Split thread - How/why/when did War lose its lustre?

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Vergina Sun
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Split thread - How/why/when did War lose its lustre?

Post by Vergina Sun »

Theseus wrote:Paralus, you have listed some very brave men indeed!
Believe me, I know that other generals/Kings did the same as Alexander and faced their enemies head on. I have read of Pelopidas and he is one of my favorites. :D
Let's not forget King Leonidas as well. Whether you like Spartans or not what he and his men did was very heroic. So many leaders showed bravery even when faced with odds that were truly not in their favor.
I agree. Such bravery should be admired and remembered. I once read somewere that we shall always remember the ancient battles and the men who fought in them because there was no greater glory at the time. At what point did the luster of war fade? We hardly hear of any amazing generals or commanders. Is it because popular media overshadows them, or have people just lost interest in war? Further yet, should the loss of interest in war by the main population be held as a good thing?
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Post by rocktupac »

I think what kick-started the negative outlook on war began with the Enlightenment. Although I'm sure the people of that time consciously didn't know what they were doing, because warfare certainly continued to be glorified even long after the Enlightenment, but they definitely sewed the seeds of discontent for the brutality of war.

To add to that, colonialism contributed its great share of resentment towards war. Again this really didn't take effect until long after colonialism inflicted its damage. But the people saw what war could do to different groups of people as a 'race' and not simply me versus my enemy.

When I believe the West, or at least the United States and Europe, started to really view war as awful and nothing but destructive was after the outcome of World War I. Once called the Great War, the brutality and horror was on a scale that had never been really felt (or documented so) by the model-country that was America. Since then, and with the second World War and of course Vietnam, war has quickly turned into something to detest. It's role is not something for achieving glory but just the opposite. When human life and individual rights became valued, warfare, which destroys both, became an unnecessary evil used only as a last resort and even then is it still deplorable.
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Post by alejandro »

Hi there,

Interesting thread.
I guess one of the reasons war lost its "glamour" :? is that citizens now realize that most of the times the goals of the leaders are more mundane (oil, new markets, etc) than the ones they claim to fight for (freedom, democracy, etc). Of course, those goals were part of all wars, so old warriors were not necessarily better than current ones, but maybe people then were more gullible. At the same time, they didn't have access to tv or internet, so they may have been just ill-informed. Maybe that's why they expected leaders to be in the first line of every fight: it showed commitment, or at least the willingness to risk their own safety and life for their goals, whatever they may be.
I think that nowadays we need a system similar to the one used in Ancient Greece, namely, only those who will fight in it are allowed to decide whether to wage war or not. I'm pretty sure that most politicians that support wars would change their minds if they were to risk their own skins. In fact, I read that most of the sons of American senators were dispensed of going to Iraq. That's patriotism! :roll:
Just my thoughts though.

All the best,
Alejandro
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Post by Theseus »

I have thought a lot about what you have said Vergina Sun. You are right that the wars fought more recently have lacked the courage and passion that used to exist. I think part of it is hand to hand combat is not used as often because they have all of these weapons that use technology to hit their target. In WW I and II the men fought bravely as well, but there has been a huge change in our lifetime in how wars are fought. Why take the chance of a human being harmed when technology can do the trick? We have friends serving in Afghanistan and Iraq right now and I am in no way taking anything away from them because they are risking their lives for freedom and are brave to be there. I have to say that the way people of Alexander's time , before and after fought is still so incredible to me. It was a big part of their lives back then, their way of life I guess. What would those great generals and kings from back then think of the world now? :shock:
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Post by Semiramis »

alejandro wrote: At the same time, they didn't have access to tv or internet, so they may have been just ill-informed.
Alejandro,

Excellent post again. I know that TV and internet are keeping me well-informed on Paris Hilton's hangnail, but not so sure about the ongoing wars. I thought the following quotes could be relevant to the discussion -

From Joseph Goebbels, German Minister of Propaganda, 1933-1945:

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

"It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion."

Nazi Reichmarshall Hermann Goering -

“Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

“Of course people don’t want war. Why should a poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best thing he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?"

Take care

Semiramis :)
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Post by karen »

Suggestion to moderators: split this thread before the first post talking about war losing its "glamour" and make that and the subsequent posts into a new thread on that topic.

Best,
Karen
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Post by Semiramis »

rocktupac wrote:I think what kick-started the negative outlook on war began with the Enlightenment. Although I'm sure the people of that time consciously didn't know what they were doing, because warfare certainly continued to be glorified even long after the Enlightenment, but they definitely sewed the seeds of discontent for the brutality of war.

To add to that, colonialism contributed its great share of resentment towards war. Again this really didn't take effect until long after colonialism inflicted its damage. But the people saw what war could do to different groups of people as a 'race' and not simply me versus my enemy.

