A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[FORUM] Is mass war in the 21st century likely?

The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer linked to a blog post by one Martin Skold responding to the Crimean crisis. Skold argues that massive wars like the First World War aren’t likely for six reasons. (I quote Maurer’s summary below.)

1. We have nuclear weapons now, and we don’t make light of them.
2. It is more difficult to hold onto conquered territory, and less useful to try.
3. There is no military conscription in most great powers today, and there are demographic and technological reasons why it is unfeasible.
4. The great powers are broke.
5. Finance is globalized.
6. And finally: people are older, richer, more heavily taxed, more heavily subsidized, and more cynical.

Maurer has some issues with these: “The first two points I agree with. The third is incomplete. The penultimate two are incorrect. And the last is irrelevant.” I’d suggest that the last four points could be compressed to a matter of whether or not people want to incur the costs of waging war, whether by going into debt or introducing conscription. He in turn raises the example of Yugoslav republics opting for war instead of a more rational peaceful settlement of their issues, but I’d suggest that choice was made as a product of previous choices, past history, and ongoing developments that included an “apocalypse culture” borne out of disenchantment with the Titoist order. Yugoslav republics opted for war because they wanted to; if things had gone differently, somehow, they wouldn’t have.

War, just like peace, is an option if we want it. So is mass warfare.

Do we want it? Does anyone especially, whether in eastern Europe or East Asia or elsewhere? What will go on, military wise, in the coming years?


Written by Randy McDonald

May 18, 2014 at 3:58 am

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