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Are wars getting less bloody these days?

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  • Are wars getting less bloody these days?

    I'm curious what people think about the way wars are being fought in the modern world. Now I would like to point out that war is never a "good" thing and I an not opening a debate on war itself. There has been a curious trend over the last thousand years or so (with the exception of WWII) that clearly demonstrates that wars in general produce far less casualties as a percentage of the total population than they once did.

    Let me explain. There was a time that if a Scottish farmer decided to join in "the troubles," he knew what this was potentially going to mean for not only him, but very often his sons and other family members as well. When the Huron were at war with the Mohawk, they knew the price of failure might mean the death of their loved ones and possibly being pushed off their lands. During the US Civil War the South suffered many burned farms and massive damage to some of its populated areas. In short, war meant total war.

    Today, most countries enjoy the benefit of large, volunteer military forces, thus war for the average person doesn't mean any type of personal danger. The average person of draft age doesn't have anything to worry about nor does the conflict directly effect their daily lives. Wars are increasingly fought by hand-picked volunteers who are carefully screened for any signs of mental or physical disabilities. People who have criminal records are finding it increasingly difficult to join military forces as most nations continue to put ever tighter restrictions on who can serve.

    What does all this mean? It means that most modern wars are fought by "regular" people who volunteered to be there. Professional armies who duke it out while those who chose not to serve watch the whole thing in real-time on CNN. The concept of "total war" has largely disappeared outside the Middle East. This is usually hailed as "progress" and cited as an example of humanity's continued evolution out of the brutal and murderous ways of our past. But is it? When society realizes that it can make war on others with very little cost to itself, what does that mean?

    Pushing the envelope even further, some technologically advanced nations are putting more and more effort and resources into unmanned weapons systems. What long-term ramifications will this have on the mindset of senior military officials when they can commit their "troops" to battle knowing that only a handful might die in a major war? With robots soon be fighting other robots?

    Are we indeed getting more civilized, or are we trying to have it both ways?
    Editor-in-Chief
    GameSquad.com

  • #2
    in a word: no.

    Western wars are getting less bloody, and reported wars are getting less bloody, but the majority of the armed LICs in the globe are just as bloody and consuming of human life as they used to be, we just either don;t hear about them, or deem their importance upon the evolution of military thinking irrelevant.
    Now listening too;
    - Russell Robertson, ruining whatever credibility my football team once had.

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    • #3
      A military is a state function/duty, as the nation relies on the state for security purposes, among others. Using unmaned weapons systems just makes it less bloody for the operator, the collateral damage still hurts as much.

      We are still fighting wars today because we are at different levels of advancement on whole variety of issues. However just because wars have happened in the past and still do it does not mean the human condition is to continually engage in war. We should be able to lift ourselves from that.

      Although I sometimes think that the only way for us to stop fighting each other is if some big ugly fat arsed hungry alien come down here and started eating us or something. Then we might put our differences aside and get along with each other better. The Japanese did it this way for centuries, they would fight amongst themselves constantly but whenever a threat arose they would line up in ranks together and push it of their rock, then go back to killing themselves.
      Not lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs...the Australian army is proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline - General Monash

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      • #4
        I think that wars are of course less bloody today in more ore less developed countries (the Iraq-US thing), but especially in some parts of africa they are still fighting with the WW1 methods and this against assault rifles is definately bloody, additionally the wars there are still fought in a we conquer and you go away manner, so to loose the fight still means to loose your home.

        Don, I strongly oppose your idea that the people nowhere feel the effect of modern war, this generally just counts for the US and it allies (includes all NATO etc.) and this thanks to the way they fought their last wars --> on enemy soil.
        I think some of us do remember the pictures off blown up briges in Belgrade, as well as destroyed power stations there which, indeed, had an enormous effect on the population.
        It migth sound cruel, but I think this development is bad, I mean technically speaking Germany is at war (as I regard the operations for enduring freedom etc. as combat operations) but if you ask most Germans doesn't even know where all the troops are deployed.
        "A platoon of Chinese tanks viciously attacked a Soviet harvester,
        which was peacefully working a field near the Soviet-Chinese border.
        The harvester returned fire and upon destroying the enemy
        returned to its home base."

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        • #5
          Don- I have to echo some of the comments above- that the blood-letting as a percentage of the population is indeed declining for "more advanced" societies. However in Ruwanda, Uganda, et al. this is definitely not the case. The fragments of the former Yugoslavia fit into this, although they are not (were not) a third world nation. The phenomenon of what we now call "ethnic cleasning" is pretty efficient at spreading the death and destruction to "non-combatant" elements of populations.

