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Author Topic: Power Structures in Human Society: Pros and Cons Part 1  (Read 9933 times)

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WAR Makes Us Poorer - CONTINUED
« Reply #45 on: June 04, 2014, 10:15:09 pm »

We believe that another figure that carefully parallels and tracks to give us an indicator of what it might be like is the child mortality rate. And the child mortality rate in the year 1900 was 30 times what it is today . . . So what you’ve got to look at is not the murder rate, but you’ve got to look at the rate at which people are trying to kill one another off. And that is best represented by the aggravated assault rate. And aggravated assault in 1957 was 65 per 100,000. By the early 1990s, it has gone up to almost 450 per 100,000, a seven-fold increase. Seven times more likely to be a victim of violent crime than we were in the 1950s. Now, it went down a little bit throughout the 1990s . . . but even with that little downtown in the 1990s, we’re still five times greater than we were in the 1950s.(6)

Professor Morris also suggests that war has created societies with a higher standard of living that are more peaceful, organized, and inclusive, but again he mistakenly attributes this progress to war. Did war accomplish all of this progress, or did nonviolent struggle play a crucial role? For example, America’s Founding Fathers rebelled against the British Empire because they felt unfairly treated. They believed it was unjust to be controlled or taxed without the opportunity to participate in the political process. They also believed that those who govern must gain the consent of the governed. The motto “No taxation without representation” echoed their grievances and became a call to arms, leading to the American Revolution.

Decades after the war ended, however, less than 10 percent of Americans could vote in national elections. Women could not vote (or own property or graduate from college). African Americans could not vote. And most white people could not vote unless they owned land. During the early nineteenth century “No taxation without representation” only seemed to apply to a minority of rich landowners.
  ;)  >:(

How did so many Americans increase their liberties during the past two hundred years? Did non-landowners fight a war to achieve the right to vote? Did women fight a war to get the right to vote? Did African Americans fight a war to attain their civil rights? Did American workers fight a war to gain their rights? Was a war fought for child labor laws? These victories for liberty and justice were achieved because people waged peace, but most of us are not taught this important part of our history.

Although the American Civil War kept our country together, it took a peaceful movement—the civil rights movement—before African Americans truly got their human rights. And how many European countries fought a civil war to end slavery? Zero.

A person can make an informed argument that war was needed to stop Hitler in the 1940s or end American slavery in the nineteenth century, but that is not Professor Morris’s point. He claims that war makes humanity richer  , even though military history contains countless examples of conquerors turning conquered peoples into slaves or second-class citizens, exploiting the resources of conquered nations, and neglecting the basic needs of their own people in order to fund a rapidly growing war machine.

It is difficult to debunk all the myths in Professor Morris’s article in this short piece, because these myths were not created by him, but are deeply entrenched in societies around the world. Recent research shows that another commonly believed myth in our society is also harming us. Professor Morris echoes this myth by saying, “People almost never give up their freedoms—including, at times, the right to kill and impoverish one another—unless forced to do so; and virtually the only force strong enough to bring this about has been defeat in war or fear that such a defeat is imminent.” (7)

The groundbreaking research of Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan debunks the myth that war is the only way to overcome oppression by showing that nonviolence has become more effective than violence at combating injustice. Erica Chenoweth explains, “From 1900 to 2006, nonviolent campaigns worldwide were twice as likely to succeed outright as violent insurgencies. And there’s more. This trend has been increasing over time, so that in the last fifty years, nonviolent campaigns are becoming increasingly successful and common, whereas violent insurgencies are becoming increasingly rare and unsuccessful. This is true even in those extremely brutal authoritarian conditions where I expected nonviolent resistance to fail.” (8)

Before learning from my West Point professor in 2001, I would have agreed with Professor Morris’s arguments, but then I learned about the deeper reality of war, and studied how nonviolence has become more effective than war as a way of solving our problems in the twenty-first century.

What are some of the problems we must solve today? The 2009 U.S. Army Sustainability Report lists several threats to national security, which include severe income disparity, poverty, and climate change. The report tells us: “The Army is facing several global challenges to sustainability that create a volatile security environment with an increased potential for conflict . . . Globalization’s increased interdependence and connectivity has led to greater disparities in wealth, which foster conditions that can lead to conflict . . . Population growth and poverty; the poor in fast-growing urban areas are especially vulnerable to antigovernment and radical ideologies . . . Climate change and natural disasters strain already limited resources, increasing the potential for humanitarian crises and population migrations.” (9)

When the U.S. Army states that “greater disparities in wealth . . . poverty . . . and climate change” are dangerous, these are some of the same concerns expressed by the Occupy movement. War cannot protect us from any of these dangers, and if we keep believing the myth that war is the only way, we will not be able to solve the problems that threaten human survival in the twenty-first century. Because we have the ability to destroy ourselves with nuclear weapons, if we keep believing the myth that war is the only way, we will keep pursuing war despite the clear evidence that it threatens human survival. If we keep believing the myth that war is the only way, we will continue to create conditions that make us less safe.[/size]

What could humanity achieve if we end war? According to a study conducted by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, an economy focused on peaceful priorities would employ many more Americans than an economy that wages war. In their study they said: “This study focuses on the employment effects of military spending versus alternative domestic spending priorities, in particular investments in clean energy, health care and education . . . We show that investments in clean energy, health care and education create a much larger number of jobs across all pay ranges, including mid-range jobs and high-paying jobs. Channeling funds into clean energy, health care and education in an effective way will therefore create significantly greater opportunities for decent employment throughout the U.S. economy than spending the same amount of funds with the military.” (10)

What else could humanity achieve if we end war? General Douglas MacArthur, who had a deep understanding of war that we can all learn from, said, “The great question is: Can global war now be outlawed from the world? If so, it would mark the greatest advance in civilization since the Sermon on the Mount. It would lift at one stroke the darkest shadow which has engulfed mankind from the beginning. It would not only remove fear and bring security—it would not only create new moral and spiritual values—it would produce an economic wave of prosperity that would raise the world’s standard of living beyond anything ever dreamed of by man. The hundreds of billions of dollars now spent in mutual preparedness [for war] could conceivably abolish poverty from the face of the earth.” (11) 


1. Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Thomas Cleary (Boston: Shambhala, 1988), 25-27.

2. George Orwell, 1984, (New York: Signet Classics, 1977), 157.

3. Dwight D. Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace,” speech delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1953.

4. Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler, War Is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier (Los Angeles: Feral House, 2003), 23.

5. Ian Morris, “In the long run, wars make us safer and richer,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-the-long-run-wars-make…icher/2014/04/25/a4207660-c965-11e3-a75e-463587891b57_story.html.

6. The Bulletproof Mind, DVD, 2008, Dave Grossman and Gavin de Becker.

7.   Ian Morris, “In the long run, wars make us safer and richer,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-the-long-run-wars-make…icher/2014/04/25/a4207660-c965-11e3-a75e-463587891b57_story.html.

8. “The Success of Nonviolent Civil Resistance: Erica Chenoweth at TEDxBoulder,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJSehRlU34w.

9. U.S. Army Sustainability Report 2009, http://www.aepi.army.mil/docs/whatsnew/ FinALArmySustainabilityreport2010.pdf.

10. The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: An Updated Analysis by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier, http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/published_study/spending_priorities_Peri.pdf.

11. General MacArthur: Speeches and Reports: 1908-1964, Edward T. Imparato, ed. (Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing, 2000), 237.

This entry was posted in Peace and tagged military-industrial complex, Paul K. Chappell on May 1, 2014 by Paul K. Chappell.

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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