War: What’s It Good For?

War: What’s It Good For?

Presenter: John Pope

November, 2013

A definition:
“War is an organized and often prolonged conflict that is carried out by states or non-state actors. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, social disruption, and economic destruction.” -The Free Dictionary.com Canada’s war history: Wikipedia has an excellent summary of Canada’s military history:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_Canada Canada was ready to join a US led war on Syria.  Here is how Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird saw Canada’s role:  www.ctvnews.ca/canada/is-canada-going-to-war-in-syria-here-s-what-our-military-could-do-1.1431117 Canada’s ally, the US, is historically one of the world’s most militaristic states, and has been engaged in military conflict with other nations more often in its history than it has been at peace. The US was not in conflicts for only 21 years, mostly non-consecutive, since 1789.  www.globalpolicy.org/us-military-expansion-and-intervention/26024.html. 19 Countries that the US has bombed since WWII (some more than once):
China 1945-46, Korea 1950-53, China 1950-53, Guatemala 1954, Indonesia 1958, Cuba 1950-53, Guatemala 1960, Congo 1964, Peru 1965, Laos 1964-73, Vietnam 1961-73, Cambodia 1969-70, Guatemala 1967-69, Grenada 1983, Libya 1986, El Salvador 1980’s, Nicaragua 1980’s, Panama 1989, Iraq 1991, Sudan 1998, Afghanistan 1998, Yugoslavia 1999, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003, Pakistan 2009 This list does not include drone attacks. (If you think all this bombing was for the purpose of bringing freedom and democracy, think again: NOT ONE of these countries turned into democracies after the bombing)

Take a war facts quiz (answers available at the Cafe):

1. How many major wars have there been in the world since World War II?
2. How many people have been killed in wars since World War II?
3. What percentage of civilians have been killed as a result of wars since 1945?
4. How many children have been killed in wars in the last decade?
5. How many children are estimated to have been forced to become soldiers and are now serving in armies and insurgent groups around the world?
6. How many people are are killed or maimed by landmines every year?
7. What percentage of landmine victims are civilians?
8. About how many landmines are buried in the ground around the world?
9. About how many nuclear warheads exist around the world today?
10. How much does the world spend on the military per year?

Questions to ponder:

Is war inevitable?

We have overcome dueling and slavery, but will we ever overcome war?

How often does the initial rationale for going to war become realized when the war is over?

Are democratic states more or less likely to go to war than autocratic states?

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