2008/04/26

Foundation for discussion: Why to wage war?

Experts disagree on military art/science/technology just like in other areas of human expertise or art.

I observed that many of the disagreements are rooted in a fundamentally different understanding of the purpose of warfare.
Many of the presently evolving theories are simply useless if you disagree on the purpose of warfare with the theory's proponents.

Some people simply consider "to win" as purpose once the conflict/war has begun. They don't think along the lines of cost/benefit.
This attitude is especially prevalent among right-wing and uniformed thinkers. Soldiers adopt a culture that doesn't promote the thinking about the "why" at all. This highly political question hurts their in-job efficiency and that's why soldiers get conditioned on this and other topics. Sub-cultural conditioning keeps most of them from thinking about war in a comprehensive way.

Pacifists and near-pacifists are the opposite; by representing an extreme ideology they have the useful talent and motivation to expose many flaws, but fail to appreciate that in many people's opinion violence can be helpful in solving conflicts.

Some people invest years of creative thinking into theories about forms of warfare that are irrelevant to others.
Counter-insurgency theory and theory about the conflict category "state vs. non-state power" (4th Generation Warfare) are quite fashionable today.
For some thinkers (like me), this is a quite irrelevant form of warfare. Foreign non-state actors cannot invade us, they cannot infiltrate us beyond the limits of police responsibility. State vs. non-state warfare is most relevant if your own people fights its own government (this happens often for good reasons) or if you mess up distant countries with your troops.
So what's the point in mastering 4th generation warfare as state actor?

A lot of attention and effort is spent on forwarding military theories, theories about including political efforts into warfare and the likes; we should invest more attention and effort into discussion about "why warfare instead of co-existence".

This question is important at all times; in wartime as well as in peace.
We should not allow ourselves to stop thinking about it once we're at war; the results of such behavior have proved to be disastrous again and again.

The most important question about "war or peace" is the philosophical question about the value of life in comparison to other life and to property. The philosophers need to advance their thinking about this to enable the conflict theoreticians to create a conclusive model for a good decision about war and peace.

So let's reason about "Why to wage war?"

Sven Ortmann

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