War, as Thomas Hardy shows us in his poem The Man He Killed, is not about the individuals fighting, but the individuals giving orders. Conflicts between nations is an expensive article to consider, as time passes the price of leading a successful campaign gets higher and higher. However, there is a purpose to having an army, if a nation lacks defense they don’t last very long, but having an army and using it are two different things. One of the most important things about war that is so often neglected is the psychological cost to the men and women fighting on the battlefield, there internal struggle to rationalize their actions in the endeavor to keep their sanity. Therefore, Anti-war diplomacy is better for the economy and the and the mental state of the population.
Paying for a war effort is an expensive matter to consider and it only gets worse as the decade’s pass, and for good reason, guns, warships, and ammunition are one thing, but as time moves forward and technology advances the prices only go up. According to FAS “A newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service estimated the financial costs of major U.S. wars from the American Revolution ($2.4 billion in FY 2011 dollars) to World War I ($334 billion) to World War II ($4.1 trillion) to the second Iraq war ($784 billion) and the war in Afghanistan ($321 billion).”. To break this down if we compare the cost of the American Revolution to World War I there is a multiplication of around one hundred and thirty-nine, and if we compare World War I to World War II there is a multiplication of twelve.
In a perfect world, these rivalry’s would have been resolved in a dialogue between the parties involved, but perfect worlds don’t exist and that is exactly why a nation needs an army. In the past countries would wage war on one another for reasons such as economics, Ideology, territory and just because they could, but today that is almost unheard of, the United Nations has all but eliminated waging war for these reasons, however a nation without an army is a nation in peril. Sun Tz? said this best “The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road to either safety or to ruin.”.
What he means to say, in modern terms, is that if a nation fails to supply its armed forces, leaves them unattended, and fails to organize them the nation falls in danger of being razed, pillaged and/or seized by foreign powers. Sun Tz?’s advise is an absolute truth, but it does not mean that a nation should seek out a fight, if it does it risks the well-being of its people, and the alternative is always favorable. On the battlefield there two perspectives that of the general telling his soldiers what to do, and then there is the perspective of the soldiers themselves. In the conflicts in the past a great many times there was little animosity between the individual soldiers in any given war, at times the soldiers had to rationalize what was happening to them and the people around them. Thomas Hardy stated in his poem The Man He Killed “Had he and I but met At some old ancient inn, We should have sat us down to wet Right many a nipperkin!”. Thomas Hardy is telling us what goes through a soldier’s mind after the fighting stops, either permanently or for a while, the soldier creates a hypothetical situation in which he sees an alternate reality where he meets the man and he tells us that if they would have met in pub they would have gotten drunk together. But he goes on to say “But ranged as infantry, And staring face to face, I shot at him as he at me, And killed him in his place.”.
This is where Hardy finishes his meaning by saying that the soldier didn’t meet the man he killed in a bar, he met him on the battlefield in the front lines, so he did what he had to do and killed him. Hardy is telling us that soldiers do what they have to in order to survive the hell they endure, sometimes that is killing someone and sometimes that takes the form of thinking about what that someone might be like in another life. These soldiers don’t want to fight one another, they survive the hell they are placed in.
As Stanley Kubrick put it “The dead have been covered with lime, the dead know only one thing, it is better to be alive.”, meaning that no matter what side a person is on no one wants to die. With all the consequences of war it is surprising to see how common it is, the United States has been in twelve major wars since its inception including the revolutionary war, they were fought for a variety of reasons, some were to see justice done, some were for land or for political reasons, fighting a war for justice is one thing, but for land or a political score is almost inhumane. Sometimes the cost of a military campaign can prove to be fruitful when it is fought for the right reasons and of course after all other options are exhausted, but the majority of the time the money spent is not worth what is gained. It is absolutely imperative that a state protect itself, for all the reasons to wage war, the one for survival is the best one.
Lastly, it is almost never worth ending and ruining the lives of the people the nation is supposed to protect, even if the people survive how many of them will leave the war mentally scarred, unable to function in society, especially if the situation could have been solved with a dialogue. Diplomacy can do great things, if both sides of a conflict are willing to, it can build the world into prosperity and a truly moral society.