A Discussion of Wars

The winners of major wars most often hire the historians who wind up defining what are the most important trends of human history.

In The Story of Civilization, authors Will and Ariel Durant chronicle human history. It is not an exaggeration to assert after a survey of their work that countless wars have dominated the primary narratives of human history. On this site, we’ll lean towards leaving commentary on wars in the pre-Napoleonic eras to the Durants work, except for America’s Revolutionary War.

We could spend our entire lives discussing the American Revolutionary War. We find more significance in three documents associated with the Revolutionary War, than the military aspects of the conflict itself. The Declaration of Independence, The Articles on Confederation, and the U.S. Constitution, including the first ten amendments, are among the most significant intellectual contributions in human history. The Declaration of Independence creates the framework for the U.S. Constitution and the Articles of Confederation are perhaps best known for what they do NOT contain, namely a strong central government.

It is crucial to the interpretation of human history to understand that the United States Constitution and its first ten amendments contained the FIRST protections of citizen rights from both civilian and military generals. These protections were first secured when the American colonies WON the Revolutionary War. However, it is even more crucial to understand that the essential elements of the U.S. Constitution had to be spelled out BEFORE the 13 original colonies would agree to be governed by a central power.

So forward looking was the document that the provisions for processes that allowed amendment of the document were also crucial. The framers knew they may have left out important protections. The allowance of amendments, paved the way for the legal end to slavery. However, it is noteworthy, once again, that a war, the Civil War, made some of the subsequent amendments to the Constitution that prohibited slavery possible. Hence our preference to see history through a Military Prism.

Two world wars in the 20th Century can often be reduced to a single concept. Too many countries around the world did not adhere to sacred constitutional processes, that enabled a more intelligent selection of their civilian/military generals. Whether we consider Kaiser Wilhelm, Benito Mussolini, Hideki Tojo, or Adolf Hitler, the point here is simple. The countries that wound up with profoundly flawed leaders did not have processes in place to help them govern themselves by choosing peace oriented civilian and/or military generals. As such, these nations eventually wound up with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of their citizens killed in wars. Eventually it was other nation’s generals, who were dictating the terms of existence for the Germans and Japanese.

Of course, there were subsequent wars after the two world wars of the first half of the 20th Century. The Korean War and the Viet Nam War are the first to come to mind. These two conflicts were simply violent outbreaks associated with the Cold War between Russia and the U.S. Why does a Cold War continue to this day? It is simply because as nuclear proliferation became widespread, it induced a mandatory temperance towards traditional military escalations. American/Russian relations have hardly improved since the end of WWII.

The battle for power between the U.S., Russia, and even China has not ceased. Instead the conflicts are about subversion, espionage, and even a few proxy conflicts.

History records that Lyndon Johnson was particularly enamored with the idea of war. Not only did LBJ escalate the U.S. involvement in the Viet Nam War, he initiated his infamous "War on Poverty." He won neither. However, in doing so, he introduced the idea of using the term “war” to describe his personal political efforts to enact public policies he favored.  Again we have another example of why we find the use of a Military Prism very functional when reaching opinions regarding most current events.

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