Despite many promises to the contrary, war never seems to cease. While in the 20th century war was waged between nations, today it is a war on terror, with radical factions performing horrific acts that ultimately involve every world power. There seems to be no end in sight. If we are to survive as a species, we must eventually do away with war. What might be its replacement as the primary international activity of humankind?
War to Solve War
First we must realize that war has never been a solution to anything. A hard look all the way back to the beginning of recorded history will reveal an obvious but always-ignored fact: there is never a real winner in a war. It has been a never-ending cycle of death, destruction and ruin.
We have learned in the hardest of ways that war itself never solves war. World War I, fought between 1914 and 1918, was at the time the bloodiest massacre that had ever occurred. It involved some 27 countries and four allied powers. Some 16 million people died, and 20 million more were injured. At its conclusion, World War I was touted as “the war to end all wars.” The world was quite confident that after such a brutal and costly conflict, war would forever after cease on Planet Earth.
But the seeds of the next even more disastrous conflict, World War II, were sewn right with the conclusion of World War I. Germany was totally defeated and left destitute, collapsed and bankrupt, was wrongly charged with starting the war (it was actually begun by Austria) and made to pay restitution to the rest of the countries involved. Like some kind of twisted demonic phoenix, Germany rose from its abject defeat and exacted a terrible revenge on Europe and Western Asia.
The second world war went far beyond its predecessor in cost of life: over 2.5 percent of the world’s population died. Additionally this war brought about the most horrific weapon the world had ever seen—the atomic bomb. Like the war itself, the A-bomb promised to be the weapon that would end war forever. It was theorized—as we now know quite incorrectly—that if all world powers were armed with this technology, no one would use it and peace would reign. Fortunately after two terrifyingly destructive uses, the atomic bomb hasn’t been utilized in a combat situation. But that certainly has not stopped one tragic conflict after another, from Korea to Afghanistan, from coming to pass and continuing to wreak destruction.
In terms of bringing about world harmony and prosperity, war has been a miserable failure. Its real victims have been the civilian populations of the countries involved, who never wished to have their cities bombed or anyone else’s lives destroyed. A truth given us by the founders of the Austrian School of Economics is that war does not produce wealth; Nations do not prosper when they are burned to the ground. This has certainly been proven over and over.
Global Commerce: A Replacement for War
As discussed at length in my recent ebook Leading from the War Room: Building a Battle-Ready Sales Force, as businesses we are fighting a kind of “war” too. But these battles have a far different objective: that of winning the customer. We’re not out to kill people. Moreover we don’t wear uniforms, carry no flags. Our weapons are our ideas. We are simply here to conduct peaceful trade.
Ultimately our leaders will have to wake up to the fact that commerce and war do not coexist well. Nations at war cannot trade with each other. Today’s Internet makes it more possible than ever for international companies and entrepreneurs to conduct commerce with each other—but this cannot happen if they are in armed conflict. Our leaders would do well to realize that global commerce is a far more sustainable and profitable path to prosperity, and that ultimately commerce should replace war completely.
Realize, then, that your role as entrepreneur, sales manager, or sales rep is one that could ultimately lead to a far better world. Do your job well, and we may very well make it.