“The day for progress by force has passed,” he explained. From now on, “it will be progress by ideas or not at all.”
He wrote these words in 1910. One politician after another lined up to praise the book. Four years later, the same men started World War I. By 1918, they had killed 15 million people; by 1945, the death toll from two world wars had passed 100 million and a nuclear arms race had begun. In 1983, U.S. war games suggested that an all-out battle with the Soviet Union would kill a billion people — at the time, one human in five — in the first few weeks. And today, a century after the beginning of the Great War, civil war is raging in Syria, tanks are massing on Ukraine’s borders and a fight against terrorism seems to have no end.
So yes, war is hell — but have you considered the alternatives? When looking upon the long run of history, it becomes clear that through 10,000 years of conflict, humanity has created larger, more organized societies that have greatly reduced the risk that their members will die violently. These better organized societies also have created the conditions for higher living standards and economic growth. War has not only made us safer, but richer, too.
Here’s a pretty thought provoking piece. I have a few quibbles, especially with his points regarding Reagan at the end (Reagan may well have been pro-small government, but he was clearly not for a weak government or foreign policy).