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Author Topic: Power Structures in Human Society: Pros and Cons Part 1  (Read 10180 times)

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War Makes Us Poorer
« Reply #45 on: June 04, 2014, 09:56:36 pm »
War Makes Us Poorer

by Paul K. Chappell

Paul K. ChappellWhen I began my senior year at West Point in August 2001, I took a class on national security that greatly influenced me. It was the first time I had seriously questioned the size of the U.S. military budget. My professor was a West Point graduate, Rhodes scholar, and major in the army. One day he walked in the classroom and wrote the names of eighteen countries on the board. He then looked at us and said, “The United States spends more on its military than the next eighteen countries in the world combined. Why do we need that much military spending? Isn’t that insane?”

My professor then explained that immense war spending impoverishes the American people. None of the students in the class said anything. I was shocked by what he told us and did not know how to respond. Disturbed by our silence, he said, “I’m surprised you all aren’t more outraged by this. Why do we need that much military spending?”

This week, I read an article written by Stanford professor Ian Morris, which was featured on the Washington Post website. The article was titled, “In the long run, wars make us safer and richer.” His article suggests that war is good for humanity because it makes us richer (I will also address his argument that war makes us safer later in this piece). Is this true? Was my professor incorrect? Studying the reality of military history—in addition to my experiences as an active duty soldier—has given me abundant evidence that war makes most people poorer, not richer.

Over two thousand years ago, Sun Tzu recognized that war impoverishes most people in a society. In The Art of War, he said, “When a country is impoverished by military operations, it is because of transporting supplies to a distant place. Transport supplies to a distant place, and the populace will be impoverished. Those who are near the army sell at high prices. Because of high prices, the wealth of the common people is exhausted. When resources are exhausted, then levies are made under pressure. When power and resources are exhausted, then the homeland is drained. The common people are deprived of seventy percent of their budget, while the government’s expenses for equipment amount to sixty percent of its budget.” (1)

Over two thousand years after Sun Tzu lived, the nature of war has not changed. War still impoverishes most people today. Writing in the twentieth century, war veteran George Orwell said, “The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.” (2)

Also realizing that war harms humanity in many ways, General Dwight Eisenhower compared war spending to crucifixion : “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children . . . Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” (3)

Gandhi said people can have a piece of the truth, and Professor Morris certainly has a piece of the truth. He is partially correct, because war does make some people richer. Major General Smedley Butler, one of the most decorated Marines in U.S. history, witnessed the harmful aspects of war that are hidden from the public. He said, “War is a racket . . . A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.” (4)

If we want evidence to support General Butler’s claim that war “is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many,” we can look at all of military history.

Professor Morris is correct that humanity has made progress, but he mistakenly attributes this progress exclusively to war. He says, “By many estimates, 10 to 20 percent of all Stone Age humans died at the hands of other people . . . Over the [20th] century . . . just 1 to 2 percent of the world’s population died violently. Those lucky enough to be born in the 20th century were on average 10 times less likely to come to a grisly end than those born in the Stone Age. And since 2000, the United Nations tells us, the risk of violent death has fallen even further, to 0.7 percent . . . Ten thousand years ago, when the planet’s population was 6 million or so, people lived about 30 years on average . . . Now, more than 7 billion people are on Earth, living more than twice as long (an average of 67 years) . . . This happened because about 10,000 years ago, the winners of wars began incorporating the losers into larger societies.” (5)

Even if we believe the assumption that “10 to 20 percent of all Stone Age humans died at the hands of other people” (this assumption is based on speculation because people back then did not keep records of homicide rates and there are not enough skeletal remains to make such a judgment), there are many reasons why violent deaths have decreased, which Professor Morris does not mention in his article. A major reason why fewer people today die from violence is because medical technology has improved significantly.

Professor Morris’s argument is suspect , because he makes the mistake of using murder rates to claim that violence is decreasing. Because medical technology has improved so dramatically, however, we must instead look at aggravated assault rates. In his DVD The Bulletproof Mind, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman explains:

From this point on, anytime anybody talks to you about violent crime in terms of the murder rate, completely ignore the data. The murder rate completely misrepresents the problem across any period of time. Why? Because medical technology is saving ever more lives every year . . . If we had 1930s level technology in America today, the murder rate would easily be ten times what it is. 1930s level evacuation technology, no ambulance services, no cars for most people. 1930s notification technology, no 911 systems, no phones for most people. 1930s level medical technology, no penicillin [penicillin was first discovered in 1928 but was not used widely until the late 1930s and early 1940s], no antibiotics . . . What if every gunshot wound, every knife wound, every trauma wound, there were no phones, there were no cars, and when you finally got the guy to the hospital, there were no antibiotics or penicillin? How many more would die? Easily ten times as many.

Read the rest of this truth filled and myth busting article here:

« Last Edit: June 14, 2014, 06:12:59 pm by AGelbert »
Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them. Pr. 22:22-23


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