Was World War I worth it?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
So all wars of conquest are based on the right of conquest and everything else is just a side effect?
You could say that, Yes. A country that conquers territory for a reason other than settler colonialism is going to have just as much of a claim on its newly conquered territory as a country that conquers territory for the reason of settler colonialism. Personally, though, I would consider it inadvisable to conquer territory unless one is actually able to either significantly alter its demographics (without ethnic cleansing) or win large-scale support from the existing locals of this territory. In other words, if you're not going to be able to make your conquest "stick" over the long-run without extreme brutality, then it would be highly inadvisable to actually engage in this conquest in the first place.

If the first paragraph on the right of conquest is true and all such wars are based on the right of conquest, then all wars which are based on it are just. What makes the Mexican-American War particularly special so you declare it good?
I consider a part of the justness of a conquest to depend on whether one is actually able to make this conquest "stick" over the long(er)-run. That said, though, the reason that I consider the Mexican-American War to be "good" is that: A) I am an American and am eager to see my country expand, B) The US was able to significantly alter the demographics of this territory and thus make this conquest "stick", and C) The US made the Southwest much better off than it would have been had it remained under Mexican rule.

So you admit you don't know if the settlers and the natives wanted to be a part of the US? If this is the case the justification based on self determination kind of falls flat and is based on assumptions and speculation, not on raw information.
Yes, that's correct. While US settlers in Alta California did declare the California Republic, we don't actually know if this move had the support of a majority of Alta California's population.

So you admit to the earlier claims on living standards and decolonisation being a double standard?
Perhaps. I mean, as I said, one could argue that colonization could be beneficial for Third Worlders. I'm just not eager to have Western countries stay in the Third World if they are no longer welcome there--or, alternatively, if they decide that remaining in the Third World is too costly to them personally (either for financial reasons or for demographic reasons) even if Third Worlders would have benefited from a continued Western presence. In the US context, this would result in me opposing a US annexation of all of Mexico for demographic reasons (too many Mexicans to assimilate) but me supporting a US conquest of the Southwest due to the population there being relatively small (something like 100,000 people in total in 1848, I think). All of Mexico could benefit from a US presence, but the US body politic might have trouble absorbing all of Mexico's population. Of course, if the Mexicans genuinely want to be ruled by Americans but without being annexed to the US or having free migration rights to the US, then I would think that the US should be capable of arranging that. After all, the US does have a history of occupying countries in the Western Hemisphere and installing new governments in the Western Hemisphere. (The objectionable aspect of this, of course, would be if this would be done without the consent of the populations of these countries. If the people there actually do want US rule, then by all means let's have the US install a new government there led by Americans.)

Alright. Algeria was a bit of a special case, on the rest I more or less agree with.
Yeah, France really blundered in regards to Algeria by outright annexing its northern part (which appears to be where most of Algeria's population lives). The demographic balance for Frenchmen versus Algerians was something like 15:1 in 1850 but is only around 3:2 today. Thus, it's good that France let Algeria go--at least from the perspective of France. (Algerians could have benefited from continued French rule had they acquired political power relative to their numbers and also gotten a lot of subsidies from France--I suppose similar to how the Soviet government subsidized Central Asia before 1991.)

So, to be honest, I don't have a problem with the conquest of territory in itself; rather, what I have a problem with is conquering (and especially annexing) territory that ends up being too difficult for the metropole to swallow.

It will always be brutal to an extent, the settlers will displace the native population and outgrow them if the goal is to alter demographics significantly,
To what extent did Slavs displace the Balts in Latvia and Estonia after Stalin's death? I'm well aware of forced deportations of Balts by Stalin (something that I consider to be unacceptable), but what about Stalin's death? Did the mass migration of Slavs into Latvia and Estonia significantly affect the well-being of the Balts for reasons other than demographic ones? Or was there enough space in Latvia and Estonia to go around?

