Is War a male phenomenon? by Joseph Racioppi
Any student of history is forced to study war. It appears war is part of the human condition. It must be, since mankind partakes in it so often. I say mankind because I always thought it was obvious that war was a male phenomenon.
Of course, there were exceptions to the rule; just look at this website titled: Woman as Warriors in History. And I am aware there are several examples of woman leaders who sent troops into battle. Queen Boadicea led the Iceni against the Romans and inflicted serious damage before she was defeated; Catherine the Great is another example, as is Margaret Thatcher in more modern times.
Still, most of the combatants in the wars throughout history were men. I think there is a good argument to make that testosterone is the cause of much of the conflict in the world. Boys are more aggressive and competitive and physically stronger than woman. Please don't give me examples of how some women can do the same things as men. (Forget football, women can't even play professional baseball.) But that's not the issue here.
Freud said civilization is controlling man's aggressiveness. I agree, but are we really civilized? Look at the 20th century. Over nine million (mostly men) were killed in World War I, also known as the "Great War" (now there's an oxymoron). Nine million is just the number of dead. Millions more were wounded and maimed.
And what did WWI accomplish? Does any serious historian really believe the US entered WWI to: "make the world safe for democracy"? Considering that England, France and Belgium were colonial powers, this was an absurd claim. World War I certainly wasn't the "War to end all wars" since they did it all over again twenty one years later. Only this time, the death toll was about fifty million.
Bertrand Russell, the great British mathematician/philosopher, wrote about the subject of war in his "Principles of Social Reconstruction" (1916). He said: "The ultimate fact from which war results is the fact that a large proportion of mankind have an impulse to conflict rather than harmony". He also admitted that perhaps there was no adequate solution the problem. Russell was vilified and briefly jailed for his anti-war views.
Can war be summarized as boys playing with toys, i.e. guns, tanks, ships and airplanes? Niall Ferguson, in his book "The Pity of War" theorizes that the soldiers rather enjoyed the experience (he was writing about WWI). Would there be less war if the heads of state were mostly women? Gerry Spence, the great trial lawyer, said in his book "From Freedom to Slavery":
..."the world, suffering through its tragic history of war, genocide, starvation, ignorance, and misery, has been under the nearly exclusive domination of men from the onset of civilization. It would be a risk-free experiment were women to take over the sole leadership of the world for the next ten thousand years, considering the miserable record men have established as leaders throughout our dismal history."
The Iraq war claimed another two New Jerseyans this week. Here is a list of New Jersey war dead with pictures. Ironically, right near the top is a photo of a woman killed in action.
After September 11th, most of the country wanted to kick some ass. It didn't even matter whose ass (as evidenced by the near unanimous support of the Iraq invasion). We had to do something, right?
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark
And whistled early with the lark
In winter trenches, cowed and glum
With crumps and lice and lack of rum
He put a bullet through his brain
No one spoke of him again
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go
Suicide in the Trenches, by S. Sassoon
War, as opposed to personal violence, is a product of group cohesion, which is in turn a product of needing other people in order to survive. War is encouraged by the development of group identity and of hatred, both of which are encouraged by having a bad and hard life.
We are on the cusp of the introduction of productive technologies that have the potential to make every individual rich without needing to obey another human being, at which point we might notice that our only real enemy is anyone who tries to force us to do something with the threat of force (physical or economic or emotional or spiritual).
At that point, the ability to get people to get together to fight wars will be strongly diminished. Some people will still probably arrange them because they are at heart bastards who enjoy other people's suffering, but I think this will be the exception rather than the rule it has been ever since we ran out of enough land to live well as hunter-gatherers (modern h-gs live on the margins in areas with very limited resources---their constant warring has nothing to do with how all our ancestors lived back before our success back-fired).
Jerome M. Martinez
There will be war! If war was outlawed, which country not go to war? Can the UN prevent war, or will they sign off on war! In the real world of real politik, there will be war. Just look at the USA, they don't want Iran to have any nuclear weapons, but they themselves have 10,000 nuclear weapons. Why? To bully the weaker nations with the answer that war is inevitable.
War has never been a particularly effective tool and more people are realizing that every day. More importantly, we are learning to see through the ways we've traditionally been manipulated into war to serve the short term interests of a relative few. People who communicate through modern media are more challenging to divide and conquer. Militaries are more challenged to recruit. Universal nonparticipation in war is becoming a recognized common standard of humanity.
No, it is not. We are an evolving specie. It may be that we create a different society in another 3,000 years, it may not. We have recently enjoyed outgrowths, tendrils of societies that are fully engaged and simultaneously creating peaceful links where people who desire to do so emigrage to other cultures. The biggest contrainsts, cultural differences in small geographic areas, may then be moot, as people will no longer force oppression on others, whether that is Sharia or tollerance.
War is inevitable so long as questions such as this is posed, as if there were no will and decision process that brings about war. It is not even a question of style or type of government. It is a question of the state of mind of those who are empowered to start wars. To ascribe it to some sort of inevitability is to absolve culpability and to deny civilization.
