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War & Research





HereticMonkey
A friend and I had a debate recently. His point was that a country in war will do little research or production as its resources would necessarily be limited to the war effort and that only efforts related directly to the effort would be followed through on. Also, that all wartime research would be based solely on research done prior to the war, and that, even though there my be research done during war, it was limited to countries that were not in the conflict itself.

I countered, pointing out that, using WWII, Germany's production actually increased, and that war was good for the economy of the countries involved. Also, medical discoveries and research actually increase, if for no other reason than that the medical professionals have access to situations that they simply don't during peace time (such as the research done on stomachs during the Civil War thanks to cannon shot). Also, that there are a lot of inventions and technologies that required the war to make feasible, such as rockets and computers (even though a lot of the research had been done prior to the war, the war allowed more experimentation as well as refinement of that research).

In essence, which point is closer to how things work out in reality: That wars stop the country cold, or that, cynically, wars are overall god for the country?

HM
SonLight
More advances are generally made during war than times of peace. In some cases, the potential for war also speeds up research.

Consider computers: some pre-ww 2 research, but most of the key advances took place in order to achieve military objectives like pointing artillery, and in fear that the enemy would get ahead of us. Code breaking was a massive effort, and made use of the new computers. After ww 2, we got into a space race primarily due to fear.

I'm deliberately ignoring direct war effort research, but many of the advances in military technology greatly contribute to society as a whole after the war. Consider jet airplanes and nuclear power for example.

It seems that societies commonly stagnate and accept the status quo in times of prolonged peace.
yagnyavalkya
Actually research is anything as you rightly pointed out during WWII there was a lot of research
In fact war creates more necessities than in peace times so as you know necessity is the mother of invention there will be more research although there will be destructive spin off
More of research will be concentrated on war supporting obejects
ExecuKev
a war, such as WWII, may have sped up advances in research etc... but it doesn't mean that there would not have been developed in the future regardless.

Technology designed for war, may have practical applications outside of that area, but the cost involved in development of such technologies can become debilitating.

Given that the post-cold war, with no actual direct conflict (aside from that small matter in Vietnam...) Soviet Union was in financial ruin from the decades of R&D tech war with the US, development would no doubt occur regardless of war.

A desire to be Number one in an international version of "Keeping up with the Jones'" is what strives us to develop. Plus the commercial aspects of discoveries nowadays drives us on even further.
MaxStirner
HereticMonkey wrote:
A friend and I had a debate recently. His point was that a country in war will do little research or production ...


I would be interested in hearing what sources your friend sited or what his arguments were, it seems an utterly indefendable position. It is regretful that we tend to excel the most when it comes to turning something or other into a weapon. Most often, an advance in chemistry, biology, physics, genetics, ... is found on the battlefield long before it is put to constructive, peaceful use. I sometimes fear that we have not evolved much in the last few thousand years, only our slingshots have improved somewhat.
HereticMonkey
He didn't have a source; it was pure logic. In essence, he figured that all of a countries resources would focus on the war, and so once it went to war all of its resources would be focused on making sure that the men in the field would be taken care of. Since all of the resources would be focused on support, none would be left over for research of production. Thus, the nation would need to have all of its production and research taken care of before the war.

His entire point was that, in times of war, only nations not involved in the fighting profited from it, and only they could do research. A country involved in war could only do research based on prior accomplishments, and would be unable to engage in new research. Consider the jet engine: Although it was invented in 1935 (as far as Germany was considered; the English version had already taken off), the majority of improvements were done well after Germany had entered the war. For that matter, transfusions, while invented in 1818, could not be stored until work done during WWI.

My counter was that most medical research was done during wartime, as those opportunities just weren't available during peacetime. For example, the information on stomachs didn't really take off until privates were shot by cannonballs, and so bags of suet could be observed in the stomach. This, of course, doesn't allow for the "work" done by German and Japanese doctors. Also, there is a lot of interesting weapons that weren't even envisioned until during the war (such as boats made completely of ice or some very interesting firearms).

Although the basic point is sort of valid, it ignores that the majority of research is done after the start of war. Worse, it ignores that war is actually a decent kickstart to the nation's economy (Germany's GDP in particular went from 3.1MD to 4.5MD from 1938 to 1944), and that production actually increased in terms. Whenever I asked him for a source, he ignored that, and figured I was being an idiot.

