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Old 7th December 2012, 11:12 PM   #1
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What was the most successful war in history?

What did it succeed in the long run? Be specific.
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Old 7th December 2012, 11:17 PM   #2
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I really think some definitions are necessary. Like "success" and possibly also "war".

But an interesting topic nonetheless.
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Old 7th December 2012, 11:23 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
I really think some definitions are necessary. Like "success" and possibly also "war".

But an interesting topic nonetheless.

Long run accomplishment maybe? I think I'm struggling with how to word it.

What did they fight against and did they really win? In the long run.
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Old 7th December 2012, 11:35 PM   #4
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I guess the reason I asked is that I consider the Cold War to be the most successful. Not many deaths (depending on definitions); the world was literally facing destruction; it ended without tears.
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Old 7th December 2012, 11:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
I guess the reason I asked is that I consider the Cold War to be the most successful. Not many deaths (depending on definitions); the world was literally facing destruction; it ended without tears.
Wasn't Vietnam during the Cold War? Korea? What did America gain from those conflicts?

Debt?

Lots of dead 47%?
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Old 7th December 2012, 11:45 PM   #6
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World War II not only defeated the Axis but completely destroyed them. The victors completely destroyed the officer/military class of both countries. They partitioned one of the countries. Both had their constitutions rewritten by the victors and both still host the military forces of the victors.
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Old 7th December 2012, 11:49 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Profanz View Post
Wasn't Vietnam during the Cold War? Korea? What did America gain from those conflicts?

Debt?

Lots of dead 47%?
See that's the thing. I consider the Cold War to be far different from Vietnam and Korea. I see it as brinkmanship and minor scuffles (like the Bay of Pigs and the related Cuban Missle Crisis) which resulted in the lack of a major war for decades.

I'm not dismissing the impact and tragedy of Vietnam and so on, but the Cold War was pretty successful IMO.
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Old 7th December 2012, 11:53 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
World War II not only defeated the Axis but completely destroyed them. The victors completely destroyed the officer/military class of both countries. They partitioned one of the countries. Both had their constitutions rewritten by the victors and both still host the military forces of the victors.
What did that accomplish and how is it relevant today?

BTW? The Axis countries are still there. They were not destroyed.
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Old 8th December 2012, 12:11 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
See that's the thing. I consider the Cold War to be far different from Vietnam and Korea. I see it as brinkmanship and minor scuffles (like the Bay of Pigs and the related Cuban Missle Crisis) which resulted in the lack of a major war for decades.

I'm not dismissing the impact and tragedy of Vietnam and so on, but the Cold War was pretty successful IMO.
"Vietnam and so on..."

Really?

Korean War 36,516 US dead

Vietnam 58,151 US Deaths

How was it a success? Who gained from any of it?
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Old 8th December 2012, 12:15 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Profanz View Post
"Vietnam and so on..."

Really?

Korean War 36,516 US dead

Vietnam 58,151 US Deaths

How was it a success? Who gained from any of it?
Do you want a debate or a fight?

I've already explained why I thought it was a success. No nuclear war? I reckon the entire world gained.

Are you just going to take pot shots, or nominate your own successful war?
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Old 8th December 2012, 12:23 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Do you want a debate or a fight?

I've already explained why I thought it was a success. No nuclear war? I reckon the entire world gained.

Are you just going to take pot shots, or nominate your own successful war?
Sorry. Did not mean to offend you.
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Old 8th December 2012, 12:28 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Profanz View Post
Sorry. Did not mean to offend you.
Fair enough, thanks.

I am really interested in your views on this topic.
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Old 8th December 2012, 12:29 AM   #13
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What was the most sucsessful war in history?

Ya Mum!



What?
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Old 8th December 2012, 12:34 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Profanz View Post
What did it succeed in the long run? Be specific.
Anglo-Zanzibar War. Total british victory in under an hour with zero british casulties. With a start like that who cares about the long run.
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Old 8th December 2012, 12:59 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Profanz View Post
Long run accomplishment maybe? I think I'm struggling with how to word it.

What did they fight against and did they really win? In the long run.
War is a continuation of the exercising of foreign policy where other means have failed.

The question needs to be refined, or at least explain further the rationale of the question, if there are to be useful answers.
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Old 8th December 2012, 01:10 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
World War II not only defeated the Axis but completely destroyed them. The victors completely destroyed the officer/military class of both countries. They partitioned one of the countries. Both had their constitutions rewritten by the victors and both still host the military forces of the victors.
well I was just thinking about WWII.
Just going by gut instinct, I would have said long term winners of WWII were the USA, Germany and Japan.
Big losers were the UK and soviet occupied eastern europe.

