Re: Bad Trend in War

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Fri Jun 23 2000 - 17:11:25 MDT wrote:
> Robin writes:
> > The chart:
> > in
> > shows a bad long term trend. I sure hope it has changed lately.
> That is a sobering figure. War related deaths in the 20th century running
> about 110 million, almost three times the per-capita figures of the 17th,
> 18th, and 19th centuries.
> The authors show a correlation between countries with high percentages
> of young men and countries with a warlike record today. This probably
> doesn't work too well across the centuries, as I am assuming that the
> shorter lifespans of the past would have put more people in the young
> demographics.
> It's not clear that it is causative either in today's world, as there
> is are obvious geographic and cultural connections among the third
> world countries with many young people, beyond just their demographic
> similarities. Uganda has more in common with Rwanda than with Sweden
> any way you look at it.
> The figures I found for warfare were about 50 million deaths (military and
> civilian) in WWII, and about 20 million for WWI. This leaves 40 million
> unaccounted for in the chart. If you include the Russian revolution and
> the Stalinist purges, that could account for the bulk of the remainder,
> although the latter would probably not be considered war related.

There is also the Chinese civil war, Vietnam, and the Vietnam-Cambodian
invasion and civil war. Then there's the India-Pakistan wars (four or
five of those), plus the Iran-Iraq war.

> Libertarians tend to say, "wars are caused by governments," and that is
> the end of the analysis. This is too simplistic: governments have been
> around for a long time, but here we have a big increase in warfare in
> the past 100 years.

Government centralization, taxation for defense spending, and control
over the economies of their countries peaked in the mid 20th century.

> It is perhaps encouraging that at least 70% of the deaths occured in
> the first half of the century, despite the population being twice as
> high in the 2nd half on average. Perhaps that will turn out to have
> been the peak and now we are on a downslope towards historical levels.

I think you are right. The current technological trends speak to high
technology being used to deliver guided munitions on surgical strikes
that are ever more accurate. The old days of carpet bombing, gassing,
trench warfare and incindiary bombing I think are over. Large amounts of
money are still being spent, though to a lesser extent, about 50% of the
level seen in the early 1980's, but this money is being spent for
technology capable of acheiving tactical objectives that are more and
more removed from any impact upon the man in the field or the civilian
population. Current weapons technology is focused toward destroying the
warmaking capability and industrial infrastructure of the enemy with as
few casualties as possible. Professional armies are shrinking to a small
core cadre of well trained and equipped professionals, which appears to
mimic the trend in the 16th and 17th centuries, before
industrialization, toward mercenaries and condotierre captains, who
fight set piece wars with limited objectives for a world aristocracy who
played politics like a chessboard and treated the commoner as a mere
thing to be disposed of at a whim.

I think the next century will see a bit of a melding of this with the
mass mentality of the 20th century, where governments, that are the
tools of syndicates of metanational industrial groups, will become
mercenary services that will go into a geographic area that is resisting
the authority of either the government or the metanats, and
systematically disarm and de-industrialize that area, forcing the
population to subjugate itself to the offense's markets (See "The
Merchant's War", I beleive by Forward)

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