Monday, July 20, 2009
WAR! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?
So in my International Conflict class this week we were asked to define what war was for us, and to also list causes of international wars. I decided to post it here with some minor revision to formatting because I do think its worth thinking about. Without further ado:
I thought for some time about what my definition of "war" would be. My initial reaction was something along the lines of: armed conflict between groups. But then I thought of my many friends in the United States Armed Forces, that have been on more than one tour of duty, and have all seen combat. I revised this definition to align more with a definition of Carl von Clausewitz's, that war is "a clash between major interests that is resolved by bloodshed - that is the only way in which it differs from other conflicts." The important key word here for me would be the word "bloodshed". I also found it interesting that the origin of the word "war" lies in the root word "wers" which means "to confuse, mix up", which leads to the many causes of war.
The author I read mentions throughout the first few chapters of the book that the causes of war are numerous and sundry, and "are often complex, diffuse, and multidimensional." I would be inclined to agree with that statement, but Antoine-Henri Jomini, the Swiss strategist, notes on several causes of war, which I feel sum them up quite well, "ideological, economic, and popular wars, wars to defend the balance of power, wars to assist allies, wars to assert or defend rights." The only other cause, that I feel can be taken to the psychological level, most especially, Irving Janis' definition of groupthink:
"[Groupthink is] a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members' striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action. "Groupthink" is a term of the same order as the words in the newspeak vocabulary George Orwell presents in his dismaying 1984 - a vocabulary with such terms as "doublethink" and "crimethink". By putting groupthink with those Orwellian words, I realize that groupthink takes on an invidious connotation. The invidiousness is intentional: Groupthink refers to a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in group pressures..."
Nietzche said it best when he mentioned that madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups.
The moral of this story? THINK. FOR. YOURSELF.