Columns and Letters

Column: Great Powers, Endless Wars

-by Gwynne Dyer

    “Great nations do not fight endless wars,” said Donald Trump in his State of the Union speech last February, but he was wrong. That’s exactly what they do. Great powers fight more wars than anybody else, even if, like the United States today, they have no hostile neighbours.
    The original observations were made half a century ago by Quincy Wright, an American political scientist at the University of Chicago. During the entire history of “modern” Europe from 1480 to 1940, he calculated, there have been about 2600 important battles.
    France, a leading military power for the whole period and the greatest power for most of it, participated in 47 per cent of those battles – more than a thousand major battles. Russia, Britain, and Germany (in the form of Prussia), which were all great European powers by 1700, fought in between 22 and 25 per cent of them. And then the rate of participation falls off very steeply.
    Spain was a great military power until the mid-1700s, but then dropped out of contention and can offer only a 12 per cent attendance record for battles over the whole four-and-a-half centuries. The Netherlands and Sweden, which were great military powers only for brief periods, were present at only eight and four per cent of Europe’s battles respectively. Indeed, Sweden has not used its army in war for 190 years now.

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Letter: Reflecting on D-Day 75th anniversary

Dear Editor,

    On June 6th, 1944, I arrived by boat on Juno Beach in Normandy, France, with the Canadian Scottish Regiment. My role was in the mortar platoon. On June 17th, I was based in a barn, anticipating an attack that never came. I went into a nearby shed to disarm the grenades when one exploded, resulting in the loss of my right arm.
    When I returned to Canada, I became a member of The War Amps, which was started by amputee veterans returning from the First World War to help each other adapt to their new reality as amputees. Through the years, we have made it a goal to remember and commemorate our fallen comrades, and to educate youth about the horrors of war.
    In Normandy, many Canadians died or suffered wounds that they had to carry for the rest of their lives. As we mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, it’s important that we never forget.

Allan Bacon
Toronto, ON






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