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War & Human Nature

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Sherifa Amin

on 20 January 2016

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Transcript of War & Human Nature

War & Human Nature
War Throughout Human History
The Art of War by Sun Tzu (513 BC)
3000 BC

Modern Era
Post 1945

States have to:
Manage their internal affairs
Defend themselves against attack
War is an important element of the state's affairs
"The Art of War" discusses
Protecting the state
Planning warfare
Managing a military
Principles of war
Influence of emperor
Should provide moral leadership
Should lead by example
Qualities of generals
Controls army logistics
In charge of training
Discipline & organization of soldiers
Harsh penalties for disobedience
System of reward & punishment
Think about a Few Things Sun Tzu wrote...
"The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected"
War should always be a last resort. A general should known when to fight and when not to fight.
Military intelligence, the use of spies and deception are necessary
Moral values of justice
Thomas Aquinas (mid 1200s)
Niccolo Machiavelli (1500s)
When is war just?
Roman Catholic Church controlled society & its education at the time
Aquinas applied
reason & rationality
rather than simply reaffirming the Church's teachings
He advocated for integrating
He discussed:
Secular power vs. Divine authority
Church vs. State
To Aquinas, justice was the key element in governance
is what decides how moral a state is
Just War Theory
There Must Be a Rightful Intention: Restoration of Peace
To preserve/restore peace
Defensive, not preemptive

It Must Be Under the Authority of the Sovereign/Ruler

There Must Be Just Cause
For the benefit of the people
Not personal gain
Legitimate government is necessary
Laws in Society
Divine Law
Natural Law
Human Laws
Comes directly from God
Rules the entire universe
Example: "Thou shalt not steal. Exodus 20:15"
Rose because of our ability to reason
Moral code of behavior
Our ability to decide right from wrong
Example: taking bribes is a crime
Run social communities
Day-to-day affairs
Maintain order in society
Can lead to injustice
Example: how should those who take bribes be punished?
Aquinas on Human Nature
Humans need to form social communities
We are "political animals"
Humans aim to live "a good life"
To Aquinas, this can be acheived by combining religion & reason
Even the laws must be based on both
A just government is one that looks out for the interest of its citizens
Commonly held ideas before Machiavelli
What Machiavelli had to say about them
How society should be, how it can be perfected
Politics is a branch of
moral philosophy, or ethics
The state should improve the morality of its citizens
What is right & what is wrong
How society is and how it realistically functions
Politics is purely
; concerned with the here and now
The state should only ensure its citizens wellbeing and security
What is useful, necessary, successful
Utility, effectivness
Human Nature
BUT.. With a skillfull leader, these traits can be manipulated into establishing a successful society
Machiavelli's Perfect Recipe For Transforming the Horrible Nature of Humans into a Functining, Sustainable Social Nature:
Social Organization
Prudent Leadership
(wisdom, practicality, thinking/planning for the future)
(pattern of relationships between individuals & groups)
Dear Rulers..
Sincerly, Niccolo Machiavelli
1) Manipulate "for the greater good"
2)Utility & security should always come first; morals &ethics second
3) Your only motives should be ambition & glory
4) Analyze situations before acting
5) Only take into consideration how people will behave; not how they ought to
6) Social conflict is an inevitable result of the selfishness of human nature
7) Success in war depends on deception, intelligence & conspiracy
8) Success in politics depends on deceipt, secrecy & lies
9)"A prudent ruler cannot and must not honor his word". To do so would be jeopradizing his rule
10)"The end justifies the means"
Most Famous Quotes
It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver.
It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.
If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.

The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.
Smedley D. Butler (1935)
" War is a racket* "
*an illegal or dishonest scheme for obtaining money.
Frantz Fanon "The Wretched of the Earth" (1961)
Post Colonialism
People of the same race share similar physical characteristics
Legacy of European/American domination
Political, social, economic, psychological effects
Control of one country over another
Economic exploitation
The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

Legacy of violence, repression & loss of dignity
Effects of colonialism on the colonized
The response of the oppressed people to the end of European rule
Addresses language, culture, politics, not just racism and colonialism
Hierarchies of ethnicities are the backbne of colonial oppression
Eyewitness accounts for the Algerian War of Independence
Why would Fanon write "The Wretched of the Earth" in 1961?