          Also, I think the perception applies only to those countries that are capable of wielding long-range stand-off weapons (that would be us). The difference may be not be so evident to those on the losing side.

          I think we ARE trying to have it both ways. Any time you send young soldiers out to kill and destroy others- regardless of the driving ideology- we (as a society) descend to the basest nature of the Human Race. Whether we will ever be capable of rising above this condition is open for argument.

          To use industrial jargon, the US military has, over the years, improved the "productivity" of the professional soldier to a level at which our society can send a relatively few highly trained pros to conquer a country (a torn-up husk of one, to be sure). Meanwhile, those of us at home- who have no loved ones directly involved- suffer no more than slightly elevated gas prices.
          Our society has done a pretty good job of sanitizing the old concept "You're pissing me off, so I'm going to kill you".

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          • #6
            Does anyone remember the old Star Trek episode where the two planets are fighting and they have sanitized war to the point where there is no pain or suffering? When "killed" people simply walked to the nearest designated area were atomized in a special chamber. War without the mess.
            Editor-in-Chief
            GameSquad.com

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Don Maddox
              Does anyone remember the old Star Trek episode where the two planets are fighting and they have sanitized war to the point where there is no pain or suffering? When "killed" people simply walked to the nearest designated area were atomized in a special chamber. War without the mess.
              Wheres the fun in that, no wargames there i bet.
              Not lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs...the Australian army is proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline - General Monash

              Comment


              • #8
                wars arent, and will never be LESS bloody. look at Rwanda or yugoslavia.....for the west it seems that their wars arent a bloody afair but for the other side it is. 20.000iraqi military deats during the war. 150coalition deaths. the tech gap just tilts the losses to the less technological side.
                French Soldier: You don't frighten us, English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called "Arthur King," you and all your silly English K-nig-hts.

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                • #9
                  I think the reason "western" wars seem less bloddy is that they are limited conflicts in terms of time time, area and involved populations. A full scale total war a la WW1 or WW2 betweem more balanced antagonists and of prolonged duration, would be very much more bloody.

                  Being able to limit the theater, establish total air superiority and strike at your own chosen time in overwhelming force (if not numbers) will make wars shorter and thus less bloody.

                  Just my two cents.
                  ...the troops of love are pulling out... (D.A.D.)

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                  • #10
                    I think wars will become less bloody due to techonology, unless of course two of the larger countrys get at it with each other then there would be lots of blood. But if wars are one sided as they all seem to be these days they should be less bloody. However I think that wars will start to cost more because of the techonology and the reconstruction efforts afterwards.

                    Thanks for looking!!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SoccerDJ
                      But if wars are one sided as they all seem to be these days they should be less bloody.
                      err, how'd you figure that?

                      Chechnya vs CIS - even
                      Eritrea vs Ethiopia - even
                      Sudanese Civil War - even

                      yada yada yada...

                      why do you think so many of these conflicts have been ongoing for such a long time? It's because neither side can ever get a clear advantage, and the conflict just keeps propagating itself.
                      Now listening too;
                      - Russell Robertson, ruining whatever credibility my football team once had.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ivan Rapkinov
                        err, how'd you figure that?

                        Chechnya vs CIS - even
                        Eritrea vs Ethiopia - even
                        Sudanese Civil War - even

                        yada yada yada...

                        why do you think so many of these conflicts have been ongoing for such a long time? It's because neither side can ever get a clear advantage, and the conflict just keeps propagating itself.
                        Well actually I misspoke my mistake I should have said that the wars that are one sided are less bloody. You are right if no one has the advantage they go on for along time and are bloody. Thanks for pointing out my mistake

                        Thanks for looking!!

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                        • #13
                          I would like to add that ancient warfare was not as deadly as some might think. Some battles were indeed massacres (Cannae) but on the whole manpower is a commodity and slaves were an essential part of the economy. Also the big battles were often years apart with no continuous war but a series of campaigns to spread out the casualties a bit. Anyway I don't doubt that modern armies suffer less casalties as a percentage of population, but things weren't all that gruesome in the ancient world.

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                          • #14
                            Until recently the biggest threat facing a soldier throughout history was disease. It has been argued that diseases have played more of a role in determining the history of wars than any other factor. Considering this, modern small arms may be able to rip a person in half in the blink of an eye but at least his buddies who don't get hit should survive the campaign.
                            Not lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs...the Australian army is proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline - General Monash

                            Comment

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