April 28th, 2014
11:28 AM ET

Why wars can mean less...war

Fareed speaks with Ian Morris, author of War, What Is It Good For? Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots, about the changing nature of conflict.

Is that data pretty clear, that particularly among the major states of the world, there has been a decline in war?

Yes, I think so. And what you see is this huge paradox. And strategists love to say that everything about war is paradoxical. But the biggest paradox is that in this weird way, war has driven processes that have made the world a less violent place over the very long term.

Explain that. So you're saying war makes peace.

Yes, which, again, just sounds completely insane. But the way it seems to have worked is if you go back 15,000 years – the end of the Ice Age – and the world, of course, warming up at the end of the Ice Age, and farming begins, populations begin to grow very rapidly. And before that, if two bands of hunter-gatherers got into a fight with each other, the losing band always had the option of moving up and hunting and gathering someplace else. The world is relatively empty, low populations.

Now, as the population starts going up, that gets harder. And so new things start happening. And the winners of wars start swallowing up the losers and forming a bigger society. And as they do this, the people who run these societies figure out very quickly that the only way to hold these societies together and to stay in power is by pacifying their subjects, driving down the rates of violence and violent death. Because if you are a ruler, what you want is people who get up in the morning, go out and plow their fields, pay you taxes and so on. You don't want angry murderous subjects who are killing each other.

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Topics: GPS Show

soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. ok

    So then the Obama administration should not have a problem with the Ukraine crisis. Just let the events unfold and reach the equilibrium.

    April 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
    • j. von hettlingen

      Ian Morris forgets another category of rulers: tyrants and dictators. They hold their country together not "by pacifying their subjects". On the contrary, they resort to violence in order to terrorise their people as a deterrent to dissenters.

      April 29, 2014 at 6:59 am |
      • David

        They still "pacify" their subjects. Whether its by gestapo tactics, military rule, or the "Legitimate" justice of a democracy, they still work to reduce violence and chaos to a minimum as the enforcers of the law.

        April 29, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
    • peace negotiations

      Not a problem? Mr.Obama wanted to supply new weapons – certainly not to create peace. New peace negotiations are the way to go.

      May 5, 2014 at 12:37 am |
  2. Matthew Slater

    I look forward to the rest of the series
    Love is hate
    Ignorance is Strength
    2+2 = 5

    April 28, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
  3. palintwit

    We arrive in rusty 1964 motorhomes.
    We bring our bibles and loaded assault weapons.
    We wear ridiculous clothing and have teabags dangling from our earlobes.
    We carry misspelled racist signs as we stomp all over the White House lawn.
    We eat Chick-fil-A and wash it down with Everclear that we drink from mason jars.
    We are Sarah Palin's real Americans.
    We love the baby jesus but we love to boink our cousins even more.
    We believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that early man walked with the dinosaurs.
    We believe that nascar is a real sport and that Dale Earnhardt was a great American athlete.
    We are the birthers. We are the baggers. We are tea party patriots.
    We are bigots and inbreds. We are morons and we are proud.

    April 28, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
    • We say this prayer

      The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
      In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

      April 28, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
    • David

      wow. and i thought rednecks were ignorant.

      April 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
      • They are

        That's who we're describing dolt.

        April 30, 2014 at 9:10 am |
  4. bobcat2u

    Grandma Saperstein and Grandpa Rabinowitz are sitting on the veranda
    of the old folks
    home rocking back and forth in their rocking chairs. Grandpa
    Rabinowitz rocks forward in
    his chair and says to Grandma, "Fk you!"
    Grandma Saperstein rocks forward in her chair and says to Grandpa,
    "Fk you too!"
    Grandpa becomes very much excited and shouts, "Fk you!" swinging
    more forward
    Grandma remains graceful but leans forward and says, "Fk you again."
    This goes on for about 10 minutes. Finally Grandpa says, "You know
    Grandma, this oral se x thing ain't all it's cracked up to be."

    April 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
    • bobcat2u

      Was that offensive to you Fareed ? Well I'll tell you what, your interview was very offensive to any logically thinking individual. To suggest that the population of a losing country is just going to roll over and accept the occupying forces and the forced submission that comes with it is ludicrous to say the least. There has always been war. There will always be war. It's man's nature.

