ALWAYS Win the War

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Captain Charles A. and Sergeant John M. Hawkins, Company E, “Tom Cobb Infantry,” Thirty-eighth Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry, 1861–62.
Ambrotype, Photograph.
David Wynn Vaughan Collection.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Now, I’m not one to try and court controversy, but it has occurred to me that the act of war is just good business (for the winners anyway).

Let’s take war crimes, death tolls, injuries, post-traumatic stress, and dubious reasons for inciting wars out of the equation for a moment. Instead, look at the opening up of jobs in the military forces. This means that unemployment figures go down, levels of education go up (excellent military and civilian training is provided in all manner of subjects), nationwide happiness is on the up (again, primarily for the winning side), and if we stick to the “to the victor the spoils” philosophy (as a certain nation has recently tried to do with Middle-Eastern oil resources), then wealth can also be a by-product of a successful war campaign. All of this leads to some extremely good PR for the winner, leading to not only solid support and investments from within the winning country for the government who sanctioned this war, but also from other countries who are impressed by the victorious win (and/or don’t want to get on their bad side).

Then, of course, Hollywood comes a-calling, and several millions of (insert currency) get poured back into a.) the movie business and, b.) the economy, when the latest blockbuster featuring an all-American super-hero troop saves the day in whichever warzone they may be happening to portray that day.

See examples such as Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbour, Saving Private Ryan, Independence Day, Brad Pitt’s recent World War Z, Red Dawn (both versions, the first featuring Patrick Swayze against Soviet enemies, and the second with Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson against North Koreans), etc. There are others, but this blog would be 500 pages long if I were to list them all.

War, of course, is never something to be taken lightly, but with these possible (ok, I admit it, flippant) outcomes, maybe it’s easy to see why some trigger-happy governments are less than slow to say “No” to a game of fisticuffs with their neighbours. Just remember, before you start your own little warzone, that there is always a loser. And losing sucks. Even in a game of Risk.

On a more serious note, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting an exhibition on Photography and the American Civil War, running until the 2nd September, 2013. To truly see the realities of war, as it happens on the ground, this is a fascinating insight into a power struggle that happened 150 years ago, and the very human faces who it affected. Should you be unable to head to New York in the next few months, turn your attention to The Art of War, a forthcoming title from Parkstone International.

-Fiona Torsch