This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

November 5, 2011

Why countries went to war with each other and how it changed

Countries have been going to war against each other for as long as there have been countries, or groups of people for that matter. And the reason was always the same: to steal things from another country, or to defend your country from having it's stuff stolen. It may seem hard to believe these days but a couple of hundred years ago, respectable countries were really no more than pirates. If a British ship was carrying, for example coffee, a French ship would shoot at it, and if it won the battle, take the stuff away. Whatever people had, other people wanted to get, and it took force to get it and force to defend it.

It made economic sense for countries to go to war. If they won, they got stuff. A lot more than what it cost for battleships, bullets, that sort of thing. As soon as you conquered another country, you could take all their stuff, and it was mostly gold. This all changed in the twentieth century, after World War II.

If you ever wondered what Japan was thinking in 1941 in attacking a country like the USA, well, they were hoping to get our stuff. It seems strange to us now, but that's why countries went to war, especially if they thought that they would be attacking a weak opponent. This may have seen dastardly and cowardly in retrospect, but historically speaking, this is what countries did. They beat up each other and took the loser's stuff. And if you started a fight and lost, which is what Japan did, you expected to lose your stuff.

But it didn't happen that way. When the USA won, they didn't take spoils of war from Japan, or Germany, or Italy. Hey, we already had a lot of stuff! This must have really confused the old-timers back then. In fact, the USA helped out the countries that it defeated, helped rebuild cities that had been destroyed in the war, helped people who had been hurt. In fact, many people today say that the USA didn't help enough. But that they helped at all was a brand-new idea for a victorious country. No country in the history of warfare had ever done that.

It was quite an achievement.

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