If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to find yourself in conversation with a peacenik you will have encountered the futility of war argument. You will have been assured that war is futile and wasteful and settles nothing. In fact this argument, thanks to the tireless activities of the cultural marxists, is virtually a core belief on the intellectual class.
But is war actually futile?
The Greek and Persian Wars certainly weren’t futile. The Greek victories in those wars ensured the survival of classical civilisation, a civilisation that remains to a large extent the basis of modern western civilisation.
The Second Punic War wasn’t futile. The survival of the Roman Republic was at stake. Had the Romans lost Rome would never have become the dominant power in Europe and the entire heritage of Graeco-Roman civilisation would have been lost.
The Battle of Tours in 732 AD was hardly futile. Had Charles Martel lost that battle Islam would almost certainly have conquered the whole of western Europe. The survival of Christianity would have been in very serious doubt.
I doubt whether any American would consider the War of American Independence to be futile. Had the Americans and their French allies been defeated the United States would not exist.
I’m sure the Dutch didn’t think the Eighty Years’ War was futile either. And if the French had given up fighting the Hundred Years’ War after a succession of defeats France would not exist as a nation. On that occasion it took a seventeen-year-old girl to shame the French monarch into continuing the fight.
Even the dynastic wars of the eighteenth century were far from futile. Very large issues were at stake. A French victory in the War of the Spanish Succession would have allowed Louis XIV to unite the thrones of France and Spain, creating a Bourbon super-state that would have dominated Europe. It would also have established the Bourbon state as a naval power that might seriously have challenged British sea power, with momentous consequences for the history of all the English-speaking nations.
The First World War is a favourite of the “war is futile” brigade. They see it as the prime example of a useless war. But was it? Had the Central Powers been victorious it is all but inevitable that the German Empire would have dominated the whole of Europe. The German Empire was autocratic and hostile to democracy. The survival of democracy in Europe might well have been in doubt. The Russian Revolution was made possible by the First World War. Whether the world today would be a better place or a worse place without the war can certainly be debated, but there’s no question it would be a very different world. Communism might have been throttled at birth, which would obviously have been a very good thing, but we might instead have had a rather unpleasant form of authoritarianism. The point is that it is nonsense to say the First World War settled nothing - it changed the course of world history in a very profound way.
I don’t think any modern South Korean would consider the Korean War to have been a waste of time. That was achieved more than the salvation of South Korea. North Korea is troublesome enough today. Had the Communists overrun the whole of Korea we would be facing a much more powerful and far more dangerous enemy today.
The avoidance of war also has consequences, not all of them favourable. Ask Neville Chamberlain. It often appears what whenever they’re faced with a crisis our modern “statesmen” ask themselves, “What would Neville Chamberlain have done?”
I’m not suggesting that war is a good thing, but sometimes it cannot be avoided, and sometimes it is a deadly mistake to do so. And if a war becomes inevitable you’d better make damned sure that your side wins.