What would you expect to see?
Sometimes violence is necessary to respond to the violence of colonialism with armed struggle
For Fanon, racism defined colonial life
Racism created stereotypes and social divisions
Non-white skin = inferior human
Non-white culture = inferior culture
This domination is supported by their superior military power

"Colonialism ends the minute the last soldier leaves the colony" (Sherifa Amin, 2016)

Why? Why not?
For decolonization to be successful, Fanon calls for:

1. The need to create identities and values that are not defined by European values
2. The emergence as individuals and nations out of the indignity of colonial rule
3. The understanding of the assumption of white superiority and the way it functioned
4. Negotiation with the colonizers will not work - it will only reproduce the cycle
5. People should not present themselves as culturally similar to their oppressors
6. It should involve the masses, all social classes towards the creation of a national identity
7. Create art and literature that opposes the tyranny of colonialism
Chapter 3 War and Human Nature pages 71 - 94
"Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" by Robert Pape (2005)
American university professor
Collected data on all suicide terroist attacks between 1980 and 2003 (315 attacks)
They were not individually motivated
Very few were related to religion
Objective of most was: national liberation
Most suicide terrorism acts are a response to foreign occupation
The use of military force by the foreign power will only lead to the rise of more suicide terrorists
Biological & psychological explanation
Instincts of aggression
Realist, negative view on human nature
Culturally learned
Behavior that is acquired
Liberal, positive viewb on human nature
"With the exception of certain rodents, no other vertebrate habitually destroys members of his own species. No other animal takes positive pleasure in the exercise of cruelty upon another of his own kind"
Animals aggression
Land, resources, mates

To establish hierarchy in groups

To defend their young
The Nature Argument: Aggression, Instincts & War
"Men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved, and who at most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowment is to be reckoned with a powerful share of aggressiveness... this instinct manifests itself sponataneously and reveals man as a savage beast"

-Sigmund Freud
Main argument: human beings possess an aggressive instinct. War is a result of this instinct.
Instinct (n):
behavioral response to stimuli
But why do humans kill?
Humans are lethal creatures even with no jaws or claws
Humans have developed the ability to be lethal,and to be lethal from a great distance
Why dont't animals fight to the death?
"The man who presses the releasing button is so completely screened against seeing, hearing or otherwise emotionally realizing the consequences of his action, that he can commit it with impunity"

-Konrad Lorenz
Weapons would explain us running around shooting each other. Not large scale warfare!

The aggressive instinct alone does not explain war.
The Twin Curses of Intelligence: Weapons & Abstract Thought
Your greatest asset and your biggest liability
It allows to invent weapons, come up with new ways to kill each other & allows us to conceive the world in different ways that justify war
Humans are social creatures who seek comfort in groups.
Group identity is almost always defined by who they exclude
"Only an animal with brain enough to think of empires and try to manage them could conceive of war. Only an animal so wedded of the truths inside his skull could travel many miles and expend endless, precious calories and hours and artifcats to destroy them"
"An unprejudiced observer from another planet, looking upon man as he is today, in his hand the atom bomb, the product of his intelligence, in his heart the aggressive drive inherited from his anthropoid ancestors, which this same intelligence cannot control, would not prophesy long life for the species"
The Nurture Argument: Culture, Social Learning and War
Main arguments:
No, war is not a constant feature of human existence
Peaceful societies do exist
Those who fight actually avoid lethal aggression
Aggressive instincts have nothing to do with war
War is the result of social learning, cultural norms, conditioning and environmental forces
(1) Peaceful Societies
Do not engage in "warfare"
Do raids count?
Extremely rare
Small communities in harsh environment
Scattered across the globe
But, they create a scenario where war is avoidable
(2) The Reluctance to Kill
Studies and research conducted on the b
of people
in battle
Some soldiers avoid killing
Most avoid killing if they are isolated from their commanders
"The average and healthy individual will not of his own volition take life if if possible to turn away from the responsibility" -General Marshall of the US Army
(3) War is Violence, not "aggression"
Not every act of violence is motivated by aggression
Violence for a specific purpose or objective is called
instrumental violence
the organized, planned use of violence by politicians that is designed for political, economic or social objectives
"In war, peole are like sheep, not wolves"
Even if aggressive instincts exist, they do not explain war
(4) Social Learning & Conditioning
"Individuals get medals, promotions and honors for committing the same acts for the state for which they would be imprisoned in any other circumstance"
How do we get people to kill when they have been taught their whole lives that killing is wrong?
People learn by observation, imitation, stimulus and response (reward & punishment)
How does culture view aggression?
How does culture convey war?
Films show mass slaughter as heroic
Violence is entertainment
War Propaganda: Dehumanization of the Enemy
Portray the enemy as less than human
People may find it difficult to kill other people
This defuses the taboo of killing
"As a rule, human beings do not kill other human beings. Before we enter into warfare or genocide, we must dehumanize those we mean to eliminate. The hostile imagination systematically destroys our natural tendency to identify with others of our species"
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