am a military history buff. I was born right before the U.S. entered World
War II. My uncle fought in both WWI and WWII. I was fascinated by pictures of
airplanes and ships of war. When I learned to read I could happily settle down
with a book such as "U.S. Destroyer Operations in WWII." The point
is that I have been a student of the military and war for about 60 years. Without
having served beyond R.O.T.C. in college (4-F) I have learned quite a lot about
why wars are fought and how they are won.
One of the first things one learns about war is that it is expensive.
Kings imposed taxes so they could conduct their wars. Nations go bankrupt
to pay for wars. Destruction of property is almost required when
one conducts or even trains for war. The weapons of war are expensive. The
between a knight and a common foot-soldier was that the knight had an expensive
horse and a fortune in armor and a sword which might have taken a man years
to produce. Even just occupying a country that doesn't want your army there
costs a lot of money.
So why do nations/kingdoms/empires/city-states and such go to war?
Because of the nature of their money, of course. Remember that a physical
object money (POM) can
be taken against the will of the owner. POM simulates
a zero-sum game relationship, even among nations. POM can be used to motivate
immoral behavior (such as hiring soldiers to invade a neighboring country).
Looking back over history, there has always been a monetary motive for every
war. You can't find a war that didn't have someone on one side or the other
expecting to gain financially from the war and usually both sides have that
expectation. Those who provide the arms for a war know that there will be
more business if there is a war. Those who serve in the army get paid and
hope for loot. Those who work for the army bureaucracy get paid. The leaders/rulers
can gain more territory to tax and loot. (Alexander
the Great gained literally
tons of gold and silver not to mention the gems.) Everywhere along
the line people are hoping for and expecting to have the opportunity to gain
Usually it doesn't work out to anyone's benefit. Wars almost never go the
way those who initiate them expect them to. Wars have large up-front costs
and require considerable expenditures to keep going. But all along the way
that lure of
the "big bucks," that keeps the leaders going. At least... they
are kept going until survival and threats to life and limb provide motivation
to change their minds.
From an historical perspective, it is obvious that war has been a singularly
stupid human enterprise. Though there have been some benefits from
war, overall the loss from war has been enormously greater in life, money
Yet, stupid and destructive as war has been for all the societies that have
participated in warfare (and that includes almost all nations), war continues
unabated around the world because the same kind of money, physical object
money, is in use around the world in every nation.
The companion article to this article is "non-POM
and War" which
should be "nearby."
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