      April 28, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
      • banasy©

        First of all, that joke was hilarious.
        Secondly, to be fair, it was Ian Morris who said that, wasn't it?

        April 28, 2014 at 11:32 pm |
    • dazzle ©

      You are back @bobcat and better than ever. Hope this reported tornado stays away from you. So good to see you.

      April 28, 2014 at 9:52 pm |
      • bobcat2u

        Hey dazzle

        It's great to see you again too. It's been a while and I'm trying to get back in form. So bear with me.
        How is everyone doing ? I've been so out of touch lately, this enquiring mind wants to know.

        April 28, 2014 at 10:58 pm |
    • bobcat2u


      First of all thank you.
      Secondly , yes, you are correct. My apologies to Mr. Zackaria. But that still was a very crazy assessment.

      April 28, 2014 at 11:41 pm |
      • banasy©

        I agree. Wonder if he's shilling for the MIC?

        April 29, 2014 at 12:04 am |
  5. ✠ RZ ✠

    The history, data, and overall picture is straight forward. Agreed Fareed! However, any remote implication that the process is either good and/or should be practiced does in fact sound insane... BECAUSE IT IS INSANE! WHAT KIND OF SHAM ARE YOU TRYING PULL HERE? Might as well point out that historical data would also prove disease and starvation to be significant factors in controlling over population ?!? Well yah, but does that mean we should get to work on starting pandemics and setting our crops ablaze? Well gee! But if we have a global thermonuclear war NOW, at least we probably won't have worry about having another one for eons! WELL HOLY GOOD MOTHER OF GOD! NO FRICKIN' KIDDING!! I tell ya, if you guys had a brain it'd rattle.

    April 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
    • dazzle ©

      @Bobcat, so good to connect on here. I have missed your jokes but see you are back in good form. All is well, T graduates next month and then off to medical school in New Orleans. I am a proud mama. Our friendly trolls are still around, pizza trolling under various names. How are you feeling and how is the Mrs. doing. Almost past my bedtime. Good night!

      April 28, 2014 at 11:06 pm |
  6. bobcat2u

    ‘Bob’s Tavern’ was right next door to a cemetery. One day in mid winter a drunk stumbled out of the tavern. Due to his drunk state he wasn’t careful where he was going and he fell into a freshly dug grave. “Help!” Screamed the drunk on the top of his lungs, “I’m freezing!”

    Before long another drunk sauntered out of the tavern and made his way towards the first drunk’s cries. “I’m freezing!” Screamed the first drunk again.

    “Of course you are” scolded the second drunk, coming closer. “You kicked off all of the dirt they had covered you with!”

    April 28, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
  7. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    April 28, 2014 at 9:22 pm |
    • Read your history

      Oh, also, the US didn't kill even close to 1 million Iraqis. Yes, there were civilians killed; this, unfortunately, happens in wars. The vast majority of civilian deaths in Iraq (somewhere one the order of 90-95%) were perpetrated by Iraqi (and Iranian!) criminal and terrorist organizations. I remember reading the SIGACT (significant activity reports) in Baghdad 2006-2007, and every single day, there were 20-50 corpses found, killed by the warring gangs and factions. Very rarely by US forces. But don't let that stop you from spewing your Iranian nationalist BS and blaming them all on US forces anyway.

      May 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
  8. ✠RZ✠

    By the way, we are still technically in an ice age. What we're currently experiencing is merely a warm spell called an interglacial period. And yes, the warm spell did start about 15,000 years ago melting away much glaciation and thereby permitting the migration of most species including man to thrive in places once covered by thousands of feet of ice. That the massive ice sheets will again return some day to bulldoze down our northern landscapes and pulverize entire major urban centres into dust is an absolute certainty. In fact, there are some concerns the end of this interglacial may already be starting. Buy gee Morris, why wait? Let's start levelling the place now!

    April 28, 2014 at 11:35 pm |
    • banasy©

      Lol. You're going to ignite the deniers with that comment about climates.

      Morris sounds a little....teched. And firmly planted in the Dark Ages.
      In a word, a loon.

