Why We Keep Fighting Wars

Just saw a really sad story about the death of a Marine that was in Farenheit 9/11. Two comments by his father really struck me:

I have heard this sentiment so often, for this and other wars, but it is hard to see how Iraq threatened our “freedom”. Were Iraqi soldiers going to invade us and burn the Bill of Rights? I think you can make a case for us protecting Iraqis’ freedom, but would a parent be willing to sacrifice their child for another country’s freedom.

This was really sad. I understand the sentiment, how can we sacrifice the lives of so many and then leave before we are done. On the other hand, how can we ask for more fathers to sacrifice their children to continue a war that was ilconceived.
I hope this does not come across as bashing the father, I understand where he is coming from.

I’m not sure the question you’re asking is relevant. It doesn’t seem at all accurate to say that a parent is sacrificing their child. Every person who joins the military in this country does so of his own free will. True, a war, just or injust, will cause parents to be deprived of their children, but they haven’t “sacrificed” them.

Also, you thread title isn’t terribly representative of your OP. The points you make are applicable only to wars a person expressing them would deem unjust.

Why war? Because for a lot of the world, that’s the only thing that the general populace believes in as a method for change.

Would a parent be willing for his child do die for someone else’s sake? Well given that most parents of policemen and firemen seem to be proud of their children despite the danger, I’m going to have to vote on “yes.” Certainly they would rather not have their child die, but still people aren’t out there trying to play guilt trips on their kids to keep them out of service or badmouthing them to their friends.

Is it worth losing more people for the sake of bringing potential freedom to the Iraqi people? That’s up to you. But why are American lives worth more than theirs?

Dan, are you asking why people/nations fight wars in general, or why a nation would keep fighting a war even after it appears to be a lost cause? Two very different debates there.

The answer to both questions is profit. As Country Joe McDonald sang, “There’s money, big money, to be made by supplying the army with the tools of the trade.” In this particular war, many formerly military jobs have been farmed out to private sector companies (transportation, security, food service, even interrogation.) The money rolls in, and it will as long as we have an occupying army.

A mixture of lack of representative government and half true propaganda seem like the main reasons.


The Democratic Peace Theory states that liberal democracies either never or almost never go to war with each other. The only wars that occur are either between non-liberal countries (USSR vs. Afghanistan) or liberal democracies vs non-liberal countries (UK vs. Argentina).

And as far as propaganda, most countries paint their wars either as self defense or liberating others. This is no different. We are at war to protect our freedom, but so is every other country that goes to war according to official storylines.
Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?..Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

The ‘resolve the war’ part is just cognitive dissonance and could be really insidious. If other kids die then those parents have a choice. Either say in the war or pull out and feel their kid died for nothing. It could build on itself, which would suck.

My title is probably misleading. What I meant is that this is why we keep fighting wars. The idea that we are protecting America’s freedom, and that once we are in a war we can’t pull out because the people who died before will have died in vain.

Sage RatAre American’s lives worth more than others? I think individuals can decide for themselves, but the justification for the American Armed Services is to defend America, not be the world’s cops.

I recall one of the Middle Eastern folk tales of the Mullah Nasrudin:

Walking along a road in India, Nasrudin grew very hungry. He came across a man sitting under a tree selling small, green fruits out of a basket. Nasrudin handed the man a few coins – and the man handed over the whole basket; such fruits being very cheap and usually bought in small amounts.

Nasrudin walked along, found a tree to sit under, and began to eat. He soon noticed his throat was burning and his eyes tearing.

Another traveler – from Persia, like Nasrudin – rounded the bend and saw what Nasrudin was doing. “Fool!” he cried. “Do you not know the chillies of India?! They are for making curry! You don’t eat them whole! Stop and drink some water or you’ll be dead by sundown!”

Nasruding kept on eating the fruits, eyes tearing, and making involuntary moans of pain.

The traveler repeated, “Stop, fool! Stop eating the fruit!”

“I am not eating the fruit any more!” Nasrudin choked out. “I am eating my money!”

War is the final appeal of nations and people against perceived injustice.

While it is easy to say ‘it is all about money,’ this is not always the case. Did the Mexican Civil War start because of money? Korea?

So why do we fight? We fight to right what we think are wrongs against us. When international law (the Great Powers, the UN or whatnot) will not listen (or decides against us) we appeal to the gun.

Same as it ever was. Same as it will always be.

Yes, it did. Land = money.

Cite? I think you will find that to be largely untrue starting from the beginning of the 20th century.

From here:

and from here:

I thought time = money.

I would point out (as testimony against one’s own self interest, so it is admissible) that the XX Century American Emperor-Warrior Douglas MacArthur said: “War is caused by unguarded wealth.”

And? No one said that defense wasn’t something they can do as well.

For the last hundred years the only defensive action on the part of the US military, that I can think of, was against the Japanese during WWII. Everything–or at least the grand majority of everything else has been policing. For a country that is only a bit over two hundred years old, to have a hundred years of almost complete police-action makes it seem rather difficult to say that policing isn’t a viable job for our military. You’ve got half the existence of the country to ignore.

We may be in violent agreement here. I think there is a dichotomy between the stated purpose of the military and how it is being used. It’s almost a con job - young people sign up to “protect our freedoms” and end up policing the world. You never (rarely?) hear people say: “my son died doing what he belived in - fighting in an endless series of police actions around the world”.

Eisenhower told you ,pay attention. In his farewell speech he said the Military,industrial complex will urge wars for profit. We can rename it now. It is the Military, Industrial, Media complex.
President Chaney recently said we will be fighting in the foreseeable future.
Wars are always about money. In the nuclear age there is only one possible end. We are going to have to rein these guys in or suffer the consequences. If not us, our children.