HM
SonLight
Quote:
A country involved in war could only do research based on prior accomplishments, and would be unable to engage in new research.


I suggest the US nuclear research, code named Manhattan Project, as a counterexample. Germany had done some relevant research prior to the war, but the US had not, and only began the project for fear that Germany might succeed first. Since all researchers stand on the shoulders of their forebears, I suppose it is possible to debate this point. One TV program called it "the biggest research project in history". I didn't check that, but surely it ranks high in the list.
ZenFountain
To put it in a nutshell, the days of total war are behind us courtesy of nuclear weapons. From an American perspective, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraqi Freedom have not been total wars, that is a war where all our resources are committed to the war effort. The current conflicts are running about 1% of GDP which is a minuscule amount in the larger picture of defense spending, though the total cost in the long term will be shocking.

The argument that war is actually good for an economy is an old one and right now the answer should be a resounding no. We (America) recovered from WWII as the economic powerhouse with a growing economy. After the Vietnam War we had almost a decade of stagflation because war spending had upset balances of trade and monetary stability. If we don't rein in spending now, we risk being put under the same pressures. I'd say we have about five years to sort out government spending and readjust entitlements, otherwise we'll have a total economic and social meltdown. All the money that is being poured into the current wars and defense spending is largely wasted.
Klaw 2
Well it would depend on what kind of war would be fought.
Modern wars like in Irak they infact dont cost civilians (of the attacking country) anything, everythings stay the same for the them. There are no real consequences other than casulties and protest. And the scientist aren´t affected yet. After the wars people make new inventions to prevent certain things to happen again in the next war. To prevent accidents, or make better weapons.

However a country ALWAYS makes new devellopments war or no war but most like faster than normal when there´s a `big war` with years of fighting.
During the preporations for the World Wars, the World Wars themselves and the Cold war. Both sides wanted to be at an higher technological level than the other and spend a lot of money on technology and production concentrated for the war effort. However civilians during the world wars had less resources. During the wars of the last 150 years the fighting country´s made more technological improvement than they would have without war.

Of course when a country is heavily damaged like germany in the last year of WOII the production and devollopment drops dramatically.
yagnyavalkya
Modern wars are either on the religious ideology or it is fought with superior technology the tech being economic warfare where in rich countries try and force the lesser smaller and poorer countries to submit to their trade policies so that these countries are under the control of the richer countries
in the religious war some religions have a so called rule that the people of other religion should not live peacefully with their people hence the only option left with the other people is to convert or die and hence there is a war
so these kinds of wars are unjust for that matter any war is unjust
war is fought for the following reasons in history
1. Land
2. Gold
3. Women ( not now anymore)
in future it will be fought for
1. water
2. Oil
3. Food
the degree of weaponry will greatly affect the course of war
remember what Einstein had said
he said something to the effect that if a nuclear war is fought the next war will be with bows and arrows
Solon_Poledourus
yagnyavalkya wrote:
the degree of weaponry will greatly affect the course of war
remember what Einstein had said
he said something to the effect that if a nuclear war is fought the next war will be with bows and arrows

"I don't know what kind of weapons will be used in the third world war, assuming there will be a third world war. But I can tell you what the fourth world war will be fought with -- stone clubs." ~ A. Einstein

Wars can promote research, resulting in the development of new technology, but war is not a necessity for technological advancement. The question of "do wars stop the country cold" or "are wars overall good for the country", in technology terms, is a tough one. Likely, the answer is somewhere in the middle. Some people say that necessity, being the mother of investion, is more common during wars, and this kicks research into full motion. Crossing a river can be a necessity too, which can create a boom in bridge building technology, and this knowledge can be applied to many other types of structures as well. Technology can be advanced in times of peace just as well, or even better than, in times of war. If only people felt the urgency of advancement without having to be threatened by warfare to do so. Unfortunately, during times of peace, people get lazy and don't want to do difficult things. So technology seems to be limited to entertainment and cheap throw-away production during these times, whereas wartime technology creates much bigger, more permanent technology.
slashnburn99
i agree the flipside of war is technology improvements
Chinmoy
ya, that dates back to the gunpowder ages, when the chinese tried to better their blasts and optimise thier shts, with the impact and the blast time.
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