Since time immemorial, the human race has been locked in conflict. In the feudal age, this conflict would be over control and influence over land and people. In the 21st century, with territorial colonialisation firmly in the past, wars should be going down. Most nation-states are happy with their borders and active wars between countries are rare. We have adopted different forms of warfare, economic and targeting trade. “This weaponisation of tariffs has been tried before, but generally to ill effect”, says Robert Triest, professor and Chair of Northeastern’s Economics department, but Donald Trump has continued his aggressive policies, ignoring any potential cost of war.
This is not to say that there is no armed conflict. The rise of non-state actors, terrorist organisations, and other anti-establishment forces in countries has ensured that there is no shortage of armed conflict. At the centre of many of these conflicts is the United States of America. From World War 2 onwards, the Americans have seen it fit to intervene across the world, fighting a series of unofficial wars in the Korean peninsula, in Vietnam, the Middle East, and even Afghanistan. Even still, the recent escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Iran was surprising. Head on conflicts between two functioning governments are rare and to many across the world, we came to the brink of the outbreak of a third Global Conflict. However, the question on most lips was, is the cost of war ever worth it?
The simple answer is, of course, no. When we read about wars, we often treat casualty figures as mere statistics. The pain that comes with losing a loved one cannot be felt until it happens to one; the horrors of war don’t impact us till we ourselves are subject to them. Millions of young lives are lost and for what? The geopolitical gains of political masters egged on by large military-industrial complexes. There are people in this world who profit off of war and these people often ensure foreign policies continue to send young men and women to their death, just so they can sell an additional fighter jet. In the absence of these winnerless wars, this money could be better spent on health, on education, and on giving the poor a better life. Instead, Americans enlist in the military, because if they survive a few tumultuous tours to the Middle East, their college education would be affordable. Wars are not worth it. Human life is not something for politicians sitting behind desks to gamble on. No victory symbolising national superiority in a land thousands of kilometres away can pretend to make up for the loss of a single human life. When the cost of war is human life, then war itself will never be worth it.