What drives wars in a modern society?

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What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby Arthinator » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:13 pm

I was reading an article by Gwynne Dyer (http://gwynnedyer.com/2012/defence-budgets-and-cavemen/) about the nature of defense budgets, security, and how the modern era has changed them. But what I am really wondering is do countries benefit from wars in our modern era, at least in terms of their economies, and how much peace is really maintained between larger powers because of the way the global economy is intertwined.
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby NickDupree » Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:37 pm

What drives wars in a modern society?

Two words: Military Keynesianism

it keeps the economy afloat, makes the world go 'round.

Bottom line is, we've yet to innovate our way out of the Military Keynesianism trap. We simply haven't figured out how to thrive without that big ol' *warfare state* teat.
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby Waleis » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:52 pm

If a nation threatens the well-being of those who run the government, then military force is exercised. Iran, for example, has been toying with the idea of trading the oil in Euros rather than US Dollars. This creates potential profit problems for the elite, and also aligns Iran with China and Russia...our supposed enemies. This is why the war drums have been beating at a fever pitch over the last couple months, for Iran.
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby hondo69 » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:27 am

NickDupree wrote:Bottom line is, we've yet to innovate our way out of the Military Keynesianism trap. We simply haven't figured out how to thrive without that big ol' *warfare state* teat.
There ya go. That's it in a nutshell.

Dating back through history you don't find a whole lot of wars that started because of tangible grievances but rather from perceived grievances instead. Hitler didn't start WWII because Germany had a shortage of land mass, it was more about righting old wrongs in his mind. Lots of wars have started that way.

What about the war in Iraq? Was that started because Saddam was slaughtering his own people by the tens of thousands? Not really. Was it started because Saddam continually ignored UN resolutions. Nah, not so much. What about his stockpile of poison gas and development of nuclear weapons? Getting warmer. But he didn't really take any direct actions against the United States.

It's one thing to build a military to defend our own borders (which we don't do at all), and entirely another to be the world's policman. So at the end of the day each of us has to ask ourselves what exactly is worth going to war over. Are these tangible grievances or merely perceived grievances instead?

Which brings us to a situation like Iran. No one doubts they are developing nuclear weapons and 10 years of diplomacy, santions and dithering leads us to exactly where you would expect it to, a crisis. It would be nice to turn back the clock and undo the bumblings of the Bush and Obama administrations, but time waits for no one. The clock is ticking.

Since their warheads can't yet reach the United States we could take the stance that it's no concern of ours. But there's that whole policeman thing plus our policy with Israel. Guess we need a monster of a military complex for that don't we?

Seems we haven't taken a hard look at all the options to me.
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby boethius » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:46 am

Keynesianism is domestic too:



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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby Atanamis » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:55 am

hondo69 wrote:It's one thing to build a military to defend our own borders (which we don't do at all), and entirely another to be the world's policman. So at the end of the day each of us has to ask ourselves what exactly is worth going to war over. Are these tangible grievances or merely perceived grievances instead?
If we had the money for it, I wouldn't even mind being the world's policeman. The difference between military action and "policing" though is the need for greater care regarding collateral damage. If the goal is survival or to scare invaders into backing off, collateral damage is part of the equation. In WW2, there was massive bombing of civilian populations for this purpose (despite being essentially a terrorism tactic). That isn't policing though. We don't allow police to blow up an apartment complex to get a drug dealer. Establishing a world police force to prevent harm to unwilling victims would be a laudable goal, but that still isn't how we use our military in the US. Establishing a REAL world police force would require a vastly altered training regimen, and be extremely expensive. Policing areas where the population is hostile is high risk even in our own nation, and results in ghettos where even the police are afraid to go. Effective policing really requires tight physical control of the area, or a population that mostly supports your presence and activity. Trying to police in an area where the general population hates you and you have little physical control over the territory doesn't work well. And it is always expensive, even in the best of circumstances. Until we balance our budget, I really can't support even the most humanitarian of world police efforts.
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby TheAmericanNomad » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:26 am

Well, first they tell us there is a threat, you know, like Iraq is about to nuke a city (remember: "we can't wait for the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud") so they get us all riled up for war, which lets them make a war budget, which comes out of our pockets (the tax payer) and into the pockets of war profiteers. It doesn't help our economy as some have said in any way other than keeping a few hundred thousand soldiers and some weapons manufacturers employed, but the vast majority of Americans see no benefit from it and most of the money gets funneled upwards towards the one percent that pushed for the war in the first place.


I recommend you read "war is a racket" by Major General Smedley Butler, the most decorated American soldier (at that time at least, not sure if he still is, he won two congressional medals of honor) he pretty much lays it all out for you, from the perspective of someone who has fought in the wars and has led men into war.

You can get it on kindle for under three bucks, about 5 bucks used on amazon, or you can find the text online for free.
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby Smitty-48 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:46 am

How exactly were the American colonials going to achieve an independent republic if not by armed and organized use of force?

