Somehow, it’s Always for Peace


I think that the chart is probably conservative; there are a lot of undeclared conflicts that look a lot like war to the victims but aren’t because it’s not convenient to use the W-word.

Comments

  1. says

    People all over the place want peace, but politicians just cannot stop bullshitting that wars are necessary for peace. And some unfortunate people fall for this.

    “Если хочешь мира готовься к войне”, I heard this as a “Russian saying” years ago. Turns out it is actually translated from Latin “Si vis pacem, para bellum” (meaning: If you want peace, prepare for war). I have seen people accepting this idea despite how ridiculous it is. In fact, I have even seen people accept the idea that in order to get peace you have to actually wage wars (and not just prepare for them). Somehow you must win a bunch of wars, slaughter a bunch of people and only then you will get peace. WTF?

  2. mordred says

    As someone who grew up during the cold war, I wonder how the years between ’45 and ’89 should be counted. Sure, there was no active shooting involving my home country, but personally I felt more threatened by possible nuclear annihilation than the than, say, the fighting in Afghanistan where my home country’s soldiers are involved.

    Doesn’t mean I don’t care about the deaths in Afghanistan, of course!

  3. cartomancer says

    Seems a rather pointless statistic to me, even if we do ignore all the proxy wars in Cambodia and East Timor and Central America and Palestine that the US has whiled away its time with over the latter half of the 20th century. I’m guessing this is the US population we’re talking about?

    Because what impact have all these wars had on the population as a whole? It’s different for each one, but given that none of these wars have ever touched US soil – they’re all somewhere else – the impact has been negligible compared to what it was on, say, Germans or Iraqis or the Vietnamese. The only people in the US population who would have felt the sharp end of those wars are the soldiers themselves and immigrant refugees fleeing the war zones to settle in the US (and incarcerated Japanese-American citizens). The two World Wars and the Vietnam war saw conscription, so the percentage of the population involved was much higher. I expect the psychic trauma of those wars was comparatively greater too.

    For most Americans the real impact of those wars was felt economically and socially. The massive economic recovery following WWII, the social revolutions surrounding the Vietnam War, the impact of out of control military spending, the racism against Muslims fomented by the “War on Terror”. What it means for a wealthy white 16 year old to have lived 100% of their life in “times of war” is rather different from what it means for a 96 year old Iraqi immigrant to have only spent 35.1%.

  4. jrkrideau says

    Sorry to complain but without a title or caption that chart is uninterpretable. I was trying to see how the proportions applied to a world population and the chart had no meaning. I was going “If we include China, no wait, let’s take Brazil. Nope” and so on.

    With the title of the original post Here’s how much of your life the United States has been at war it made some sense.

    I probably don’t agree with their categorizations but it is not too bad an effort even if it makes the USA look good. I have the feeling that they left out a lot of conflicts that I would at least consider including and that does not even consider most of cartomancer’s points.

  5. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#1:
    I have even seen people accept the idea that in order to get peace you have to actually wage wars (and not just prepare for them). Somehow you must win a bunch of wars, slaughter a bunch of people and only then you will get peace. WTF?

    As the hippie said in 1967, “fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.”

  6. says

    mordred@#2:
    As someone who grew up during the cold war, I wonder how the years between ’45 and ’89 should be counted.

    There’s a lot to interpret in the question of “when is a country at war?” isn’t there? While the US and USSR weren’t directly at war, they both fully militarized their economies – it didn’t have the same effect as if people were running around bayonetting eachother, but there were doubtless a lot of deaths and misery on both sides, merely as a result of the changes to the economy.

  7. says

    cartomancer@#3:
    Seems a rather pointless statistic to me, even if we do ignore all the proxy wars in Cambodia and East Timor and Central America and Palestine that the US has whiled away its time with over the latter half of the 20th century. I’m guessing this is the US population we’re talking about?

    Yes, it’s US population. And figuring out when a nation is/isn’t “at war” is tricky.

    You also raise the important question of what a metric is worth. I see some metrics as operational (metrics you can adjust your behavior toward, or which can be used to identify problems) forensic (metrics you can use to find problems in the past) and illustrative (“gee, wow” numbers) — I’d say this is an illustrative metric. It may not mean anything, and probably doesn’t tend toward a specific policy recommendation, but it might make someone pause and think.

