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Started by Tinymcsmithy on Sep 10, 2021 10:34:10 AM
Good wars?

A ridiculous title of course and probably much to do with perception and one’s views on conflict in general. I mean, all wars are bad.

But I was thinking about WW2 and the Spanish Civil War as perhaps the last wars with clear cut ‘good versus bad’ overall aims. Perhaps even the only ‘modern’ (or any?) wars that could claim that.

Um… please discuss.

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Tinymcsmithy - 10 Sep 2021 10:37:16 (#1 of 320)

Perhaps it’s all more complicated now (or was it always)?

I was thinking about the Kurds and their attempts at a homeland perhaps. But the war itself is a huge mess and the alliances, factions and motivations are many.

Moschops - 10 Sep 2021 11:00:06 (#2 of 320)

Gulf War I was at least a reaction to the invasion of a sovereign state by another, though obviously the oil leant another angle to it.

Agaliarept - 10 Sep 2021 11:03:42 (#3 of 320)

But I was thinking about WW2

Lots of civilian casualties in WWII. Definitely a noble cause but I think it gets the rose coloured glasses treatment when in fact it was fought in quite a terrible way that led to consequences in Europe and the world that still rumble on today.

Though saying that I have read the North Africa campaign (Rommel and Montgomery) was 'pure war' as it was just two armys fighting with very little civilian involvement.

TheExcession - 10 Sep 2021 11:05:00 (#4 of 320)

The Eastern Front was hell on earth and fought between two of the worst regimes ever to exist in human history.

Atticus - 10 Sep 2021 11:07:25 (#5 of 320)

The Somalian, Sierra Leone and Balkan military interventions (though only Kosovo was open war) were somewhat good vs bad but also mismanaged as vital interests were not on the line so efforts were half-hearted.

Korea was, like GW1, am attempt by one state to gobble up another.

Also the Falklands War was a clear cut just war with a country defending itself against unwarranted attack.

Atticus - 10 Sep 2021 11:09:13 (#6 of 320)

...and many of the National Liberation Wars were just in terms of overthrowing colonial oppression even if the Liberators were often as dodgy as the Empires.

Lento_ - 10 Sep 2021 11:10:57 (#7 of 320)

When judging this we might have to separate out the aims of the war being good or bad vs the actual execution of it being good or bad.

Tinymcsmithy - 10 Sep 2021 11:26:22 (#8 of 320)

I’ve kind of assumed that civilians get fucked over in all wars in my intro. Sure, there are pure genocidal wars that are worse, but even the most ‘noble’ military objectives (and increasingly so with modern warfare) kill civilians.

Tinymcsmithy - 10 Sep 2021 11:31:49 (#9 of 320)

Gulf War 1 was all about oil. The US don’t do humanitarian intervention.

I suppose we could include liberation struggles - national or otherwise.

The Sandinistas perhaps? Angola? The Makhnovists who fought both the capitalists and communists in Russia?

Tinymcsmithy - 10 Sep 2021 11:40:41 (#10 of 320)

When judging this we might have to separate out the aims of the war being good or bad vs the actual execution of it being good or bad.



Von Clausewitz called war "the continuation of politics with other means." An extension of policy or negotiation basically. I also have a memory of Marx adapting that to ‘continuation of commerce by other means’. But i could be wrong.

I wonder if ‘good wars’ are those that don’t come under those banners?

Arjuna - 10 Sep 2021 11:42:56 (#11 of 320)

There are definitely wars when it is possible to say I am really glad our side won

TheExcession - 10 Sep 2021 11:48:39 (#12 of 320)

Indeed. The thought of the Nazi regime being allowed to continue to exist - even if we'd fought them off - is too terrible to contemplate given what they were up to.

Atticus - 10 Sep 2021 11:56:28 (#13 of 320)

Picking up on the last two points maybe one criteria should be what would/could have happened in the war had not been fought or lost by those who actually won.

If Saddam is not defeated in GW1 you have an extremely aggressive little empire willing and able to gobble up the Gulf States and with massive leverage, due to oil now controlled, while aiming to build nuclear weapons and ultimately face off with Israel and Iran.

GyratingTrampoline - 10 Sep 2021 12:20:23 (#14 of 320)

But since we never know what would've happened if a war had never started or had ended in a different way then we can never really know whether a war made things better or worse.

For example my pet theory is that the use of nuclear weapons in ww2 had the effect of creating the taboo against further use of nuclear weapons which has so far held. It could be that without ww2 nuclear weapons would have been developed a bit later, maybe by more than one side at once, and there could've been a far more catastrophic nuclear war.

Although in general, given the untestability of any alternate history, its probably fair to assume that all wars make things worse

Tinymcsmithy - 10 Sep 2021 12:27:04 (#15 of 320)

Yep, the Nazi regime had to be wiped out. No suing for peace nonsense.

Obviously the allies did plenty of questionable things - Dresden, Hiroshima. And those arguments are perpetual.

But back to the financial political motivations - WW2 was financially not much good for Britain. More a matter of survival, moral/political motivation and also driven partially by Churchill’s peculiarities.

Spain was about Democracy and revolution versus fascism and capitalism.

A few other liberation wars.

But other than that, it’s been nation states grabbing resources and territory, or more local genocidal conflicts.

mingmong - 10 Sep 2021 12:30:58 (#16 of 320)

A rather peevish and demented-sounding Blair on the radio this morning, still insisting he was right to play little drummer-boy to the US neoconservative wars of choice in the 2000s.

I didn't have the heart (or the stomach) to listen to more than few seconds.

Tinymcsmithy - 10 Sep 2021 12:31:09 (#17 of 320)

But since we never know what would've happened if a war had never started or had ended in a different way then we can never really know whether a war made things better or worse.



True.

I suppose I’m more interested in the motivation of the wars. I think. But wars and its participants’ motivations are rarely that easy to dissect and interpret.

Atticus - 10 Sep 2021 12:32:40 (#18 of 320)

#14

Good point.

Tinymcsmithy - 10 Sep 2021 12:32:58 (#19 of 320)

Caught a few seconds of a rather peevish-sounding Blair, still insisting he was right to play little drummer-boy to the US neoconservative wars of choice of the 2000s.



Blair is part of the most dangerous group of leaders. A true believer waiting for the rapture to come and sort it all out.

FrankieTeardrop - 10 Sep 2021 11:38:41 (#20 of 320)

I see war as an absolute wrong. The damage it does is immense, not just to those fighting in it, but to future generations through things like PTSD.

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