This reminds me of a comment that Michael Mills previously made either here or elsewhere. Specifically, Michael Mills said that the Balts shouldn't have worried about a mass influx of Germans into their territories after a hypothetical German WWI victory since a lot of Slavs (primarily Russians) moved there in the decades after WWII in real life without (significantly) displacing the existing residents of these territories. (Even without the forced deportations of Balts, there should have still been enough room in Latvia and Estonia to provide enough space for everyone, no?)

in some cases outright expulsion of natives might be necessary if the native population is too great.
Yeah, that would be unacceptable. I don't want to expand into territories only to kick out the natives. After all, the natives also have a right to be on this land. This is why I think that if one is going to expand into a certain territory and especially annex a certain territory, one should be prepared to give equality and full rights to the natives of these territories. I don't unequivocally view territorial expansion as a big thing but if territorial expansion does occur, then the people who already live there should not be hurt too badly by this. Else, this territorial expansion shouldn't occur in the first place.

Frankly, I'm not very eager to view territorial expansion as a zero-sum game. When it's too much of a zero-sum game, then one probably shouldn't expand in the first place.

And you admit that you don't support the treatment of natives after the Mexican-American War, so what justifies it as being a ''good'' war as opposed to every other war of conquest ever?
Well, as I said, I consider a "good" war (as opposed to a "stupid" war) to be one where one is able to conquer territory and able to acquire a permanent hold on this territory without extreme brutality. The US was able to do this by flooding the Southwest with US settlers and also by presumable gaining the support of the Mexicans who lived there--if not necessarily immediately, then at least over time. In this regard, I would view various other territorial conquests as likewise being legitimate. For instance, I think that Serbia was well within its rights to expand into Vojvodina and the heavily Serb parts of Bosnia in 1918 because it could have permanently won over the inhabitants of these territories. (Flooding these territories with Serb settlers was unnecessary and I don't know just how many Serb settlers would have actually been interested in this after WWI.) Ditto for Romania and Transylvania/southern Bukovina. I guess that I simply view the Mexican-American War as being an acceptable price to pay for the acquisition of the Southwest due to the importance of territories such as California to the US even nowadays. Maybe a Serb or a Romanian could have had a similar attitude towards WWI and their countries' resulting territorial conquests--though I personally think that the price for Serbian territorial expansion in WWI was way too high. (I'll have to check the WWI casualty figures for Romania and get back to you on that, though.) If Serbia (and perhaps Romania) could have expanded in WWI at a much cheaper cost in lives, though, then my opinion of WWI would have been much more favorable if I would have been a Serb or Romanian. Likewise, had the casualty levels for the Mexican-American War been much higher, then maybe I would have had a less romantic view of this war.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
Interesting way of thinking, I do not agree with most of it but still. Another solution is indirect rule, it worked for Rome, it worked for the British to an extent etc.
You mean having puppet states? That could have certainly been tried if the colonized peoples would have actually been on board with this. In theory, it's not too late to do this even now if the people in the formerly colonized countries are going to embrace this idea in sufficient numbers. Of course, this might be hard to pull off if most of the Europeans in certain Third World countries would have already left. If one wants European rule, one is actually going to need to have some Europeans among one's population. I suppose that the Third World could encourage Europeans (or East Asians) to move there and help them run their countries, though. They could serve as advisers, economists, planners, architects, doctors, et cetera--assuming, of course, that Third Worlders are going to be OK with this.

I do think that the Third World was hurt by brain drain as a result of decolonization--both the brain drain of Europeans and the brain drain of their own smart people. I wonder what it would have required for more Europeans to stay in the Third World after independence. For instance, how does one realistically get more Russians to stay in Central Asia after 1991?

