Walking casually in a European town, I bumped into a bunch of pacifists near the local cathedral who carried “War solves nothing” and “No terrorist acts can be prevented by war” signs. Though my attempts at convincing them otherwise were futile, the discussion itself was curious. In a sense, they are right: wars never prevented new wars and cannot prevent terrorism. But, as Keynes remarked, “In the long run we’re all dead.” Taking too long a perspective nullifies any solutions because current measures have very little impact on remote events. A war on the Taliban would not affect German terrorists a hundred years from now. Nothing would. In the long run, there are no solutions: any war fails to produce eternal peace, but so does every peace treaty. France and Germany fought some time after signing a peace treaty, and signed a peace treaty after fighting. War solves nothing, and peace also solves nothing; in the long run, nothing solves anything. But within reasonably short time frames, wars are remarkably effective: Germans were stopped by war, and so were Arabs on multiple occasions. The Israeli war on Palestinian terrorism stopped the two Intifadas. Peace, on other hand, changes nothing but only formalizes the facts established by war. After the Germans were utterly defeated, peace ensued regardless of whether a peace treaty had been signed. After Israel defeated Syria, there was peace even without a peace treaty. War changes facts, and peace is only the name for the resulting change.

war solves everything