Just prior to a war, the majority of people in the nations that are about to become involved tend to assume that another nation is threatening theirs, whist their own leaders are doing all they can to avoid conflict. This is almost never the case.
The “etiquette” of starting wars is for leaders to claim to their people that the last thing they want is war, but the enemy is goading them into armed conflict and, at some point, retaliation becomes “unavoidable.”
The reason for this etiquette is that, almost invariably, the people of a nation have no desire to go to war.
But if that’s the case, why is world history filled with warfare taking place on a regular basis?
Well, truth be told, there are two groups of people who tend to relish war – the military and the political leaders.
I’ve often quoted Randolph Bourne as saying, “War is the health of the state.” He was quite correct. The larger the nation, the greater the need political leaders have for warfare. After all, there’s no situation in which a people feel more greatly that they need their leaders to take charge, than in a time of war.
Political leaders, after all, thrive on taxation and the oppression of basic rights. And they can get away with taxing a people more heavily during a war. They can also remove basic freedoms “temporarily” in order to keep the people “safe.”
Then, when the war is over, taxes never seem to return to their previous low and freedoms never fully return. With each conflict, the state ratchets up its power over the people.
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