Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 87.djvu/161

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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF WAR

the paralysis of a great and intricate system of world commerce and industrial international relations, the colossal destruction of wealth, the irreparable damage to progress and civilization, the impoverished physical heredity of a whole people, the affront to moral ideals slowly and painfully achieved, the untold burden of pain and woe and human suffering in desolated homes far from the field of battle, all combine to make war repulsive and repugnant to modern sense. It no longer cultivates manly virtues but for the most part only machination and mechanical ingenuity.

It is probable that all the benefits which a warring nation hopes to gain by victory are in modern times illusory, or at least they are so far illusory that they are almost if not wholly confined to the circumstances of some hypothetical future war. For instance, a great nation demands the control of some celebrated strait or narrows, so that it may have an outlet for its vast exports—an open way to the sea, although in time of peace that nation already has the enjoyment of the freest use of that strait. In other words, were it not for some hypothetical future war, that nation has already the open way to the sea which it demands. Another great nation desires a place in the sun, the freedom of the seas, or a fair share of colonies in distant lands, the colonies being desired for purposes of trade and colonization of its emigrants. But in time of peace this same nation extends its trade by leaps and bounds to every corner of the earth freely and has the utmost freedom of the seas, and sends its emigrants in great numbers to prosperous North and South America. It is only in time of war that the opportunities for trade of that country are limited or that it would profit by having its emigrants under political control. Colonies again in distant parts of the earth may be desired for coaling stations but it is only in time of war that the ships of a nation can not coal freely anywhere.

Still another country desires to retain or regain disputed territory, although in time of peace probably no citizen or group of citizens in its own or in the coveted territory would have its opportunities in any way enlarged or its condition benefited by mere political transference. The acquisition of territory is, again, a common excuse for war, but it has never been shown that, under our modern conditions, the citizens of larger states are any happier or wiser or wealthier than the citizens of smaller states. Thus we have the vicious circle; war exists because of war.

War being thus outgrown and wholly irrational and having no longer any possible purpose except to perpetuate itself, and being opposed to the spirit of the age and discouraged by the powerful peace movements of the day and directly adverse to the all-controlling and all-absorbing industrial and commercial interests of the world, it would seem that it must soon disappear from the face of the earth. But strangely