When I believe the West, or at least the United States and Europe, started to really view war as awful and nothing but destructive was after the outcome of World War I. Once called the Great War, the brutality and horror was on a scale that had never been really felt (or documented so) by the model-country that was America. Since then, and with the second World War and of course Vietnam, war has quickly turned into something to detest. It's role is not something for achieving glory but just the opposite. When human life and individual rights became valued, warfare, which destroys both, became an unnecessary evil used only as a last resort and even then is it still deplorable.
rocktupac,

This thread has certainly inspired some great posts including yours. :) Post Enlightenment, the Romantic period seemed to glorify both war and nationalism. Empire, race theory also being part of the movement. Before WWI there was certainly a strong movement in Europe that saw war as "glorious" and even necessary.

Perhaps the mechanization of war with guns, tanks, mustard gas etc in WWI contrubuted to the abhorrence or war. Not just because it is less "manly" to kill that way, but also because the killings were just so efficient. Perhaps the writings of front line soldiers like Erich Maria Remarque and Wilfred Owens were infleuntial on public opinion?

Post WWII - Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, the gas chambers, the aerial firebombing of civilian population centres such as Dresden, Hiroshima etc. - even Alexander scholarship took a U turn. Badian's portrayal of the megalomaniac dictator certainly differs from Tarn's civilizing conquerer.

There are studies which show that in WWII, far fewer were killed in face to face combat with guns than the amount expected given the "efficiency" of guns. The conclusion was soldiers deliberately missed the "enemies" as they were too human. During the training of soldiers for the Vietnam war, this was taken into account. The viewing of the "enemy" as a mere "target" rather than a human being was reinforced. Due to the effective suppression of thought by this type of training, sometimes the exact magnitude of their actions would dawn on the soldiers years later, which was far from easy to deal with psychologically.

Take care

Semiramis
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Post by amyntoros »

karen wrote:Suggestion to moderators: split this thread before the first post talking about war losing its "glamour" and make that and the subsequent posts into a new thread on that topic.
Unlike some other forums we've never been rigid about "staying on topic" because of not wanting to interupt the natural flow of a debate (and the old format used to allow sub-topics within a thread), but I admit that here is an instance where a split would be beneficial because no one would expect to find a discussion about war under this heading. :) However, the posts on war and "glamour' flowed from a discussion of Darius in battle. So, should the thread be split earlier? Or split into three threads? And how about suggestions for suitable subject headers?

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Post by Paralus »

I do think it would benefit by a split. The war and its reasons subject is quite interesting but has little to do with the original subject.

A subject name? The valour, imperialism and economics of war in Ancient Greece.

I, of course, would warm to such a topic - wherefore I suggest it! It has currently ranged over several war topics and so should be let ramble. To limit it strictly to Alexander would be, I think, to condem it to revisiting the old chestnuts of civiliser/Helleniser and murderer et al.
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Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Post by karen »

I have a lengthy post in progress about why war is considered more horrible now than it used to be, so I naturally want that topic to have a distinct thread and name. How about "When did war lose its lustre?" The preceding one could be "Darius: deserter or deserted?"

Warmly,
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Post by Paralus »

Deserted...Guagamela.
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Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Post by amyntoros »

Paralus wrote:I do think it would benefit by a split. The war and its reasons subject is quite interesting but has little to do with the original subject.

A subject name? The valour, imperialism and economics of war in Ancient Greece.

I, of course, would warm to such a topic - wherefore I suggest it! It has currently ranged over several war topics and so should be let ramble. To limit it strictly to Alexander would be, I think, to condem it to revisiting the old chestnuts of civiliser/Helleniser and murderer et al.
Slight misunderstanding; methinks, because in mentioning "staying on topic" I wasn't referring to keeping the focus on Alexander alone but on the subject of the thread. :) And although Alexander hasn't received much truck in this war topic to date I do think that that the subject is relevant and potentially enlightening in that we live in a modern society replete with people strongly opposed to wars of conquest (and/or wars of any kind). This topic might therefore eventually suggest reasons why we allow ourselves to be fascinated by a conqueror supreme.

