THE ROOT CAUSES OF WAR
To take a scientific attitude about war and peace, we must carry the causal analysis a step further. If peace movements are caused by wars and war threats, then we must ask, what are the causes of these wars, both in the short term and in the long term?
Before analyzing the causes of wars, it is necessary to dismiss a false analysis that has been popularized in recent years, the myth that war is caused by a "war instinct." The best biological and anthropological data indicate that there is no such thing as a war instinct despite the attempt of the mass media and educational systems to perpetuate this myth. Instead, "the same species that invented war is capable of inventing peace" (note 15).
Since there are several kinds of war, it is likely that there are several different kinds of causes for war. There are two kinds of war in which the United States has not been engaged for over two centuries. The first are wars of national liberation such as the American Revolution or today's revolutions in Nicaragua and South Africa being waged by the Sandinistas and the African National Congress. The second are wars of revolution in which the previous ruling class is thrown out and replaced by another. In the British and French Revolutions of earlier eras the feudal land-owners were overthrown by the newly rising capitalist class. In the revolutions of this century in Russia, China, Cuba, etc. the capitalists, in turn, were overthrown by forces representing the working class and landless farmers.
The six wars and threats of war that have caused American peace movements in this century have been wars of imperial conquest, inter-imperialist rivalry, and capitalist-socialist rivalry. What are the root causes of these wars in the short term? For the following analysis, I will rely upon some of America's best economic historians (note 16).
The Spanish-American and Philippine Wars of 1898, according to historian Walter LaFeber, were inevitable military results of a new foreign policy devoted to obtaining markets overseas for American products. The new foreign policy was the response to a profound depression that began in 1893 with unemployment soaring to almost 20 percent. Farm and industrial output piled up without a market because American workers, being unemployed, had no money to buy them. Secretary of State Gresham "concluded that foreign markets would provide in large measure the cure for the depression." To obtain such markets, the U.S. went into competition with the other imperialist empires such as Britain and Spain. The U.S. intervened with a naval force to help overthrow the government of Hawaii in 1893, intervened diplomatically in Nicaragua in 1894, threatened war with England over Venezuela in 1895, and eventually went to war with Spain in 1898 and invaded the Philippines in 1898. To quote from the title of LaFeber's book, the U.S. established a "new empire."
(continued on next page)