Growing up, I was always taught by my environmental lawyer father that yes; war is inevitable. He was deeply influenced by overpopulation books like "The population bomb", by Paul Elrich. The predictions in that book did not pan out(I think it said we would've all been dead by now, or at least living in a ghastly, overpopulated world).
My father always taught me that war was a natural population control; that however unpleasant, it acted to reduce population and ease competition for resources.
In adulthood, I think of this a lot. While it might be true that war is a natural control for an unhealthily large population, aren't there other, more logical ways to curb the growth?
Yes. It is in man's nature to identify an "other", whether that is based upon skin color, beliefs, gender or whatever. We do this from the time we are children (bullying for example) to adults. We do it on an everyday petty scale to a grand scale. We have a tribal mentality that remains with us even though modern man likes to believe that he has shed that tendency. Any objective look at office politics for example would reveal that we have not.
It is this tribal mentality, this tendency to always define an "other" to oppose for whatever reason big or small, that is the reason that War (be it in conventional terms or a more metaphorical one) is inevitable. It is human nature.
Sadly I don't believe that human self-interest will ever subordinate itself to the welfare of others on a large enough scale to prevent the political, geographical, economic & racial divisions which eventually lead to violent conflict. For a true society of peace to exist, only a universal attitude of regarding others as being equal in human value w/ ourselves, despite whatever differences we observe, can sustain such a utopian environment.
War is inevitable as long as there are religions.
The idea that one person would sacrifice his life for another is what keeps war from total obsolescence. The people who benefit from war are glorified by the sacrifice, and the people who do the fighting are ennobled by it. Valor, sacrifice, honor. Now that the USA wages war by remote control, all three values have been removed from the equation, and war is just murder. Now if we Americans can ever get over our craving for violence, war will fade into history. War is not inevitable.
You ask two different questions, which have two answers. Is war inevitable? No, I don't think so. In every relationship, no matter the complexity, there are many ways to solve a dispute. Violent action is only one of these. However, as to whether we will ever stop fighting wars, I also say no. This saddens me, as I have two little kids, and I'd love to think that the world has figured out how to develop without killing. The truth it, however, we haven't. And the economic bonding and expansion that's taken place over the last few decades has only increased the likelihood of war, because our interests have expanded as well. Isolation may be debated, but it's also impossible, at least for countries like ours. And even if the largest nations develop tools for solving crises without bullets, smaller nations will also see military power as a sure fire way into the conversation. And why wouldn't they? Poorer countries are treated like charity cases, at best, until we become afraid of them. And sadly, this military build up almost always comes at the expense of their own people.
War is an organized activity. Unlike the heated argument between individuals that might lead to violence, war requires someone, or some group, to gather, persuade, and organize a larger group of people to engage in violence against another group of people(s). The question then becomes; what is it that inspires or drives the 'someone,' or 'some group' to organize others for war? The answer is status seeking.
Can you imagine that Henry V, King of England, did not have enough people genuflecting and humbling themselves to him? That he did not have sufficient castles and keeps, land and lords to be content? War with France was not for him a matter of insufficient wealth, it solely a matter of pride and status. He took his people to was so he could prove that he personally was superior to the King of France.
This same lust for, and pursuit of status is what drives American CEO's, with already obscene and unspendable wealth, to constantly seek more. The mantra is if so-and-so makes so much, I must make more.
We will have war so long as we maintain as a necessity, the creation of heirarchical structures of organization. Such structures inevitably reward the status-hungry internally, and subsequently demand a similar competitive relationship with other similar organizations. That is why, irrespective of the type or stated purpose of an organization, e.g. religious organizations, political organizations, etc, there will be conflict, and between nations, war.
The solution is to move from our current paradigm of organizing people to achieve common aims, from large to small. Smaller groups tend to work more cooperatively, whereas large groups appear to require specialization, and heirarchy. Eliminate the latter and you go a long way to eliminating war.
War is inevitable when we have political 'leaders' and 'journalists' and 'experts' who either have convinced themselves that it is or actually want war because they think it aids reelection or serves special interests who lust for war or who just lust for war themselves. Watch the network news or listen to NPR or read the Times, and it's clear that many 'experts' today view war as a video game, much as drone operators sitting in Virginia must.
War is inevitable because so many Americans _like_ war.
Perhaps, but not until all of humanity has the same common interests. Until then, Nations will continue to do what is best for their survival and war is an unfortunate but often necessary mean.
So long as there are scarce resources and national borders, there will be conflicts. So, absent some supply of cheap, unlimited energy, you'll always have at least the threat of war and the necessity to maintain armed forces.
War is a human invention to solve their conflic in the old days. This means continues throughout history and in modern society because of religious dominance. If laws in society are based on reality, there'll be no need to fight other nations.
Conflict is inevitable. War is a choice to resolve conflict.
As the world approaches world-wide democracy, war wanes leaving in its wake a way to resolve differences with non-lethal methods not involving bullets.
War is certainly not inevitable. It results from decisions made by human beings, and human beings can choose different options for dealing with problems. Unfortunately, US policy and culture has become so militarized that many cannot even imagine alternatives to war and ways of preventing it. What we need is greater investment and creative thinking about alternatives to war, and a real political commitment to ending war, and we could build a world without war. See http://fcnl.org/ for more info.