    For me, it was interesting because I am interested in the US military and warfare in history and the present. I write about it a fair bit, and it’s probably good to remind myself that there’s a growing audience for whom “we have always been at war with EastAsia” is the reality. Perhaps, when someone of my generation opines that “war is a bad thing” someone who has grown up in the period from 1990 on may not internalize that idea because they have lived most of their life with wars going on, and the idea that war is a separate thing from society may not hold.

    I don’t know if that’s a good answer; it’s more of a brain-dump.

    Because what impact have all these wars had on the population as a whole? It’s different for each one, but given that none of these wars have ever touched US soil – they’re all somewhere else – the impact has been negligible compared to what it was on, say, Germans or Iraqis or the Vietnamese.

    I think that’s it, exactly. When the US switched from conscription to a professional military, it became possible for wars to be continual because they didn’t directly affect the population. However, the population is affected – the militarized economy of the US has become a sort of ponzi scheme in order to support its military adventures and empire-building.

    The two World Wars and the Vietnam war saw conscription, so the percentage of the population involved was much higher. I expect the psychic trauma of those wars was comparatively greater too.

    It definitely was.

    What it means for a wealthy white 16 year old to have lived 100% of their life in “times of war” is rather different from what it means for a 96 year old Iraqi immigrant to have only spent 35.1%.

    Very true. And it meant a lot different to be a white 16 year-old or a black 16 year-old during the Vietnam era. Surprisingly, a disproportionate number of the latter wound up in Vietnam, while the wealthy white kids stayed home and nursed their “bone spurs.”

  8. says

    jrkrideau@#4:
    Sorry to complain but without a title or caption that chart is uninterpretable.

    You’re right. And you’re right to complain, too. I should have included some of the surrounding text from the WP article. By not doing that, I made them look bad, or worse, or something.

  9. says

    @Marcus (Off topic but I don’t have another clean way to contact)

    You’ve touched on the subject more than once, but have you written or would you be willing to write a sort of handbook of best security practices for a typical online person these days? A sort of do this for social media accounts and this with your desktop and this with your mobile devices? Such-and-such a thing to keep out the individual black hats and harassers, some-other-thing to not attract the unnecessary attention of the three-letter brigade?

    I’m currently trying to generally upgrade my practices across the board, and I think your writing on this in one spot would be a useful resource.

  10. says

    Perhaps, when someone of my generation opines that “war is a bad thing” someone who has grown up in the period from 1990 on may not internalize that idea because they have lived most of their life with wars going on, and the idea that war is a separate thing from society may not hold.

    Nah, I doubt that. I don’t think people are that stupid. They are able to think, to talk to their parents, to read history books. It doesn’t require genius level intelligence to figure out that “war is a bad thing”. Just like it’s not hard to figure out that “hunger is a bad thing” even if you grow up malnourished and get used to being hungry.

    Moreover, it would take multiple generations of continuous wars to condition people to see them as normal. If parents or grandparents are constantly talking about “the good old days when there was peace”, that’s enough for people to figure out that a society without wars is possible and desirable.

    Besides, nowadays I don’t feel like at war. I can live in a peaceful place blissfully unaware about all that crap that’s happening in other continents. It was different for my mother’s generation. Back then the Cold War felt a lot more real for her, and there was the very real threat of a nuclear destruction. While you can argue that the Cold War wasn’t “officially” being at war, it felt more like it. And, despite being used to the constant threat of a nuclear war, people still somehow managed to figure out that “war is a bad thing”.

  11. says

    abbeycadabra@#9:
    You’ve touched on the subject more than once, but have you written or would you be willing to write a sort of handbook of best security practices for a typical online person these days?

    I’ve thought about it but I’m afraid the landscape changes so rapidly that I’d either be talking about techniques that were irrelevant, or I’d have to stick to basics (which is, pretty much, “don’t do it.”)

    One possibility is to generate a page that has top-level links to a sort of collection of postings as a framed guide for personal security, but that wouldn’t be succinct enough; I meander too much.

    I’ll think about it but it probably won’t happen. Feel free to ask specific questions if you have them (I may not have an answer, though)

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