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Conspiracies, war and modern IR

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Melchior
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#61

Posted 28 March 2012 - 08:05 AM

QUOTE (sivispacem @ Wednesday, Mar 28 2012, 17:04)
QUOTE (Melchior @ Wednesday, Mar 28 2012, 06:51)
QUOTE (sivispacem @ Tuesday, Dec 27 2011, 21:52)
QUOTE (GrandMaster Smith @ Tuesday, Dec 27 2011, 09:45)
Like what's this war going to get us? Cheaper gas? What good is cheap gas going to us when the dollar crashes and loses all it's value??

Well, in what ways have wars benefited us in the past? Lets see, we've got modern mechanisation, industrial processes, computers, the internet and long-distance communication, satellite technology, nuclear power, air transport, trauma medicine, radioisotope cancer treatments and other branches of nuclear medicine, composite materials, fire-resistant fibres like Nomex and Kevlar, personal protection equipment, scuba diving, space exploration and artificial organs as direct results of either military research or direct military confrontation. The sad irony is that, for all the cancer deaths and the huge gap in spending that you mentioned before, nuclear medicine- made possible only by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki- has probably saved more lives than anything else when it comes to cancer treatment.

It's not inaccurate to say that war leads to discovery, but it's certainly anachronistic. Maybe when global superpowers were at each other's throats and war was an urgent affair, but you can't suggest that this is still the case in the modern world - resources are no longer being desperately poured into solving conflicts.

Conflict amd the potential of conflict still drives innovation. Just look at the incredible advances in artificial limb technology and the treatment of serious trauma brought on by the use of IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whats anachronistic about that? What about the development of semi-autonomous UAVs, which are now finding their way into civilian use? Just because there is no (obvious) superpower stand-off doesn't mean conflict no longer drives innovation. You should look into the work BAE are doing on things like electromagnetic weapons (with a potential dual use in STOL propultion and reusable space launches or non-lethal/non-crippling weapons which can be used in thehumane stunning of animals for slaughter or medical purposes.

But we no longer pour all of our resources into war, it's less... urgent, since there's not really a threat to us these days. Obviously things created for military purposes find their way into helping us in our every day lives, that's a given and I wouldn't reasonably suggest that war gives us nothing - but we aren't really stagnating in terms of innovation as much as we used to, people seeking money or acclaim or status or whatever seems to drive innovation just fine, so you can't really use it as an argument to say that war is necessary.

3niX
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#62

Posted 28 March 2012 - 03:37 PM

Well...

QUOTE
since there's not really a threat to us these days

That is utterly incorrect, regardlesss of what you might think or hope.

QUOTE
so you can't really use it as an argument to say that war is necessary

Yeah, but that wasnt really the point, was it?
War isnt justifiable purely by the developments it brings (you need a couple more solid catalysts for that)... however, it can be considered as a positive side-effect. Conflicts by their nature bring about huge progress (Id dare say that its research and development on steroids) because you are directly competing against another mans skill and wisdom with a lot at stake. In order to win, you must have roughly equivalent or better tools. Without competition you get stagnation because theres no incentive to be better.

In that sense, progress and conflict are inherently intertwined. Im not saying that progress doesnt happen without conflict (because clearly it does), just that it is significantly slower and more prone to errors and inefficiencies.

Yes, wars are bad from a humanitarian standpoint (though even that can be arguable) but we cant really say that wars arent necessary. Whether you understand and agree with the reasons is beyond the matter at this point.

Melchior
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#63

Posted 28 March 2012 - 08:50 PM

QUOTE (3niX @ Thursday, Mar 29 2012, 01:37)
That is utterly incorrect, regardlesss of what you might think or hope.

There are no urgent threats to us. There's small scale terrorism and threats to some individual's financial interests, but by and large national sovereignty in the west isn't at stake.

QUOTE
Yeah, but that wasnt really the point, was it?
War isnt justifiable purely by the developments it brings (you need a couple more solid catalysts for that)... however, it can be considered as a positive side-effect.

It was his response to someone saying war isn't worth cheap gas, so I think that was the point, and I wouldn't argue that it has no positive side effects.