It really does depend on exactly how you frame the discussion
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Old 8th December 2012, 03:33 AM   #17
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Star Wars. Made millions
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Old 8th December 2012, 05:50 AM   #18
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The War on Christmas...

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Old 8th December 2012, 07:01 AM   #19
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As devastating and expensive as war can be in the short term, it doesn't ever really seem to change things much. Something like that.
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Old 8th December 2012, 11:00 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Profanz View Post
"Vietnam and so on..."

Really?

Korean War 36,516 US dead

Vietnam 58,151 US Deaths

How was it a success? Who gained from any of it?
And one thermonuclear weapon could have killed in milli-seconds as many US citizens as were killed in all combat activities 1946-2000.


As for the OP, I think an argument can be made that the American Revolutionary War was a success, in that both the United States and Great Britain went on to remain/become strong and democratic nations on their own.

For least successful War, there are hundreds, but WW I would have to be a strong contender--millions of dead, empires wrecked (which may not have been all bad, but what replaced them was not all that much better, in many cases), and the seeds of an even bigger war firmly planted.

IMHO as always. YMMV.
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Old 8th December 2012, 11:09 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
Anglo-Zanzibar War. Total british victory in under an hour with zero british casulties. With a start like that who cares about the long run.
Especially as they billed the losers for the cost of the ammunition
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Old 8th December 2012, 11:47 AM   #22
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The 'most successful' war wouldn't necessarily have to be the 'best' war. For instance, WWII was obviously a horrible war, possibly the worst ever. But it was quite successful in that it seems to have ended in long lasting peace and rejection of the fascism and authoritarianism that caused the war. Compared to WWI which didn't solve any problems and only made things worse that is quite an achievement. Also, it is one of the few cases where it was quite clear who were the aggressors, and the agressors decisively lost, since it was very clear that the allies really did not want the war and the defeat of the axis powers was complete.

For 'long lasting consequences' I suppose Alexander's campaign may qualify, or Muhammed's. Both changed world history forever in very large parts of the world. If you check back in a few thousand years maybe we can see how WWII compares to that.

For 'most cost-effective war' I guess you want to look at the consequences compared to the number of casualties. Maybe the American Revolution can be a contender in that category.
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Old 8th December 2012, 12:42 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Profanz View Post
As devastating and expensive as war can be in the short term, it doesn't ever really seem to change things much. Something like that.
Really?

You don't think that there would be a major difference between:
a) allied victory in world war 2
b) axis victory in world war 2

Or a major impact on history, philosophy and science if the Persians had conquered ancient Greece?

I wonder what would have happened if the Assyrians had conquered Jerusalem?
From wiki:
"McNeill argues that the apparent defeat of Sennacherib by Yahweh supported the idea of monotheism in an age when a conquered people typically adopted the god or gods of their conquerors, as their own had failed to protect them. The extraordinary defeat of Sennacherib which McNeill suggests, by disease which was as yet not understood, would have proven Yahweh superior to the gods of the most powerful nation then known to the Jews, Assyria. Therefore, McNeill concludes that if Sennacherib had taken the city, the culture of monotheism may have failed to achieve the widespread popularity it enjoys today through the various Abrahamic faiths."

No Abrahamic faiths??
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Old 8th December 2012, 12:58 PM   #24
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War is in itself the ultimate failure and brekdown of human relations
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Old 8th December 2012, 01:05 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
"Therefore, McNeill concludes that if Sennacherib had taken the city, the culture of monotheism may have failed to achieve the widespread popularity it enjoys today through the various Abrahamic faiths."
Maybe I'm ignorant, but was Jerusalem really monotheistic in that time? I've even seen suggestions that monotheism came to Judaism from the Zoroastrians during the Babylonian captivity.

Now it's of course still very possible that a capture of Jerusalem might have had far-reaching effects, but really I think it's plausible that even very minor events could have changed history forever. What if the person - whoever it was - who really pushed through monotheism had been distracted by a love story at the wrong moment? I think if we look for important events in history it has to be events that clearly affected history in a particular direction.
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Old 8th December 2012, 01:09 PM   #26
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The Revolutionary War was pretty darn successful, the USA gained it's independence and grew to become a world power.

The Civil War, tore the nation apart, but the freedoms resulting from that war are still being felt to this day....

You could say the Afghani's were pretty successful at running the Soviets out of town....
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Old 8th December 2012, 01:13 PM   #27
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The war on drugs.

