From War Profits to Peace Dividends


HUMAN history appears to be a long story of wars, one after another,  almost no break in between. Prior to the 20th century, war used to be a necessity of the times. But from the 20th century onwards, following a revolution in human affairs, war has become totally unnecessary. War has now become a complete anachronism. All that for the sake of which in the past people would go to war, can now be obtained without war and in a much better way. Compared to the violent means that were used in ancient times, peaceful means are much more effective and result oriented in the present world.

Why did so many wars happen in ancient times? The reason for this was ambitious people could not see before them any way other than waging war against others to obtain their objectives. They went to war because it seemed to them that they had no alternative to war in order to secure their goals. This was the mind set of the people of that time. They were at the lower rung of the ladder of the civilisation. They couldn’t think above this. For them, it was necessary to get what they wanted through the wars, even though there was bloodshed on the large scale.

In ancient times politically ambitious people ruling over countries would wage wars to satisfy desire for power or extend their rule. Another very significant change occurred in the economic sphere. For thousands of years, almost the entire economy was dependent on agriculture. In other words, it was a land-based economy. Those who owned land were considered wealthy and powerful, while those who were landless, were considered poor and powerless. Further, under the ancient political system, the king and those whom he had granted land grants,  were considered to be the actual owners of the land. In such a situation, for a person with great economic ambitions, there seemed to be only way to satisfy his desires : that was to fight with the owners of the land and grab their land. In this regard a person who had no land had just two choices: either to remain content with being landless or to  fight against the owners of the land and try to  grab their land.

Then came revolutionary changes and that left no excuse for anyone to go to war. A person or group or country can now obtain their economic or political objectives by availing of the vastly expanded opportunities that have now been made possible, using peaceful means alone. In such a situation, there is no need for war at all. War and violence would now only indicate a complex lack of awareness of the ample possibilities that are today available for obtaining one’s objectives using peaceful means alone. Today, war has been rendered utterly ineffective and reality has dawned that peace has much greater dividends.

Two recent examples serve an example of changing time. In January President trump made a folly by ordering the assassination of Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani. This sparked massive tension in the region and situation turned so volatile that  a destructive war seemed inevitable. It was at the most critical juncture that better sense prevailed in Washington and Trump was made to backtrack on his threat of devastating war if Iran retaliated. Iran did respond and targeted US bases in Iraq albeit without eliciting a promised US response. Knowing fully the calamitous consequences of modern-day war, soon heads of both the countries unequivocally declared that they do not want to go to war. The US President realising the mood in Iran declared,” The fact that we have this great military and equipment….  doesn’t mean we have to use it. We don’t want to use it.’(TIME magazine January 20, 2020). This episode makes it clear that the age of war is over. The second example of this optimism came on February 29 when the US and the Taliban signed one of the most important deals in their bilateral history. Both sides decided to give peace a chance. That shows both are now aware that war is not an option. 

Syed Mustafa Ahmad
Hajibagh, Zainakote

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