QUOTE
you are directly competing against another mans skill and wisdom with a lot at stake.

Yes, and I've already explained that it's no longer such an urgent affair, war no longer gets full national attention and priority over resources.

sivispacem
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#64

Posted 28 March 2012 - 09:10 PM

QUOTE (Melchior @ Wednesday, Mar 28 2012, 21:50)
QUOTE (3niX @ Thursday, Mar 29 2012, 01:37)
That is utterly incorrect, regardlesss of what you might think or hope.

There are no urgent threats to us. There's small scale terrorism and threats to some individual's financial interests, but by and large national sovereignty in the west isn't at stake.

Urgency is also very much subjective. Also, discussion of "us" is unhelpful as it doesn't define exactly who you're referring to. The (conventional) West? That's certainly the implication, but there are plenty of nations whose sovereignty and survival is every bit as under threat as it was in 1962- in some cases, even more so. The implication here is that innovation is a solely Western creation, and the fact that we're not currently in a state of unlimited war represents evidence that conflict does not lead to technological advancement. However, what's interesting is that nations that are militarising or remaining at high levels of military readiness- Israel, China (both People's Republic and Republic of/Taiwan) and India are all developing global innovations and technological enhancements which ride on the back of their militarisation. Even if you were to ignore this, by what measure are the threats to the West any less urgent now than they were during the Cold War? We (the West) have (has) armed forces personnel deployed operationally in larger numbers than at just about any point during the entirety of the Cold War, with the exceptions of Vietnam and possibly the Falklands. Was Vietnam a conflict about "urgent threats" or "sovereignty (of Western nations"?

QUOTE (Melchior @ Wednesday, Mar 28 2012, 21:50)
It was his response to someone saying war isn't worth cheap gas, so I think that was the point, and I wouldn't argue that it has no positive side effects.

I was merely pointing out that reducing conflict to such ludicrous trivialities for the sake of trying to simplify an incredibly complex argument is extremely unhelpful.

3niX
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#65

Posted 28 March 2012 - 10:11 PM

Well...

QUOTE
There are no urgent threats to us. There's small scale terrorism and threats to some individual's financial interests, but by and large national sovereignty in the west isn't at stake.

Prospect of a direct confrontation in the next couple of years and relative safety are still two different things. I wouldnt say that there is a lack of threat these days (though Im inclined to agree that the situation is probably more stable than some decades ago).
QUOTE
It was his response to someone saying war isn't worth cheap gas, so I think that was the point, and I wouldn't argue that it has no positive side effects.

I agree that just one resource isnt worth a war. However, wars are rarely born from a single catalyst because the benefits of a conflict have to outweigh the costs. War definitely isnt worth cheap gas... but lets face it... getting cheap gas as a result of a (relatively inevitable) conflict isnt that bad of a prospect.

QUOTE
Yes, and I've already explained that it's no longer such an urgent affair, war no longer gets full national attention and priority over resources.

Depends on which nations viewpoint you are using. To Norway or Denmark it might not be such an urgent affair (at the moment)... but Im sure Israelis (or Georgians for that matter) would care to disagree with you. And Israel is a relatively good example because its technological advancements in recent times have been quite significant in my opinion (as is expected when their R&D spending relative to their GDP is among the highest in the world).

Also, I dont think that a superpower like USA could afford to stifle its own military sectors spendings purely because there is no direct threat at the moment. They can improve efficiency but not cut it like some other sectors. Such an act would be incredibly short-sighted.

Anyway, to bring up an earlier point. The problem with consumers is that they have the choice of not consuming and the problem with war is that once its under way, you dont have that many choices in getting out of it. Again, faster progress (at least on the level were discussing here) cant really be considered as a proper incentive for a war, but it definitely is a positive side-effect. Such things dont make war necessary but they do give some weight to its benefits, which is what we use to judge the prospect of conducting or getting involved in one.

Wars are necessary for very different sets of underlying reasons. Wed have to pick each war appart individually to determine whether we can agree with the reasons. You cant really slap them all with one stick. And wouldnt that be moot anyway, since the people who ultimately make these choices are surely much better informed than us - armchair scientist.




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