3 game changers in human war and civilization

Here I am after almost a month when the plan was to write something every day. I can blame it on the sessional exams but that won’t be the truth. This whole month I found myself thinking and researching modern cinematic techniques and other topics which I think do not comply with the theme of this blog. Today’s topic is one of those.

I recently came across this article explaining how gun powder changed the course of human history. I disagree. I think the cannon is just a better version of the catapult. Catapults came to the battle fiend far before arsenals did but we should start at the beginning. I think in all of human history there are only three things that really changed how humans fight a war; Wall, Catapult and Atomic Bomb

The first stage was obviously the invention of weapons. Early humans fought with arrows and spears. The clan with more fighting members and better weapons mostly attacked and plundered resources from other clans.

Wall: The idea of building walls came itself from the caves and mountains that the ancient man lived in to stay safe from the wild. This lead to different families coming together to built walls to defend themselves and also their food and animals against the attackers. These walled colonies grew into fortified cities. Walls provided great protection as they were easy to defend with less army against the invades who now had to meet rain of arrows and boiling oil and burning wood at there feet. These techniques make possible only due to the existence of wall made up for lack of numbers on the defending side and the size of armies decreased. The invaders now only had one choice, bring the defending army out of their fortified walls. For this they can either besiege the city -surround the city and cut off it’s resources – waiting for them to come out but this is the most inefficient tactic as fortified cities were mostly self sustaining and could survives for years cut of from the world. A famous story is Trojan war when Achaeans (Greeks) besieged Troy for ten years and still couldn’t succeed in forcing out the Trojans. (Read more on this here.) The second way was to attack the surrounding villages that come under that city state’s influence, destroy them and enslave the people to humiliate the fortified forces into coming out and defending their honor. This was more practical and was usually the path taken but still at any sign of war the people of surrounding villages mostly fled to seek refuge in the city walls and even if the villages were destroyed the army knew it was only good defending the city than the villages. Thus the time of invaders halted and cities thrives with in the walls. This was the time of independent city states and rise of many great historic cities.

Catapult: Projectile throwing siege engines made walls useless. Now the invaders came directly for the walls and break enter the city. The rules have changed. Now the defending party’s best approach had to come out and meet the army face to face in a battle before the attackers could reach the city and destroy it. Thus the balance again shifted to numbers. More army, skilled fighters and better weapons. Gun powder weapons came later in this race for better weapons. Maintaining a large standing army for years of peace was a burden on the economy. Thus the cities formed alliances to form combined armies that will protect each in event of war. This lead to more powerful armies, but mainly nations were formed. The nations with better armies invaded and destroyed others, take them under their wing. Now independent city states could not last without pledging elegance to the strongest nation of it’s area. The era of city states is over, the age of invaders have returned. This was the time of great conquerors like Alexander the great and Mehmood the conqueror who ruled half of the world. This was the age of great empire states like the Ottoman empire and even later till the British.

WoMD: Weapons of mass destruction, mainly the atomic bomb is quiet recent in human history. It again along with the formation of UN changed the rules of war. It is said that the atomic bomb is not for war but to stop war. While this may partly be true the beginning of it was not. We only realized this after it made it’s point with a horrifying display of it’s destructive potential. But war cannot be stopped. It is a part of what humans are. It goes on while the rules change. The balance again has shifted to strong defense rather than attaching numbers. There are no more invaders. Now nations do not fight face to face in a battle. The attacker is unknown until it attacks. This type of war is the most difficult to fight as the enemy attacks from within. Be it war on terror or any other military based conflict in the world, this is modern warfare. Now countries attack others by funding terrorist groups to fight wars for them or invading others under the banners of democracy, peace and justice. There is a new form of online warfare which might be the new stage in this but that is only if there is no nuclear war. Sadly we may delay a nuclear war but it is inevitable. War is a basic human instinct and  even the existence of atomic bombs is a time bomb counting down to earth’s doom. Will there be a next stage or will the cycle start from the beginning? we can only wait and see. I see hope. Mankind will prosper. We always have. How? I don’t know.


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