Furthermore what of settler colonialism in places like Canada or Central Australia which are mostly uninhabited? I do not have such a problem with this as you can't really displace the population if there is nothing to displace.
I completely agree with this and would also like to point out that the US's expansion into the Southwest was not too much different from this. The Southwest had (I think) somewhere in the range of 100,000 people in 1848. That's not nothing, but it's not that much either. One could legitimately say that a lot of the Southwest was ripe for the picking in 1848.

It's an assumption nonetheless, not a fact. For all we know they could very well just block this freedom of movement and no one moves anywhere.
If they will block the freedom of movement, then there shouldn't be a problem, should there?

Speculation and alternate history can always go either way and since we are discussing real history here I would prefer to discuss what actually happened. Same can be applied to the earlier point of self-determination. For all we know the natives and even the settlers might've voted to stay with Mexico if there was a plebiscite. An assumption can go either way and for all intents and purposes it's fiction, no matter how reasonable it will just be guessing of something that never happened.
Agreed. Of course, one could make a similar argument in regards to open borders. I mean, we don't know for sure how many Third Worlders will move over to the First World in such a scenario--though I've seen a poll that states that around 640 million Third Worlders want to move to the First World.

I can ask you the same thing. What makes the Mexican-American War ''good''? Would you say that a war is good if you became a casualty? Is every other war of conquest also good and you just didn't mention it? And if the war of conquest is good, then it would perhaps be easier to ask a question of what war wasn't good? And finally, do you claim that the Mexican-American War is good just because your country expanded? Would you also claim it to be good if The British Empire swept the land via Canada and the US didn't get it.
I explained why I consider the Mexican-American War to be "good" here:

I consider a part of the justness of a conquest to depend on whether one is actually able to make this conquest "stick" over the long(er)-run. That said, though, the reason that I consider the Mexican-American War to be "good" is that: A) I am an American and am eager to see my country expand, B) The US was able to significantly alter the demographics of this territory and thus make this conquest "stick", and C) The US made the Southwest much better off than it would have been had it remained under Mexican rule.
Points B and C here would likewise apply to other countries' territorial conquests. So, if a country is able to win a wide base of support in a particular territory after conquering it--either as a result of settler colonialism or as a result of winning over the locals in large numbers--then that could certainly be considered a good war. This would be especially true if this conquest would have resulted in an improvement in the quality of life relative to what this would have been without this conquest. Of course, this is also the magnitude of territorial expansion to consider--as in, just how much does this territorial expansion actually benefit the home country? The US was able to strongly benefit from the Mexican Cession because it was able to settle tens of millions of people there, but the Gadsden Purchase has much less value for the US since it could only settle a couple million or so people there. I'm not suggesting that magnitude is too crucial here, but I would certainly place a higher value on more beneficial territorial expansions if all other things (such as the amount of casualties that are necessary to acquire this territory) will remain equal.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
Also, for what it's worth, Master, I would actually have a more favorable opinion of the French conquest of Algeria if the number of Algerians would have remained at two million or even shrunk below the two million level as opposed to skyrocketing to 40+ million--and, of course, if France would have treated the Algerians much better from the start. It's the demographic issue that especially causes me to view the French conquest of Algeria and especially the French annexation of Algeria in a highly undesirable light with the benefit of hindsight. I mean, Yes, France did have a claim to Algeria based on the right of conquest--but I would have simply questioned both the desirability and the wisdom of this French action due to the benefit of hindsight that I now have.

BTW, I realized that I forgot to answer one part of what you wrote, so here goes: No, I would personally prefer not to be a casualty in a Mexican American-style war. Of course, this in itself does not necessarily mean much. I mean, I wouldn't want to be a casualty in any war but I would nevertheless acknowledge that some wars are worth fighting for--such as World War II and a war to protect NATO member countries from the Soviet Union/Russia. I would prefer to avoid a draft whenever possible and I would probably not volunteer for military service even if I wasn't fat and was actually in tip-top physical shape, but if there would have been a draft and I could not get out of it, then I would have to fight and I would reluctantly accept this as reality. That's just life, isn't it?
 
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