I was thinking about this last night and thought it was a valid question to ask and would be interested in people's opinions.

My initial feelings are yes. I say this even after considering the sheer horror of war. Watching friends die, Insane acts of brutality and unrestricted depravity must be the worst experience anyone can experience. A complete pillaging of the soul.

So how can I say all of that and say that war still has something that redeems it? I think partly because of these horrors. It is because war is so terrible, so efficient at tearing down the thin veneer of civilization that gives it one of its few redeeming features. It is at this point when others are succumbing to madness that some, in fact many, find in them a core of humanity. They have been striped to the bone of all that they thought they were and when they are there they find something that is still human and still good. Bravery, Dignity in the face of Indignity, Camaraderie, Honor, Sacrifice.

And it is in these incidents of battlefield greatness that we who have not gone thru such horrors we are reminded to value life and honor it. We are taught humilityfor the sacrifices of our Brothers and Sisters and our Mothers and Fathers.

I have an interest in Military history and every now and again I read or hear a story that makes me weep. And then I know why war sometimes happens and why we must always try to insure that it never does. For me the story of Chunuk Bair is of particular significance because I feel that it was the defining moment in New Zealand's Nationhood. Perhaps you know of others, I'd like to hear them.

Is any of what I have said mean war is justified? I think not. But I think sometimes we forget the lessons of war and that is when war becomes inevitable. But maybe that is the purpose of war: to remind us of what awaits us if we forget to be human. Maybe you disagree with me but I would like to hear that too.

Reply to Generosity

Heh actually in New Zealand we have one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the developed world. But I think you are on to something we have one of the most brutal games ever - Rugby - as our national sport.
War has terrible consequences, but that doesn't make it evil. Everything has a good side. Without a contrary good there can be no bad, everything is a battle of balances. War is a natural part of the human experience, whether it be a large war, or the kind of turf war you get involved in with your neighbor over the tree that hangs over the fence. There are levels of brutality to be sure, but conflict is important for the natural order. Without conflict evolution is nearly immpossible. So, enough of the wishy-washy philosophy. War has benefits, real tangible benefits.
  • a dramatic increase in technology always accompanies warfare.
  • after a short period of recuperation, the economy of both sides of a conflict eventually picks up for some, extended, period of time after conflict.
  • a reduction in the population, while initially bad helps ease population pressures, especially in the last two to three hundred years.
  • national pride is increased for both the victors and the conqured.
Of course, all of these things can be bad as well. Anything taken to extremes can be a force for ill. Like I said balance is key. I know some of these things seem harsh and cold, but I believe them to be true. It is very popular these days for people to talk about how we should all just get along, that peace is best and that war is never nessasary. Unfortunately, with our population increasing so fast globally, space is quickly becoming a premium and war is more likely now than ever. Life is not idyllic, and there comes a time when you have to face up to reality and understand that occiasionally bad things are needed to have good things.
Does poverty have any reddeming features?, it shows us how good it is, not to be poor. Does sickness have any redeeming features?, it reminds us of the blessings of health. Does child abuse have any redeeming features?, it makes us glad that we can rear children who are unabused.

No I don't buy this line of reasoning. I have no experience of war, nor do I wish to. It is tragic when we loose our humanity. I can't see the great horror of war being a good way to remember our humanity. It is nessecary to remind ourselves that we are human and to cease the killing, else we would extinguish ourselves. So the processes of rediscovery must happen. War is so deeply affecting that it's memory can last in a population for generations, the resentment can remain. Wars end not because people have rediscovered their humanity but because people are too tired, too hungry to kill, are tired of being killed. There might be moments for individuals in the carnage, they realise the sanctity of life, such realisations can be found by looking at the world from outer space, by delivering a child, by seeing someone you love pass away. In all the latter examples the chance for inducing madness, shell shock, the fear of destroying the core of a person through what they have witnessed is far less than on the battle field. That such moments of clarity can be seen by people is a testament to the human will rather than to the glories of camaraderie or the epic of battle.

The First world war had a victor, but the vanquished did not forget their defeat, and the lessons were not learnt. In the north of Ireland the ramifications of pitched street battles still run through the provence 25 years later.

The Balkins have been stewing for almost a thousand years.

War is blood and death and hate and dimemberment, and rape, genocide, the stealing of futures, the disasembling of the past, it is all that is not that which we would have be human, it is a call to terrirory and to thoughtlesness. It is yet inevitable and if there is anything that can redeem it it is the simple fact that we have yet to find a way to end it.

As the saying goes, War is diplomacy conducted through other means. As much as it'd be nice to say there ain't-a going to be war no more, it's probably with us as long as conflict exists, as war is the ultimate means of resolving a conflict - this is not just its redeeming feature, it is why there is war. (As any attempt to reduce conflict by making everyone agree will automatically generate yet more conflict by those who don't want to, the deck is stacked against you from the start, even so.)

That's not to say war can't be perfected. I find the oxymoronic concept of a "humane war" where the only ones killed are the soldiers who signed up to be one worth going towards. Or even a "virtual war" where two parties engage in a fair competition and abide by the results in lieu of actual combat. But, alas, until you can get everyone to agree on this (and we've already noted the futility of THAT) the old standby of mass slaughter is going to be with us in some capacity.

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