Saturday, October 17, 2009

No War

I have been thinking about war a lot lately.

Today, in November 2009, the United States is at war. I have written before about how we won World War II. I have always had an interest in seeing, reading and hearing all I could about the World wars. Maybe it just seemed such a fearsome prospect that I wanted to be sure I understood how it came about and came to an end if only to feel it could be avoided or to feel some sense that the world was a safe enough place for me to live in.

I'd love to hate war. I'd love to work to end it and prevent it in all circumstances. I have run the theoretical models in my head over and over again. Repressive regime or dictator wants to control and enslave all mankind, I do not wish to be controlled or enslaved along with millions of others so I must stand up and fight. War is thus made.

Sometimes I think the most reasonable end to war is overwhelming force. Back in the day we used incendiary and even nuclear weapons to make the point that Empires and Reichs were not going to dominate free people. To make the point stick required unhindered recourse.

How can I hate war but call for overwhelming violence? If there must be war shouldn't it be decided as swiftly as possible?

I really don't enjoy considering the plausibility of the theories that profiteers arrange for wars to be able to buy up wealth when prices are low or panicked and thereby own more of the world after the prices recover. What a cold rationality.

Then again, we have had a population crises before and I think a philosopher like Nietzsche would applaud convenient solutions such as global conflict to reduce the exponential growth.

My very religious mother likes to say "God has plagues, wars, famines and thirst to handle population growth, don't worry about it". That sounds like the least-managed outcome I can envision.

Dr. Norman Borlaug died this year. He helped forestall what might have been a major 20th century disaster by encouraging the use of new high yield crops and by lobbying for policy changes in areas of high growth in population such as India and Pakistan. He warned that while the grain production might now be ahead of the population growth, the limit would be reached again as the population grows beyond the ability of science to produce higher yields while at the same time arable land shrinks because so many more people need to live and be housed.

Many religious cultures would try to out grow their counterparts by overbreeding to the point of senselessness watching infrastructure fail to keep up. Attitudes like that are deeply detrimental to the future of life on earth. If the capacity of the planet is greater than the current population, we should grow cautiously and sensibly. Now it seems there is a war to flood the world with ones own culture and ethnicity.

In a contest such as this, those who limit their reproductive rate risk being overwhelmed by the others. It reverses the logic of cautious growth. This push to maintain relevance in exponentiating throngs will bring conflict over finite land and water resources.

I think the irrationality of religious belief often becomes the core cause of war. It is often religious people who aspire to have as many children as possible. This is also usually much more than just a personal hope, it is thought to be a moral duty to God.

An American Physicist and Nobel Laureate said:

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
-Steven Weinberg

What is the solution to be? Is the prescription really war, famine, flood and pestilence?

Perhaps the earth can sustain more people that I might think. Maybe a sentient culture needs many people to survive at all. Still, where ever the limit, there is one and I think the problem is not being addressed. Violent evil dictators have tried their solutions. I think there is something better.

Can we live without war? I would like to think so, though my common sense sees a different picture.


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