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IMO I'd say war and atrocities do go hand in hand, they don't have to but it just seems to be a downfall of human nature. I believe what happened in Japan is a prime example, the US troops had heard of all the atrocities against POW's and when invading they treated the Japanese dead more like game than humans, including taking trophies, this then got back to the Japanese and they were so disgusted by the American atrocities that when the US invaded cities there were mass suicides because the Japanese didn't want to live through US occupation. So ironically the Japanese Military committing atrocities ended up killing their own people more effectively than if they'd shot a civilian with every POW.

Again looking at history, I believe without war we wouldn't have technology. Most of the technology that we take as granted in the medieval period came from the Mongols, who because of war managed to gather together inventors from multiple countries and cultures and put them together. They took Chinese fireworks and Bronze Workers from Eastern Europe (I can't remember the country) and put 1 + 1 together, they built a cannon. They also committed many atrocities, however it was always the victims own fault, many times they killed the messenger, which the Mongol's invented their own postal service so they got pissed off at that and just besieged cities. Other times they were given fare warning, nearly always 'surrender and we'll let you live your lives as you always have', yet people refused. IIRC one time the citizens refused and killed the messenger, this one led to the Mongols diverting a river into the city and then slaughtering everyone.

The book I read (http://www.amazon.com/Genghis-Khan-Making-Modern-World/dp/06...) is a real eye opener. The man merely wanted to protect his own family, but betrayal after betrayal he ended up conquering most of the old world. The only reason he didn't take over all of western europe was because 'middle' europe was so poor they thought it was like what we imagine the third world. Aside from Europe they didn't invade most of Africa and India, this was purely because they couldn't ride their horses and didn't feel like invading.

Well, Daniel and electromagnetic, since I feel I'm beginning to repeat my arguments, I will say something general and then leave it there.

What seems odd to me is the role that history plays in your arguments. You are using it not just as something we can observe and use to inform our judgement about the likelyhood of things. You promote history to a normative force, something fateful that tells us how things must always be, something we must obey, something with a causal logic. Kind of similar to Karl Marx' ideas how capitalism would logically have to fail.

History is seen almost like a living conscious being with it's own objectives that makes you commit atrocities because for all time everybody will commit them and you must hit hardest to prevail.

I think this view disregards that complex systems can change in unpredictable ways and that mankind has reached a level of global interconnection of economies, information and, to some degree, values, that may change the whole game. At the same time, the power of individuals to create things of global impact is infinitely greater than ever before. This works in technology, in influencing opinions as well as in terrorism unfortunately.

It may just be that the rules of the past are obsolete, that no two great powers will ever wage war against each other again. Not just because of some ethic argument, but because it is no longer in anyone's interest. War, in the past, has always been seen as a means to gain economic strength. I think this kind of imperialist logic is starting to break down. All the geostrategic thinking is becoming ineffective.

And for myself I can say this. I refuse to follow the logic of you either fight the evil people or you have already made a decsion to help them. That's not logical in all cases (sometimes it is though). If I go and torture someone, I know what the immediate consequences are. If I don't do it, I cannot be sure what the consequences are, so this is not the kind of binary decision between two knowns that it's made out to be.

Sometimes I feel that it would help to solve many conflicts in this world if people just individually decided to step back for a while and do something useful instead of fighting. The northern ireland conflict ended partly because the Republic of Ireland had become economically incredibly successful. Some people had been doing something useful for a while, like writing software and building stuff, and that changed the game.

Thanks for the debate

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