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Post by alejandro »

Semiramis wrote:I know that TV and internet are keeping me well-informed on Paris Hilton's hangnail, but not so sure about the ongoing wars.
Excellent point. Though I am more inclined to believe that the information IS there, it’s just that many times WE are not interested in looking for it. But even in China you have bloggers talking about their oppressed lives and wouldn’t be surprised if there were also blogs from women in Islamic countries that expressed their suffering. That I don’t feel like looking for them tells much about my selfishness, and I admit it: since I am not in that situation and it doesn’t affect me, then I don’t care. Sad but true. :(
Also, I totally agree that propaganda can be a problem (going back to the “us” against “them” and the “thoughtcrime” topics covered in other threads), but with the internet you can now see, say, both Al-Jazeera and CNN, and note that there is not “one truth” but several versions. I think this is already an improvement.
Semiramis wrote:Goering: “Of course people don’t want war. Why should a poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best thing he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?"
Indeed. That’s why I suggested that leading from the front was a “must” then. The tradition of fighting in the frontline may have started as a way to give those farmers an incentive to fight.
Amyntoros wrote:I do think that that the subject is relevant and potentially enlightening in that we live in a modern society replete with people strongly opposed to wars of conquest (and/or wars of any kind). This topic might therefore eventually suggest reasons why we allow ourselves to be fascinated by a conqueror supreme.
A very interesting thought, and one that I entertained myself a couple of times.
I guess that for me Alexander is the “conqueror supreme” because, first and foremost, he conquered himself: his pains, his fears, etc. (despite the fact they took over in some cases with tragic consequences, e.g., Kleitos’ death). The actual conquest of the known world was just the manifestation of that self-conquest, and in different situations would have taken a different form (say, he would have become an “entrepreneur supreme” in the current times or a “scientist supreme” in the Renaissance, and so on). I know that this may just be a rationalisation intended to defend my liking this guy (“hero”) that killed many people but …

All the best,
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Post by Semiramis »

alejandro wrote:But even in China you have bloggers talking about their oppressed lives and wouldn’t be surprised if there were also blogs from women in Islamic countries that expressed their suffering.
I guess another issue we have to face with the information explosion is that people tend to find the information the conforms to their world view and ignore the information that doesn't. Our media or even we as individuals tend to pay a lot more attention to other individuals that confirm our stereotypes. Say for example of Communists or Muslims. Spare a thought for those of us who have to battle these stereotypes on a regular basis. ;)

Best

Semiramis
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Regarding War

Post by sikander »

Greetings,

I have often considered this topic; here is my two cents:

Unfortunately, I am not convinced war has truly lost its lustre so much as
1) leaders have lost the ability to sustain/ "sell" war to those who actually survive through them
2) governments or churches or the dominant groups cannot hide the underlying motivation or the end results of war so well due to greater access to information
3) people are beginning to feel the impact of wars even if they are not in the direct line of fire due to technology, massive weaponry and the nuclear potential

But War in and of itself still can *seem* "a glorius call". Initially, the roll of drums, the smell of gunpowder, the roar of cannons and the promise of glory and the admiration of your fellow countrymen, whether in a patriotic flash of colour or a religious call to holy war ( from any side) can still appeal to people in the first throes of a cause, as can the simple idea of *Winning*.. to be the "man on top" still holds much appeal.. I know men who still think of their days in World War II as "the greatest time of my life, the time I felt most alive". I know warriors today who experience that brotherhood of arms when they wear a uniform, stand as one,perceiving themselves as the first line of defense for their country, beliefs, culture, race, whatever...

It is easy to sell the glory of battle, the power, the exhiliration, that overwhelming sense of excitement and frenzy..

Yes, there are always some people who see the truth ahead of others, but they are mocked as cowards, traitors or unbelievers....

It is only when the truth rises out of the dust- that lives are shattered and children orphaned and families bereft and land made barren- that people begin to examine the cause and cost of war.
It is only when the farmer whose land is lit with the bonfires of an army realizes his son is dead, his daughter ruined, his fields wasted that he begins to wonder.It is only when the farmer whose land is not in the war zone receives a message that his son is dead that he begins to wonder whether the prize is worth the cost.. It is only when both farmers realize that the people who led them into war have neither suffered nor risked lives, limbs or land that they begin to question.

In the past, women wept but men marched to war, either to protect their lands or gain more lands. The result appeared to be greater wealth (at least for the leaders), wider commerce (especially for the ruling classes) and more opportunity and land (at least for those wealthy enough to use or obtain it). Because the "winners" did not have to deal with the full cost to those who lost loved ones, war seemed glorius indeed.

Today, men and women march to war,but it is harder to sustain the tale that we are protecting our lands, religions, people etc since most wars now seem wars of aggression rather than defense. It is harder to sustain that we are gaining more land, since we know that one mans "gain" is another man's lost border.
But the result still seems to be greater wealth (at least for the leaders), wider commerce (especially for the ruling classes) and more opportunity and land (at least for those wealthy enough to use or obtain it).

But because the "winners" now have to confront a world with access to the reality of war for those who fight and those who survive (both behind the front lines and between them), the full cost and the truth of war makes wars seem less glorius to those called to fight them.

Sadly, war has not lost its lustre: it has simply lost its sustainability. Yet again and again, the war drums sound, the charismatic leader raises his fist, sword or holy text and like monkey tribes, humans rise to the call..

Regards,
Sikander
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