      April 29, 2014 at 12:09 am |
      • ✠RZ✠

        Ignite? Well, if there might be any proponents out there so eager as to push their own self-interests by example of spontaneous human combustion, then what the heck, let 'em blaze away! Somehow doubt I'd be choosy of either side. But that's just it! As if it weren't bad enough that we have all these apocalyptic anvils continuously hanging over our heads to terrify us into complacency, but hey, maybe they can make false flags a thing of the past by sort of convincing everyone with the notion that starting a war might actually be good for them (?). Wow! It actually depresses me to realize that even my own imagination is incapable of wrapping this level of insanity. I must not be worthy.

        April 29, 2014 at 9:54 am |
      • banasy©

        Maybe a threat level: orange would make them combust; it would make them infinitely more entertaining to watch and listen to.
        Like a Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner cartoon...
        Not that I really want that to happen. To anyone. Really.

        April 29, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
  9. chrissy

    Lol @ RZ and as youve previously stated....we can live quite long in an ice age. Particularly females huh? Lololol

    April 29, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
    • ✠RZ✠

      Well, I guess there might always be a remote possibility for someone to allude to it in such a manner. But there isn't an icicle's chance in he!! that I'd ever even entertain such a generalization. Not too sure about that banasy's persuasion, but there's definitely a bit of an edge in there somewhere that an old fashioned chauvinistic fart like myself need be respectful of regardless. Btw, it would appear that lopping off the toe of that punk derpassperperoni troll didn't have quite the affect of a frontal lobotomy. Pretty sure a proctectomy oughtta do the trick though. Heck, likely make a few of us feel a bit more comfortable. 🙂

      April 29, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
      • banasy©

        The lad does seen to suffer from Faecal Encephalopathy.

        April 29, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
      • ✠RZ✠

        @bana§y, just make sure you're outta there when that things decides to blows open. Ya never know, could make the scene from Train Spotting look like a sprinkle of rose water.

        April 29, 2014 at 8:48 pm |
  10. chrissy

    Lmao @ RZ: that derpasstroll has most of the identi ties on these blogs...so that would be a whole lot of Lobottomys but i would definitely volunteer to perform them....starting with the little brain first of course lol! The good old Bobbit way of course lol.

    April 29, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
    • ✠RZ✠

      @chri§y, Yep. He sure is something else.... always popping up as someone somewhere else!. Didn't they use to make some game for kids out there called "whack-a-troll" or something?.

      April 29, 2014 at 7:32 pm |
  11. chrissy

    Also im not your only biggest fan btw...so is banasy! Lmao

    April 29, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
  12. chrissy

    Lmao whackamole? Yea. The thing is cnn knows who he is...heck most of us know.Why they dont put an end to it is anyones guess but he has tormented me for 3 years at least. His real name is Jeffrey Grant Roem!

    April 29, 2014 at 7:57 pm |
  13. PACE - PEACE

    ... no war!

    April 30, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
  14. Richard Rogers

    Well of COURSE more war means less war! The logic is perfect...why, any one of our constant wars could be the very last one. We could also use more crime... you know, to make the streets safer, and we can ALWAYS use more doublespeak. In the immortal words of George Orwell "War is Peace"

    May 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
    • NotSmilingAtPutin

      That was simply an uninformative rant.

      May 1, 2014 at 4:48 pm |
  15. skybon

    War is peace
    Freedom is slavery
    Ignorance is strength

    Thank you CNN for showing true colours. And they say that Russian media are Orwellian, oh boy.

    May 2, 2014 at 3:59 am |
  16. violence begets violence, war begets more war

    Ian Morris needs to get his head examined! The history of mankind is filled with atrocious acts of murder followed by thieving, which were conveniently called "wars" because we would be to embarrassed to call them what they really were, and the perpetrators of these heinous crimes would then have to be held accountable. As we evolved down the eons, our human ability to commit ever increasingly heinous acts of murder, increased, and the last 100 years has clearly shown the body count to far exceed previous centuries. The 21st century started off to a bad start, to say the least, and if the curve of killings has to be mathematically extrapolated, a nuclear war is definitely on the charts for this century.

    May 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm |
    • WAB

      Could not have said it any better ! War in not a video game ,reality of war is" brutal" for the family's holding the bag for the rest of their lives ,besides war is a terrible burden and takes it's toll on the infrastructure of a nation

      May 3, 2014 at 7:26 am |
  17. Not correct ...

    No, "why wars can mean less war" is not correct thinking. The wright partnerships, the wright alliances will create PEACE.

    May 4, 2014 at 9:23 am |

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