Friday, March 28, 2008

Trade is Better than Battle

An editorial in Scientific American quoted a United Nations expert, Jan Egeland, who is happy that war is receding around the globe, but who complains that war is getting "crueler" because it now involves civilian populations, not just armies. Egeland says we could end war, if only politicians would muster the will to triumph.

The editorial goes on to warn that global warming might ignite a new round of environmental wars, spinning out of control.

I guess the only way to deal with that possibility is to find politicians with even greater will. I cringe anytime someone calls for a politician with the will to triumph, even when the topic is ending war.

From an evolutionary perspective, war is just one of the ways humans have struggled to survive, as victors on either offense or defense. There is no such thing as a war without cruelty. War is cruelty. United States General William T. Sherman said so when he was waging a war against a civilian population one hundred and forty four years ago.

The reason war is diminishing is that its survival value is declining. We have discovered that market economies and individual liberty are far better social arrangements for human survival. Trade is better than battle.

As for global warming, it need not ignite another war. Market forces are adaptable enough to deal with climate change. However, global warming is dangerous precisely to the degree that politicians try to "will" a solution.

Many lives have been lost in the triumph of the will.

No comments: