The Modern Scourge of Civilized Men


“Nothing is more useless in developing a nation’s economy than a gun, and nothing blocks the road to social development than the financial burden of war. War is the arch enemy of national progress and the modern scourge of civilized men.”

                                        – King Hussein, Address at Tulane University, April 1976 (Link)

2 thoughts on “The Modern Scourge of Civilized Men

  1. Happy Christmas, Patrick!

    I find the John Lennon song and the video (yes, our email is now good enough to see them) far more powerful than the words of King Hussein. Undoubtedly that’s because of emotion.

    Watch ‘The Imitation Game’, which documents the breaking of the German Enigma code (thereby shortening the war). I can’t watch that film without feeling great emotion. Yet those who broke Enigma and used their knowledge to help end the war did so by suppressing their emotion. They suppressed it by logic. And logic is a better way of both fighting and ending a war than emotion.

    And while King Hussein was truly exceptional in his time and place, I doubt that ‘War is the arch enemy of national progress.’ I rather think the opposite is the case: nations are formed and nations ‘progress’ through war. Unfortunate perhaps, but that’s the way it goes. Defeat nationalism to defeat (national) war.

    • Hi Robert, Merry Christmas to you too. I did see the Imitation Game, and enjoyed it. I see your point about logic and emotion, I do agree that nationalism (like most kinds of absolutism) are a big source of the problem. But I think emotion has its place too. I can sympathize with the people in the video suffering from war and use logic to say that I would not want to feel the way they do. I am not in their shoes by sheer luck — I have little power over other people deciding that they want to go to war. I think it’s logical to try to prevent conflicts from happening to the extent that we can.

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