I was born on July 25, 1933 and I am now 84 years of age during this time span there has always been a war going on someplace on this planet. The United States during this time has been involved in many wars. Approximately 2,852,901 men and women have become casualties of our many, many wars. These figures do not include the many more men and women who are considered missing in action and the many civilian casualties caused by our wars.
The first war that I became cognizant of was World War II, which took place from 1941-45. My older brother Morty served in the Pacific during this war. Then there was the Korean War, which took place from 1950-53. This was followed up by the Vietnamese war of 1961-75. The Iraq/Afghanistan wars have been going on from 2001 to the present day. These are wars that are at least current during my lifetime, however, the United States from its early history has been in many other wars. The following list is not conclusive, however, worth noting.
The list will start at the birth of our nation the American Revolutionary war 1775-1783 and continues on. They are the Northwest Indian war 1785-1796, the Quasi-war (bet you never heard of that term) 1798-1800, the first Barbary War in 1801-1805. (There were many other actions against pirates from 1800-1900.) There was the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair in 1807. A larger war took place from 1812-1815 which was the war of 1812. This was followed by the Nuka Hiva Campaign 1813-1814. Another war during the years of 1813-1814 was the Creek War. The second Barbary war took place during 1815. The First Seminole War than was fought 1817-1818. A small conflict occurred in 1832 this was referred to as the First Sumatran Expedition. Follow this up with the Black Hawk War 1832. The second Seminole War then followed 1835-1842. A larger conflict that most are cognizant of being the war of 1812 (1812-1815.) Then there was the Mexican-American War 1846-1848. There was also the Philippine-American War 1899-1902. That sure is a lot of killing. There were many more conflicts during the above years, many settlers and American Indians lost their lives. We have been a nation of wars some seemingly for good reasons and others caused by greed and selfishness.
I believe here I should mention the wars that cause the greatest loss of life to Americans. America lost in combat deaths during the American Civil War 212,938 souls. During World War One combat deaths were 53,402. During the Vietnam war combat deaths were 47,424. The Korean War took 33,746 good men and women to their death. It is said that war is hell it sure is. But is this hell worth the lives that have been lost.
The above figures are just about American casualties the world has suffered even greater losses because of wars. Many figures have been given to the total loss of humans during the Second World War the list of these figures would start at about 50 million.
In addition, many more service men and women have died after coming home from wars and are dying this very day because of wars. Mainly as a result of drug overdoses, vehicle crashes, or suicide. And let us not forget our Coalition partners have died in large numbers: approximately 43,000 uniformed Afghans, Iraqis and other allies have died as of May 2014. (This figure has gotten much larger as the killings go on.)
Nobody knows when wars first took place. When the world was a hunter gatherer society where membership was small since they were either family or tribal there was conflict and murder. The first war in recorded history took place in Mesopotamia in 2700 BCE between Sumer and Elam. The Sumerians, under command of the King of Kish, Enembaragesi, defeated the Elamites in this war and, it is recorded, “carried away as spoils the weapons of Elam.”
So how can one define war? The Prussian military analyst Carl Von Clausewitz, in his book On War, calls it, “continuation of politics carried on by other means.” War is waged by political entities, nations or, earlier, city states in order to resolve political or territorial disputes and are carried out on the battlefield by armies comprised of soldiers of the contending nations or by mercenaries paid by a government to wage battle.”
Above I have spoken of war in the cost of human lives, however, wars have cost the United States a great deal of funds, reducing our national treasury where these funds could be better spent for the welfare of the American people. So let me throw a few facts at you. World War II costs America 4.10 trillion dollars, the Vietnam War cost America 738 billion dollars, the Korean war cost was 334 billion dollars, the Iraq War another 784 billion dollars and so far the Afghanistan War has cost our treasury 321 billion dollars.
War might be hell but not for everyone. Many individuals as well as organizations and corporations have profited greatly for making wars or at least taking part in them. The ten highest war profiteers are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company EADS, Finmeccanica, L-3 Communications, and United Technologies. These corporations are all directly connected with the production of weapons, machinery, vehicles, aircraft, electronics and artillery(including missiles) and as such have significant political influence given their lobbying efforts and campaign contributions to members of the United States Congress in the promotion of war efforts. In 2010, the defense industry spent $144 million on lobbying and donated over $22.6 million to congressional candidates.
Currently, the United States is the world’s largest weapons manufacturer and exporter, followed by Russia, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and China consecutively.
Political figures taking bribes and favors from corporations involved with war production have been called war profiteers. Abraham Lincoln’s first Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, was forced to resign in early 1862 after charges of corruption relating to war contracts. In 1947, Kentucky Congressman Andrew J. May, Chairman of the powerful Committee on Military Affairs, was convicted for taking bribes in exchange for war contracts. The list goes on but is much too large to mention in this essay.
President Eisenhower warned the American people that going to war might not serve the interest of the nation, rather the institution of the military and weapons-producing corporations.
It does seem as if war is a natural process. In some form or other it has taken place during the time of Man. Animals kill for territory and other reasons as well. So if war is a natural process can it be eliminated? Some believe that it can be eliminated if the world had adequate food, fuel and other basic needs. However, there would always be individuals who want more than their fair allotment. Just think of the leaders of nations throughout world history that brought about wars. They were kings and queens, emperors and other powerful and rich individuals that needed no more to survive than they already had. So even the super rich and powerful could still because of their greed bring about more war.
Are there some good reasons for going to war such as a war to stop slavery, a war to stop a madman like Hitler from murdering millions of people? If the South had won the Civil War would slavery still be part of America, I think not. However, before slavery was abolished many more millions would have been enslaved. Hitler wanted to create a master race and his plan was to conquer nations and people that he felt as not worthy of being included in his master race. If World War II had not been fought Hitler would have conquered all of Europe and it would not have been long before he saw the necessity to conquer America. He had to be stopped and was by defeating him in World War II. So I see no clear answer to the above question. Wars are evil and many die during them, however, under certain circumstances, perhaps they should be fought.
As long as there are separate nations wars will be fought whether it be for territory, resources or because of ideologies such as religious beliefs. Perhaps it will take a time when all the nations in the world have an understanding that they are better off without wars working together. I am afraid that this will never happen as long as there are separate nations. Perhaps if there were as in the United States a form of government, which is a republic where each nation has a say, however there is a central governing force such as a federal force as we have in the United States. What could come about might be the United States of Europe. But you would still have to have the United States, Asia and so on. Wars could be then fought among these republics. So you would have to have a form of government which would be the United States of the World. Will this happen? Not for a very long time, if ever. It may take a world calamity to force the nations of the world to see they are better off without war and working together as one to solve their problems. I can think of one way this might happen. That is if Man keeps on destroying the earth that benefits Man and action has to be taken by all for the survival of Man then perhaps wars could be eliminated.
With all this said the question still remains is the human race hard wired for war. If we are as humans hardwired for war, whatever form of government comes about there will always be conflicts that will bring about wars. The solution to eliminate wars will have to be as I see it a moral solution, however changing the ideologies of all mankind may not be possible and wars will continue to plague the human race.