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Old June 4 2012, 05:33 PM   #52
Lieutenant Commander
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Re: The Dominion War brought out the worst in Starfleet

Edit_XYZ wrote:
I DID analyze history in absolute numbers - which do matter.
Agreed there.

Edit_XYZ wrote:
And then I analyzed it in percentage to the total population - which is also highly relevant in establishing the savagery of an era (the chance of being killed by war/etc of a random person; how much humans were willing to kill each other until they said 'That's enough'; etc)
Not so much there. Proportion of the total world's population doesn't matter except on the most obtuse and abstract level. (There's a reason why Pinker's Whiggish hypothesis is characterised by wiser minds as a comfort blanket for the smug, after all.) T'Girl already did a better job than I could have at pointing out the absurdities.

A more proper measure would be the proportion of the population of the polities affected by the conflict, assuming they didn't have spillover effects. But then you have to take into account the rules of engagement, the proportion of civilians to combatants, and all sorts of other inconvenient-yet-necessary information which has a rather distressing tendency to get in the way of the neat little self-congratulatory Aesop.

Edit_XYZ wrote:
What I did NOT analyze was the technology used, how 'sanitized' the killing was.
Regarding this - there is a difference in savagery/sociopathy between killing people with video-game-like means and maiming and killing them by hitting them with a bat until their heads cave in.
I would suggest to you, then, that you are therefore leaving out a critical element of the analysis. As an ethnic Jew whose great-grandparents were lucky enough to have left Europe before the Shoah, I don't think the Germans were any less 'savage' or 'sociopathic' toward my people than, say, the Hutus were to the Tutsis in Rwanda, even though one extermination was with bullets and cyanide and the other extermination was with machetes and clubs. Indeed, I would say they were more so - the machinery of war makes the horror less real to a human being caught up in perpetrating it. That was the point of 'A Taste of Armageddon'. Why do people not react with the same revulsion to drone strikes that wipe out entire innocent families as they would to, say, the massacre at My Lai? Why are people willing to accept an endless 'War on Terror' waged with such tactics when they would not accept that in Vietnam?

Edit_XYZ wrote:
And you seem to work hard just to exclude affirmations about war/atrocity/etc from any way of verifying them (much of your post so far was dedicated to excluding any means of testing them: ~don't use numbers/percentages, generalisations are too large, etc).
On the contrary. I am a statistician, which means I can tell good figures from bogus ones.

The raw numbers are helpful, but they don't necessarily tell the whole story.

The proportional numbers are bogus for the reasons aforementioned; they don't tell a story at all, except the one that takes place entirely in hindsight. If you're a soldier in the field or even a strategist for a nation at war, the population of the world is probably not a primary factor you're likely to have considered in determining how far to take it.

Edit_XYZ wrote:
Why don't you take a look at how the concepts of war and peace were viewed before enlightenment philosophy took hold?: war was regarded as the normal state of affairs and peace as an anomaly.
That's simply not true either. To use one example, the Middle Ages in Europe featured some very complex thinking on the nature of war and peace, and war was hardly seen as inevitable (hence the prevalence of just war theory). War was equally distasteful to the Medieval mind as it was to ours - in the High Middle Ages an ecclesiastical movement was developed which called for the control of violence and the protection of non-combatants, which crossed over into the secular obligations of the feudal lords in what came to be called the 'King's Peace'. The Germans of that time regarded with horror and revulsion the idea that war could be pursued anywhere and at any time - it was an insult to both Church and Emperor.

It is also simply wrong to attribute all desire for peace, even in the modern age, merely to Enlightenment thinking. Metternich was very much opposed to what he called the 'presumption' of the Enlightenment, and by extension to the liberals and nationalists of his day; he viewed them as dangerous and hubristic. Metternich was influenced not only by the counterrevolutionary end of Enlightenment thought (namely Burke) but also by counter-Enlightenment figures such as Joseph de Maistre. Yet he was also the most effective anti-war advocate of his time.

Edit_XYZ wrote:
Also, during the XX century, war/etc decreased globally, not just in Europe. About Europe - the longest period of peace in history was from ~1945 to the present, surpassing the two intervals from the XIX century.
I would argue that the period between 1945 and 1990 was a peaceful one for Europe. After 1990, not so much - or perhaps I am assigning Yugoslavia too much importance.

But what you had between 1945 and 1990 was a balance of power between two blocs which could counter and check each other through the threat of mutually-assured destruction, and which upheld the states in their spheres of influence through a generous aid-based foreign policy. That was a stable state, for the time. What you had after 1990 was a growing imperial hegemony which destabilised state structures where they were not already strong (hence the outbreak of violent anarchy, terrorism and VNSAs throughout the developing world after the collapse of the USSR), and which is now giving way to another balance of power - one which could take some time to create a new peace.
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