War is good for nothing. War is bad. War is just a tool of politicians to serve their own purposes. Those are all things we’ve been told since we were kids. Peace, on the other hand, is something that people cherish, something that there is even a prize to honour. War is something that nobody wants, millions of people have died for it, and it has caused unquantifiable destruction.
And yet there are some benefits to war.
Looking at these benefits may seem abhorrent, but hear me out. I don’t deny the damages of war by any means but for this article, I will put all the tragedy aside to consider the positive effects if wars have brought to us.
Of course, there are some meaningless wars bringing nothing but trauma. Wars do enrich the victors with natural resources, territory and influence, and they enrich weapon manufacturers too, but these things are too superficial and unilateral for us to consider them “benefits”. In this article, only the contribution of wars to all of humanity will be mentioned.
Wars boost technological development.
A myriad of technology we use today was mainly developed for military needs. Throughout humanity’s history, we have witnessed a lot of technology jump during wartime. Many innovative solutions were invented in order to solve military problems. This is easy to understand because, during wartime, a huge amount of resources are needed to meet the military needs which cannot be met using old technology. Newer, more efficient technology must be created In order to meet these requirements, and more money from the government must be poured into research and engineering, which creates a great environment for creativity to blossom. When wartime becomes peacetime, that technology often gets applied to improve civilian life. In fact, regardless of time, new technology will always be used for military first, due to less concern about profit and cost. Without wars, we might still get where we are now, but it would certainly take a much longer.
For example, in WWII, the first atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima. The bomb destroyed everything in the city. It was very traumatic and tragic, however; this bomb opened the door to exploit the most effective, cleanest energy that mankind has ever known: nuclear power, a new source of energy that has helped many countries to solve their energy shortages.
Another example is the V2-Rocket from Nazi Germany, which launched the space age. The German scientists initially had no desire to travel to space, but needed to create a super long-range rocket that could launch to other countries un-manned. After the War, the scientists who were working with rocket technology were taken by the US to help develop spaceships for the space race with Soviet Union.
Many more technologies that we enjoy daily also came from war, including GPS, the Internet, microwaves, computers, jet engines, and digital cameras.
Wars have had a huge impact on medicine
War brings destruction, death, and of course, a huge number of wounded soldiers. The more advanced weapons we have, the more complicated wounds become. In order to save these brave soldiers, surgeons were urged to find new techniques and develop their surgery skills. Surgeons and physicians are lead to experiment, observe and record data to find out new and more efficient techniques to deal with various types of injuries that they face on the battlefield. Once the war ends these techniques can be applied to general medical care. These techniques could have never been discovered if it wasn’t for war. For instance, blood loss had been a huge problem for the military, until 1537, when a barber-surgeon, Ambroise Pare, was sent served as a surgeon for the army during the siege of Turin. He is believed to be the one who started a revolution in surgical techniques by abandoning the conventional treatment of bullets. According to a researcher at the University of Paris, “He replaced an ancient system with one based primarily upon the ability of a surgeon to promote healing in the very tissues that his art tore apart.”
Penicillin was a game-changing advancement in medicine, a launcher for antibiotic industry, and again, an invention that can be called a product of war. Its father was Alexander Fleming. He served as captain of Royal Army Medical Corps and came up with the idea when he was witnessing soldiers dying hopelessly from sepsis. Penicillin later was massively produced by the U.S and many lives were saved during the war
There are many more examples. Harold Gillies, whom known as father of modern plastic surgery, also served as Royal Army Medical Corps. The Spanish War brought us blood transfusion and sulphonamides. We came up with frozen blood during the Vietnam war, which can be kept up to a year instead of just 21-30 days like fresh blood. The list goes on.
Wars liberate oppressed people.
History has also proven that war is a great tool to liberate people from tyrannical regimes. If there were not wars, innocent, more peaceful, less aggressive people would continue to be dominated by their oppressors forever. That continued oppression might even lead to cultures disappearing, assimilated into dominant regimes. War can liberate people directly or indirectly.
For instance, the Civil War of the U.S, ensured the end of slavery across the U.S. The War also had a huge impact on slavery system on the worldwide scales, “Brazil, the last bastion of American slavery, watched nervously. In 1864 Emperor Dom Pedro II wrote that the Union’s successes “force us to think about the future of slavery in Brazil.”
The Civil War also inspired democracy worldwide, which also liberated various other countries from oppression. According to The New York Times, after the war, “European powers, seeing the American lion rise, almost immediately began a dramatic retreat from the Western Hemisphere. Spain, exhausted by four years of fierce jungle fighting with Dominican guerrillas, withdrew from Santo Domingo in June 1865, setting its barracks ablaze while Dominican collaborators scrambled to get aboard ships departing for Havana.”
In this case the war affected people directly and indirectly people at the same time.
War also played a role in liberating women from the traditional gender roles in the U.S. and accelerating the fight for women’s rights. Before World War 1, women were believed to belong in the kitchen only and were not permitted to vote and had very limited access to higher education. But during the war, everything completely turned around, due to the large demand for labour, both to produce the resources to serve the ongoing war and to fill the gaps in workforce left by the men. Women were also encouraged to join the Army Ordnance Corps. Women entering the workforce in a great number acted as a catalyst accelerating the fight for equal rights for women.
So, overall, is war good for nothing? No, not quite
What is war good for? Actually, a lot.
War is just like everything in nature has two sides. Regardless of destruction they have brought, the benefits of them are yet undeniable. Having said that, that doesn’t mean that war is a net good, or should be encouraged–it isn’t and it shouldn’t. But let’s see it for what it is and has been, including its good side.