It successfully failed.
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Old 8th December 2012, 01:24 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Profanz View Post
As devastating and expensive as war can be in the short term, it doesn't ever really seem to change things much. Something like that.
Thank you for the additional vagueness.

"Devastating and Expensive": continue on this line of thought and compare it to the alternative.

"It doesn't ever really seem to change things much": perhaps you should examine the societal, economic and political effects of World War I in a little more depth. Ditto for WWII - not because they're perfect examples, but because you won't be lacking for evidence.
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Old 8th December 2012, 01:32 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Dcdrac View Post
War is in itself the ultimate failure and brekdown of human relations
It depends. Wars are a foreign policy tool, *usually* the tool of last resort. An ultimate failure in my thinking would be a society turning on itself (Pol Pot and the Kmer Rouge, for example).
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Old 8th December 2012, 03:10 PM   #30
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The Qin conquest of the other independent Chinese states.
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Old 8th December 2012, 03:25 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Profanz View Post
What was the most successful war in history? What did it succeed in the long run? Be specific.
A very good question. Not able to provide much insight as success there is hard to define.

What happens if you frame the question differently:

What was the most successful peace in history? What did it succeed in the long run? How was it achieved and held to?


ETA: I think waging peace succeeds better in the long run. I don't think peace just suddenly breaks out. There has to be short term tactics and long term strategy to wage peace, and those need to be both studied and applied. I think waging peace is the way to go, we should to study it more as a complementary science to war studies. That's why one of my favorite persons ever is Johan Galtung.

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Old 8th December 2012, 04:40 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Dcdrac View Post
War is in itself the ultimate failure and brekdown of human relations
Depends who you ask, doesn't it? I guess that Julius Caesar and Napoleon would describe it as the ultimate career boost...
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Old 8th December 2012, 06:00 PM   #33
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World War II was successful at expunging authoritarian/dictatorial/fascist government from all of Western Europe for the entire period since and indefinitely onward--a return to dictatorship in any of those nations seems unlikely in the long run, though over millenia I suppose many things are possible.

As well, Western Europe has known military peace amongst themselves for the same period, which had not been true before.

I'd say that's something.
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Old 8th December 2012, 06:08 PM   #34
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Some of the most successful wars would have been the ones the ancient Romans won. Like the conquest of England. That has had a huge impact on history to this very day.
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Old 8th December 2012, 07:45 PM   #35
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The Man-Kzin Wars, which changed the nature of an entire species.
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Old 8th December 2012, 07:51 PM   #36
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Most successful war?

Name an aggressor.

Did their aggression achieve its purpose? Was the gain greater than the loss?

I'd say the war to liberate Kuwait is probably in the top 5 most successful wars of the 20th Century. Not sure where it would rank in all of history.

Anyway, it looks like the OP's intent is not really to judge the success rate of warfare according to some criteria, but rather to introduce a global indictment of war by implication and without support or discussion.
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Old 8th December 2012, 07:54 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by gnome View Post
World War II was successful at expunging authoritarian/dictatorial/fascist government from all of Western Europe for the entire period since and indefinitely onward--a return to dictatorship in any of those nations seems unlikely in the long run, though over millenia I suppose many things are possible.

As well, Western Europe has known military peace amongst themselves for the same period, which had not been true before.

I'd say that's something.
Interesting. I'd say that it's meaningless to judge the success of a war, except in terms of the aggressor's objective. Since the aggressors in WWII ultimately lost, I'd say that by my criteria it should be judged a failure, not a success. Success for the defenders would have been to not have to fight a war at all.
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Old 8th December 2012, 08:00 PM   #38
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The Pig War. San Juan Island, 1859. US v Canada. No human casualties.

My kinda war!
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Old 8th December 2012, 08:09 PM   #39
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I think the war that most cemented the character and nature of the human world would have to be the (theorized) hunting to extinction of neanderthals by cro-magnons. Our visceral hatred of the natural world, of anything that reminds us of our animal roots, our fear of strangers, and our insanely racist idea of manifest destiny all spring from our victory over neanderthals.

My second choice would be the WWI-WWII period. It destroyed forever the concept of empire, moved the production curve farther and faster than ever before, brought meaning to the concept of "human rights", and perhaps made "war" itself obsolete in the process.
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Old 8th December 2012, 08:47 PM   #40
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I would argue the Second Persian War. Greek victory in this conflict ensured Western Democracy could survive, allowing the Greeks to spread it to their Italian colonies where it would eventually result in the Roman Republic, which is the basis of Western Civilisation. Greek and Roman culture would further inspire a western cultural and social revolution in the late Renaissance, leading to the modern world.
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