread.

I'm talking specifically about any antagonisitc nation, be it Germany, England, France, Canada, or whatever, and I'm talking about either a declaration of war or an war involving armies be they guerillas insurgents or armed terrorists or whatever the currently applied buzz word is obviously, so I'm sorry if you want to use your example fine, but it's nowhere close to what I meant.

Actually in those examples I'd consider the US to be the antagonist, as Vietnam was a civil war so it's kind of unavoidable, your an ally and an antagonist.

In Afghanistan the US is clearly the antagonist, In Iraq the US is clearly the antagonist.

A bit touchy aren't we anyway, this question wasn't directed at the US but any invading nation; mind you the amount of flak the US takes these days I can understand your reaction, the world doesn't revolve around US foreign policy though, just in case you thought it did:tongue2: :biggrin:?

Where exactly is the antagonism towards the Taliban in helping set them up, in bankrolling them and in supplying them with weapons and intelligence? I'd call that outright friendliness and support, not antagonism.
I think you missed the point, what I meant was you can give troops support and money and enable them to overthrow "evil" opressors, but don't expect them to conceed that now you are invading a country they fought and won for, just because you gave them the years of experience weaponry and tactics they are going to sit peacefully by while you invade their homeland.

And don't forget Russia was there by request of the Afghan government orginally to secure Khabul from insurgents in a civil war, Russias version of Vietnam I suppose.
 
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  • #22
Gokul43201
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I think you missed the point, what I meant was you can give troops support and money and enable them to overthrow "evil" opressors, but don't expect them to conceed that now you are invading a country they fought and won for, just because you gave them the years of experience weaponry and tactics they are going to sit peacefully by while you invade their homeland.
I'm not sure I understand this sentence...but, the Taliban had a choice. They simply had to give up their support for a terrorist group that "invaded the US homeland", and there would have been no invasion. By refusing to do so, and by supporting the people that attacked the US, they overtly took on the role of antagonists.

Until shortly after 9/11, US taxpayers were sending hundreds of millions of dollars to support the Taliban government. The Taliban took the first step of antagonism.
 
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  • #23
I'm not sure I understand this sentence...but, the Taliban had a choice. They simply had to give up their support for a terrorist group that "invaded the US homeland", and there would have been no invasion. By refusing to do so, and by supporting the people that attacked the US, they took on the role of antagonists.

Until shortly after 9/11, US taxpayers were sending hundreds of millions of dollars to support the Taliban government. The Taliban took the first step of antagonism.
However you want to portray the politics, it still remains that the UK Canada and US are the antagonists, will this war turn out like other antagonistic wars or not is what is at question.

I really didn't mean to have a go at the US specifically here, it's intended target is war for profit and how there no longer is such a thing, at least if we take the last 100 years as any example, although granted the US did do rather well in WWII, but then it wasn't the antagonist.

If we do a figure by figure accounts check of war from 1907 to 2007, can anyone find an antagonist war in the West which has had a net positive gain? I don't see the Cold war as either a positive gain, or a war in this case, I'm talking about the blood and guts thing, bombs and missiles flying, etc, etc. Rather than wars of political rhetoric etc.

The point is that technology in the past was advanced more rapidly in countries that were at war, this is no longer the case; technology will probably continue to advance at a pace regardless and in some cases it stunts technological advance - in the US for example - but this is more to do with your bonehead presidents siding with the far right Christians etc than war. And there was a cash gain from the spoils of war, plus the political influence of owning an Empire was immense, as England knows only too well. Now though, there seems to be little merit in war except in defence, a lesson it seems Europe has finally learnt? Fingers crossed, although not Mr Blair obviously :wink:
 
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  • #24
Gokul43201
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However you want to portray the politics, it still remains that the UK Canada and US are the antagonists, will this war turn out like other antagonistic wars or not is what is at question.
I was stating the facts behind who was the antagonist, not portraying the politics. I guess I don't understand what you mean by "antagonist" and "antagonistic wars" then. Are you labeling any invading force as the antagonist? Were the UN forces in Iraq (1990) and in Kosovo also antagonists? If they were, then those were cases where the antagonist clearly got a whole lot of good done.
 
  • #25
I was stating the facts behind who was the antagonist, not portraying the politics. I guess I don't understand what you mean by "antagonist" and "antagonistic wars" then. Are you labeling any invading force as the antagonist? Were the UN forces in Iraq (1990) and in Kosovo also antagonists? If they were, then those were cases where the antagonist clearly got a whole lot of good done.
Iraq were the antagonists in that case. Usually you can take antagonists as those who instigate the war by invasion normally. In the case of Afghanistan it was the allies, in the case of Iraq it was the allies, in the case of the Iraq-Kuwait war it was Saddam, in the case of a civil war there can be a number of antagonists, if another country gets involved then it's an antagonist/ally regardless of what side it's on, as is the original instigator in this case, although obviously it's a bit hard to judge a win or a loss for a country in a civil war. By antagonist I mean the invading army generally, those who are on the aggressors side rather than the defenders. Germany in WWII with England and its allies as the defenders. The Falklands, Argentina as the aggressors, UK the defenders.
 

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