The House of Hanover was in no mood to negotiate, until Lord Cornwallis had his back against the sea, rebels on one side, French fleet on the other.
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby evil muppet » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:54 am

Has anyone ever considered that what is driving war in modern society is advertising?

Doesn't this just make you want to pick up a gun, a few grenades and fuck some shit up?
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby TheAmericanNomad » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:58 am

I thought you guys managed pretty well. :wink:



Nah, I was just thinking about this, about what wars wouldn't have been for profit, I would say that maybe Civil and revolutionary wars are the only ones that aren't motivated by greed. It isn't easy to make a profit when there is fighting literally outside your factory.

But a war in the far off middle east? in far off Europe?

Profits my friend, profits.


In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
--"War is a Racket" By Major General Smedley Butler.
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby Smitty-48 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:03 pm

TheAmericanNomad wrote:I thought you guys managed pretty well. :wink:



Nah, I was just thinking about this, about what wars wouldn't have been for profit, I would say that maybe Civil and revolutionary wars are the only ones that aren't motivated by greed. It isn't easy to make a profit when there is fighting literally outside your factory.

But a war in the far off middle east? in far off Europe?

Profits my friend, profits.


So, WW II was all about profit? No clash of ideologies, or threat from extreme aggressors?

I don't think Poland made any money out of it. The British went broke trying to defend Poland. They could have just let it slide and sold weapons to the Nazis if they wanted profit.

What about the PAF's in the Spanish Civil war? Profit margin, or principle? They weren't Spanish. It was a "Multinational Expeditionary Force".

Would you have preferred to be East German, or West German?

Which Korea would you rather live in?
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby TheAmericanNomad » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:17 pm

Smitty-48 wrote:
TheAmericanNomad wrote:I thought you guys managed pretty well. :wink:



Nah, I was just thinking about this, about what wars wouldn't have been for profit, I would say that maybe Civil and revolutionary wars are the only ones that aren't motivated by greed. It isn't easy to make a profit when there is fighting literally outside your factory.

But a war in the far off middle east? in far off Europe?

Profits my friend, profits.


So, WW II was all about profit? No clash of ideologies, or threat from extreme aggressors?




I don't believe so, no. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that, with the possible exception of Hitler who was a mad man, profits were on everyone else's mind. Mussolini, Hirohito (or at least his handlers) Britain, France, even America. We were all looking for profits.

Many Europeans and American companies made large profits from the rearming of Germany you know.


I have not done the research into WWII like Butler had for WWI, but lets look a little at how WWI was handled by America.

The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.

Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket – and are safely pocketed. Let's just take a few examples:

Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people – didn't one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in the war? They were a patriotic corporation. Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn't much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let's look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.

Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well, their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump – or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!

Or, let's take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000. Not bad.

. . . [he goes on to list similar things for companies that produce things like Nickle, Copper, Munitions etc.]

But here's how some of the other patriotic industrialists and speculators chiseled their way into war profits.

Take the shoe people. They like war. It brings business with abnormal profits. They made huge profits on sales abroad to our allies. Perhaps, like the munitions manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to the enemy. For a dollar is a dollar whether it comes from Germany or from France. But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For instance, they sold Uncle Sam 35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service shoes. There were 4,000,000 soldiers. Eight pairs, and more, to a soldier. My regiment during the war had only one pair to a soldier. Some of these shoes probably are still in existence. They were good shoes. But when the war was over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left over. Bought – and paid for. Profits recorded and pocketed.

There was still lots of leather left. So the leather people sold your Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of McClellan saddles for the cavalry. But there wasn't any American cavalry overseas! Somebody had to get rid of this leather, however. Somebody had to make a profit in it – so we had a lot of McClellan saddles. And we probably have those yet.

Also somebody had a lot of mosquito netting. They sold your Uncle Sam 20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of the soldiers overseas. I suppose the boys were expected to put it over them as they tried to sleep in muddy trenches – one hand scratching cooties on their backs and the other making passes at scurrying rats. Well, not one of these mosquito nets ever got to France!

Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make sure that no soldier would be without his mosquito net, so 40,000,000 additional yards of mosquito netting were sold to Uncle Sam.

There were pretty good profits in mosquito netting in those days, even if there were no mosquitoes in France. I suppose, if the war had lasted just a little longer, the enterprising mosquito netting manufacturers would have sold your Uncle Sam a couple of consignments of mosquitoes to plant in France so that more mosquito netting would be in order.


Airplane and engine manufacturers felt they, too, should get their just profits out of this war. Why not? Everybody else was getting theirs. So $1,000,000,000 – count them if you live long enough – was spent by Uncle Sam in building airplane engines that never left the ground! Not one plane, or motor, out of the billion dollars worth ordered, ever got into a battle in France. Just the same the manufacturers made their little profit of 30, 100, or perhaps 300 per cent.

