An End to War: Don’t get even, get MAD
My last post was a lengthy attempt to explain how the two World Wars changed Europeans’ philosophy, making another major European war unlikely.
In this post I will propose a shorter, simpler explanation.
It’s all about technology.
Before World War One, the logistics of transportation and supply did not allow for large armies to take the field. From the First World War on, each major combatant was able to send millions to war, greatly expanding the amount of casualties possible. Combined with new weapons like poison gas and machine guns, this meant war killed more soldiers, faster than ever before.
People had second thoughts about going to war.
World War Two brought the carnage home with massive fleets of powerful bombers. Going to war meant not only risking the lives of millions of young men, but also the entire infrastructure, economy, government, indeed the entire civilian population- every man, woman and child was in danger of the rain of steel and fire.
The benefits of winning a war have stayed relatively constant over history; indeed, they have diminished as the structure of the economy makes plunder relatively less lucrative. But the cost of losing, and the cost of fighting at all no matter the outcome, have risen dramatically.
“Total” war, where everyone is a target, means war isn’t a very good deal. People really started to look for other ways to solve problems.
Then came the Cold War, when both sides had large nuclear arsenals. Now not only were soldiers bound to be killed, not only were the civilians of the combatants afraid of being bombed; now those who would start a war were forced to consider the possibility that they might annihilate the entire human race.
Major European wars, where both sides possessed weapons of such power, became really bad ideas.
People changed their philosophies, morals, and world-views as necessary to ensure their continued survival.
Now Europeans sort out political issues by arguing in Brussels, and reserve their aggression for soccer riots.
The atomic world is a bright one after all.