A Hundred Years of War

One hundred years ago today, World War I began; though far from the first war in human history, it might be viewed as the beginning of modern warfare.  The Great War was followed by World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Iraq-Afghanistan War and ongoing conflict throughout the Middle East, not to mention a host of genocidal and civil wars in the Balkans, Africa, Asia and Central America.

Many humans believe that war is often justified, pointing to the World Wars as examples; however, one can argue that those multinational conflicts and their massive death tolls (of soldiers and civilians) could have been prevented if early action had been taken to isolate the perpetrators.  Surely, subsequent wars might have been avoided by more aggressive negotiation, more reliable intelligence and a multinational commitment to economic sanctions.  It seems to me that terrorism would have been more effectively combated by limited strikes, shared intelligence and economic pressure on countries that support their activity; as it turned out, regional wars have served to fuel the spread of terrorism across the globe.

Military solutions, while temporarily effective in some cases, rarely lead to lasting peace, exact a heavy toll on innocent civilians and introduce the risk of failed states.  Most agree that the current conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza will only be settled through negotiation; unfortunately, countries in a position to exert pressure on the combatants are influenced by their own political and economic forces, diminishing both their willingness to impose sanctions and their effectiveness as mediators.