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Thesis Statement: The western way of war shaped conflicts ideally through factors like economic power, possession of superior technology, an aggressive military tradition characterized by battlefield dominance of the enemy, and discipline in training and soldiers' morale.
Economic Power: Financial and Economic Power Based on Capitalism
Capitalist were the minority owners of means of production. According to (Parrott, 2011), the then economic struggle for profit gave the capitalist class motive to use armed forces for selfish gains. Although all members of the capitalist movement did not have interests in international trade, they all argued over tariffs and free trade.
Capitalism caused international rivalries that directly fueled war. The system of capitalism is rooted in conflicts and war was a product of such conflicts. War is inherent to the capitalist system as opposed to being an accidental interruption of peaceful business operation of capitalists. By extension, war is a context in the west that underlies in all operations of capitalist operation at all times. Capitalistic fountains are embraced when forming governments and often when trying to solve problems and antagonisms these governments resolve to war when other means do not yield their preferred outcomes. Ideally, war is a continuation of a policy which uses a different perspective (Van der Pijl, 2015).
Economic and financial competitions that happen between capitalist's groups result in the encroachment of markets and other resources that belong to the rival group. To effect these wars, governments apply tariffs, subsidies, quotas and other means to push target goods out of the market. Eventually, the struggles result into wars while the capitalist groups under oppression seek new conquest to acquire control over new markets and expand their territories of abundance that will provide minerals, exploitable labor, and other resources. To evidence this, during the first world war, the French military leader wrote that they were pursuing to acquire untapped outlets that would provide ever-increasing finance and to acquire industries that would supersede the consumption rates (Parrott, 2011).
Superior technology and discipline have defined the Western civilizations campaigns. The tradition continues, and the fact holds true in U.S military campaigns. The west has placed a lot of emphasis throughout most of its military history on superior technologies to gain an edge over their rivals (Pomeranz, 2013). Discipline has helped serve the western military well and helped them achieve victories in spite of having smaller armies than those of their enemies'. A good example comes from the conquering of the Inca Empire by the Spanish. The last Incan Emperor Atahualpa was defeated with Francisco Pizarro having only 180 soldiers (Pomeranz, 2013). The Spanish conquered the Incans despite the numerical disadvantage because of super weapons such as cavalry, guns, and artillery which seemed aliens to the Incans. Moreover, Western leaders like George Washington and Napoleon have been keen learners of the military strategies due to their beliefs that effective army strategies are timeless. Ideologies and religions have played a no role when forming the western forces military cultures, unlike other regions.
The western forces were guided by the mission that victory is achieved through the annihilation of the rival military bringing the enemy to unconditional surrender (Pomeranz, 2013). The western troops were not afraid to engage or be ruthless in war. Focus and discipline on technological advancements was a primary focus of some military cultures like Japan and China. The two primary factors that separated the western forces from others were technological power to finance changes and flexibility.
Aggressive Military Tradition: Battlefield Dominance of the Enemy
The military theory has fairy remained constant. Over hundreds of years, the development and advancement of warfare have gone through slight changes only. Philosophies and principles that govern military operations and armies' conduct remain in unchanged. For instance, the concept of winning in western warfare are attached to decisiveness. It is a requirement that the enemy or opponent has to surrender fully and failure to do so results to sound and devastating defeat (Lindemann, 2015). Only then can the warring army term the war as complete. Ideally, any war that does not end with either of the options is termed as incomplete and in due time will be fought to surrender. Somehow the west created a military dominance since most non-western nations were disadvantaged in weaponry.
The tradition and goal of western armies changed to claiming total dominance in the battlefields of the enemy. The rival created through the demand of a complete surrender or devastating defeat bred animosity between the warring parties. For the need to have peace and co-existence, the two parties would create treaties that would guard peace. However, the rivalry and conflict remain. Even though sometimes it is unsaid, the conflicts are expressed financial and economic relationships and war.
Discipline in Training and Morale
The ability of the West to harness the military lessons learned from past revolutions, and its aptitude to connect the fundamental changes in the social, political and military landscapes, caused the western way of war to shape conflicts. Soldiers' morale and commitment to the job enhances the reliability such that the military does not have to train large numbers of soldiers. Rather the military invests in training few troops and offers them specialized and individualized training. The concept of special training is still relevant in the western; for instance, in the United States marine (Lindemann, 2015).
Extreme levels of discipline and loyalty are taught and reinforced among special soldiers. With high levels of discipline instilled, soldiers are sure to protect the safety of tasks assigned to them regardless of the situation. Instilling discipline, specialized education and training skills, the specialized soldiers become excellent fighters in skills, intelligence, and competence. Westerners are hence assured that even with uneven numbers in a battlefield sufficient to put them into risks of defeat, their specialized soldiers can be resourceful and secure victory since the best fighter is bound to win. The tendency to acquire victory even when seemingly disadvantaged provokes feelings of unfairness and inferiority among the warring parties. Rival nations create and increase their conflicts with the western and hope to seek vengeance on fairgrounds in future.
It is certain that the western way of war shaped an avenue for conflicts. Some of the factors that contributed significantly include the possession and manipulation of economic and financial power through capitalistic ideologies and interests to acquire more profits. Also, the western possessed superior technology that provided an unfair advantage against the rivals. Further, the military traditions of the west were characterized by aggression offering total devastating or complete surrender as the only options, before they could end a war. The principle of battlefield dominance is still maintained in the military. Lastly, discipline in training and investing to train highly motivated soldiers gives the west an added advantage to winning the war.
Lindemann, M. (2015). Global Crisis: War, Climate Change & Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century by Geoffrey Parker. German Studies Review, 38(1), 157-159. doi:10.1353/gsr.2015.0044
Parrott, D. (2011). Had a Distinct Template for a 'Western Way of War' been Established before 1800? The Changing Character of War, 48-63. doi:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199596737.003.0003
Pomeranz, K. (2013). Weather, War, and Welfare: Persistence and Change in Geoffrey Parker's Global Crisis. Historically Speaking, 14(5), 30-33. doi:10.1353/hsp.2013.0044
Van der Pijl, K. (2015). Global Rivalries From the Cold War to Iraq. doi:10.2307/j.ctt18fs7s8
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