Myth: War Is Beneficial (summary)

W ars do not benefit the people where they are waged, and do not benefit nations that send their militaries abroad to wage wars. Nor do wars help to uphold the rule of law — quite the reverse. Good outcomes caused by wars are dramatically outweighed by the bad and could have been accomplished without war.

War Does Not Benefit Its Victimslibya

There is a fundamental error in supposing that a new war is likely to bring benefits to a nation where it is waged, given the dismal record of every war that has occurred heretofore. Scholars at both the anti-war Carnegie Endowment for Peace and the pro-war RAND Corporation have found that wars aimed at nation-building have an extremely low to nonexistent success rate in creating stable democracies.  And yet the temptation rises zombie-like to believe that Iraq or Libya or Syria or Iran will finally be the place where war creates its opposite.

Wars fought by wealthy nations against poor ones tend to be one-sided slaughters; quite the opposite of beneficial, humanitarian, or philanthropic exercises.  In a common mythical view, wars are fought on “a battlefield” — a notion that suggests a sportsmanlike contest between two armies apart from civilian life. On the contrary, wars are fought in people’s towns and homes. These wars are one of the most immoral actions imaginable, which helps explain why governments that wage them lie about them to their own people.

The wars leave lasting damage in the form of brewing hatred and violence, and in the form of a poisoned natural environment.

Wars and militarism and other disastrous policies can generate crises that could benefit from outside assistance, be it in the form of nonviolent peaceworkers and human shields or in the form of police. But twisting the argument that Rwanda needed police into the argument that Rwanda should have been bombed, or that some other nation should be bombed, is a gross distortion.

War Does Not Bring Stability

War can be imagined as a tool for enforcing the rule of law, including laws against war, only by ignoring the hypocrisy and the historical record of failure. War actually violates the most basic principles of law and encourages their further violation.

War Does Not Benefit the War Makersinjuries

War and war preparations drain and weaken an economy. The myth that war enriches a nation that wages it, as opposed to enriching a small number of influential profiteers, is not supported by evidence. In addition:

  • Greater consumption and destruction does not always equal a superior standard of living.
  • The benefits of peace and international cooperation would be felt even by those learning to consume less.
  • The benefits of local production and sustainable living are immeasurable.
  • Reduced consumption is required by the earth’s environment regardless of who does the consuming.
  • One of the largest ways in which wealthy nations consume the most destructive resources, such as oil, is through the very waging of the wars.
  • Green energy and infrastructure would surpass their advocates’ wildest fantasies if the funds now invested in war were transferred there.

Research and development would be more efficient and accountable and more directed into useful areas if separated from the military. Similarly, humanitarian aid missions could be run better without the military.

War Creators’ Motives Are Not Noble

Wars are marketed as humanitarian, because many people, including many government and military employees, have good intentions. But those at the top deciding to wage war almost certainly do not. In case after case, less than generous motives have been documented.

Read more.

Resources with additional information.

Other Myths:

War is inevitable.

War is necessary.


  1. Pingback: Building a Global Movement to End All War by David Swanson | Dandelion Salad

  2. The U.S.A. cannot afford any more warfare. America definitely needs to change our economy away from the Military-Industrial Complex on which it is now based and into peaceful and socially uplifting programs and institutions that promote a better future for our children and our planet. WHEN THE POWER OF LOVE OVERCOMES THE THE LOVE OF POWER / THE WORLD WILL KNOW PEACE.

  3. Thank you for ALL of this! I’m in total agreement.

  4. war is very beneficial for 1 thing: technological advancements. war is pretty bad now days, but the first missile the Nazis devolved was retrofitted for the first space crafts. the only reason we have the micro wave was due to new radio tower design in the 1930s

  5. Grey Whitebloom says:

    I have to back up “jogn”, WWII showed us how war can induce urgency and collaboration in individuals and entire nations, that just would not occur without the presence of conflict. Take as an example the atomic bomb. This was an astounding advancement of technology in such a short time and it was accomplished through Anglo-American (and Canadian) cooperation.

  6. This website is great, these arguments are just what the American people need. I think this quote speaks volumes as well. “Nobody wants war,” is a saying people still believe but this quote below I think buries that statement. It’s also interesting the way the Nazis used patriotism.

    From Nuremberg Diary by Gustave Gilbert:
    Herman Goering 1935″Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

    “There is one difference,” Gilbert pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

    “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

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