Undershirts for soldiers cost 14¢[cents] to make and uncle Sam paid 30¢ to 40¢ each for them – a nice little profit for the undershirt manufacturer. And the stocking manufacturer and the uniform manufacturers and the cap manufacturers and the steel helmet manufacturers – all got theirs.

Why, when the war was over some 4,000,000 sets of equipment – knapsacks and the things that go to fill them – crammed warehouses on this side. Now they are being scrapped because the regulations have changed the contents. But the manufacturers collected their wartime profits on them – and they will do it all over again the next time.

There were lots of brilliant ideas for profit making during the war.


One very versatile patriot sold Uncle Sam twelve dozen 48-inch wrenches. Oh, they were very nice wrenches. The only trouble was that there was only one nut ever made that was large enough for these wrenches. That is the one that holds the turbines at Niagara Falls. Well, after Uncle Sam had bought them and the manufacturer had pocketed the profit, the wrenches were put on freight cars and shunted all around the United States in an effort to find a use for them. When the Armistice was signed it was indeed a sad blow to the wrench manufacturer. He was just about to make some nuts to fit the wrenches. Then he planned to sell these, too, to your Uncle Sam.

Still another had the brilliant idea that colonels shouldn't ride in automobiles, nor should they even ride on horseback. One has probably seen a picture of Andy Jackson riding in a buckboard. Well, some 6,000 buckboards were sold to Uncle Sam for the use of colonels! Not one of them was used. But the buckboard manufacturer got his war profit.

The shipbuilders felt they should come in on some of it, too. They built a lot of ships that made a lot of profit. More than $3,000,000,000 worth. Some of the ships were all right. But $635,000,000 worth of them were made of wood and wouldn't float! The seams opened up – and they sank. We paid for them, though. And somebody pocketed the profits.


It has been estimated by statisticians and economists and researchers that the war cost your Uncle Sam $52,000,000,000. Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits. That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way. This $16,000,000,000 profits is not to be sneezed at. It is quite a tidy sum. And it went to a very few.


Emphasis is mine.



Sorry for the long quote, I don't know how else to shorten it down. But a few people make a lot of money off of war, and unsurprisingly they are usually the ones pushing for it.

I have my doubts that any of those companies wanted to join WWII to help the plight of the Jews, or to save France, or any of that shit. If they were worried about that shit they wouldn't have given Hitler guns in the first place.

It is possible that a war gets out of hand, that it becomes something that they can no longer control, and then we have Hitler marching in Paris, but the build up, the war drums, it is all artificial in my mind, even back then.
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby Smitty-48 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:19 pm

I think you are conflating exploitation with intent. The welfare state is actually the basis of the MICC, but you don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water, do you?

I grew up around WW II vets. They weren't naive. They knew who Smedley Butler was. They were children of the Depression. Yet they made it pretty clear that the choices were stark, even if use of force was a terrible choice to have to make.

There is exploitation and profiteering in many endeavors, does that render the endeavor moot? Public healthcare? The space program? The Internet? All sources of profiteering and exploitation, but we don't write them off as simply a profiteering exercise.
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby TheAmericanNomad » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:32 pm

What Welfare state?

I hurt my back last night and can't go to the doctors because my "Welfare State" doesn't provide any kind of health services.

And because my "Welfare State" only puts the minimum wage at $7.25 and I can only find a job marginally higher than that I can't afford to pay for my own insurance.


It is because my "Welfare State" is providing at least a trillion dollars of Welfare a year to war profiteers that I don't have health insurance.



As for the motivation of war, I think there are times where an individual country has no choice in the matter. Poland didn't fight Germany for profits, Iraq didn't fight the U.S. for profits, but Germany did attack Poland for profits (including the profits from increased land and resources from Poland) and the U.S. did attack Iraq for profits.
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Re: What drives wars in a modern society?

Postby Smitty-48 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:34 pm

TheAmericanNomad wrote:

As for the motivation of war, I think there are times where an individual country has no choice in the matter. Poland didn't fight Germany for profits, Iraq didn't fight the U.S. for profits, but Germany did attack Poland for profits (including the profits from increased land and resources from Poland) and the U.S. did attack Iraq for profits.


Actually, the Nazi economic plan was totally unworkable. Guaranteed fail. There were no market forces involved. It was a cult. They were completely irrational.

Hitler didn't give a rats ass about the private sector, in fact, he hated it. He wanted a totally state run closed economy. Plunder is not the same as profit. It is not self sustaining.

Not to mention that WW II was the greatest government stimulus plan in History, sending the US off into space like a rocket... literally. The pursuit of profit made it self sustaining.

WWII took Americans from the gutter, to one of the highest standards of living in the history of the world.

War is the ultimate change agent. "Creative destruction". Shakes things up.
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