Throughout history, there has scarcely been a single day without any conflict taking place somewhere in the world. Wars were started over everything from religion, notably the Crusades, wealth and territorial gain, to even a dispute over a bucket once in medieval Italy!
Thankfully, particularly in much of the western world, wars have now become less of an omnipresent aspect of daily life than they were a few centuries ago. At least partly, this development can be attributed to increased globalization and interdependence between countries, resulting from solid trading partnerships, diplomatic relations, and the movement of people. Consequently, government distrust and paranoia about other nations have faded, paving the way for lasting peace.
However, despite direct confrontation between rival powers having become increasingly rare, many forms of conflict still persist. During the Cold War, this took the form of proxy wars between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, for example, and Korea and Vietnam, with each side aiming to expand their global influence at the expense of the other.
Another common motive for conflict in recent decades has been that of regime change and stabilization, particularly in the Middle East. Yet in practice, these wars fail to achieve the desired outcome of stabilization, all the while squandering extraordinary amounts of taxpayers’ money, causing sustained misery in the regions affected by conflict and resulting in tragically high levels of casualties, both military and civilian.
Economic factors for opposing war
It has often been said that war is good for the economy. In reality, war may be good for a very small section of the economy, namely the military industrial complex and special interest groups.
In truth, war dislocates a true capitalist market, halting progress, with output geared towards mass production of destruction, not true creation. For example, the resources to produce a tractor, which can be used repeatedly, instead go to make rocket propelled grenades, which are single use. War destroys infrastructure and necessitates rebuilding.
Some will argue that the private sector has flourished in certain domains, with outside contractors being used to provide building, security and other militaristic services. However, this cannot be considered as genuine, free capitalism when it is the government dictating, controlling, and allocating the contracts.
Often, government raises taxes, borrows money, and even prints more, to fund their defence budget. In the past, governments have nationalized industries, set controls on prices, and even wages, which are interventions that become difficult to reverse in peacetime.
In modern times, war usually is of little or no economic benefit to those countries involved and arises out of geopolitical scaremongering.
Moral factors for opposing war
War produces, first and foremost, loss of life and misery on a massive scale. Huge losses of the world population occurred during World War One, leaving countries like Serbia, for example, with somewhere between 16 and 27 percent of their total population wiped out.
Numerous conflicts have been fought for reasons impossible to justify. For instance, take the many wars of colonial conquest, which saw indigenous populations decimate over time, not to mention all of their resources, which were also plundered.
Horror and degradation inflicted upon soldiers and civilians alike have been widespread throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century. Modern warfare significantly impacts civilians, both on and near the battlegrounds, and often even those who are nowhere near the conflict.
This is legalized, state-run activity that can create an atmosphere of fear, distrust and blind obedience. Historical examples include the bombing of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, while more recently, drone strikes in the Middle East also illustrate this.
Conscription of all able-bodied adults is another prospect that can be expected if a country goes to war. Theoretically, conscription only exists in a few countries, such as Israel and Russia. In most cases, it is the economically disadvantaged who are conscripted first. Conscription is a form of state-imposed slavery. The National Service is another such form of state imposition, which can occur even during peacetime.
War creates a vilified enemy, which then engenders distrust, and even hatred of foreigners. The cruel treatment of people with German descent in the UK during the World Wars, or the treatment of Japanese Americans in the US during World War Two, both highlight this problematic attitude.
Although it is normal for a country to defend itself from invasion, military action should only be used as a last resort, and preferably supported by a democratic mandate. In this nuclear age, the response should always be carefully moderated according to the severity of the threat being faced. Part of any costing of war should be that there are no resulting civilian casualties, but it is doubtful whether any wars would ever meet this criterion.
War is a manifestation of state or , which has now permeated many aspects of daily life, from the monitoring of internet use for terror threats, to the inhibition of travel with security checks and other infringements carried out on our personal liberty. Often governments do not serve the best interests of the people they are supposedly representing and protecting.
Why opposing war matters to SFL
Our core values at Students For Liberty are peace, love and liberty. Therefore, we believe that conflict should be avoided as much as possible, with the only exception being as a last resort in defense of liberty. We believe that this can be achieved by promoting global interdependence through diplomacy, cooperation, and free trade, which serve to render military conflicts significantly less likely.
Alongside its obvious casualties, war invariably impedes trade, hinders economic development, and results in a loss of individual liberty, thus being completely contrary to all that we believe.