War is an entirely human activity. No other species commits war against another species, much less their own.
Killing in the non-human, natural world is a matter of reflex and survival. Only humans kill with “motives.”
The written history of the human story tends to focus more on war than peace because war is high drama and often “makes history,” which we regard literally since the “winners” are free to impose their perspective on events and personalities. In this sense, written history is a giant distortion.
All through this distorted history we see different nations rising to “empire status” by conquering other nations, by making war. In every case, these empires have fallen eventually into the trash heap of the past. Some still live in memory, others lost forever.
Without question, the present empire on Earth is the United States of America, and it gained empire status in the usual way – by invading and conquering.
Empires are built by armies and armies are made from soldiers. How do nations turn citizens into soldiers? Sometimes through force, including conscription, kidnapping and slavery, and sometimes through enticement, or “volunteers.”
Generals, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings and Emperors build the armies and decide where they should go. But they are never soldiers. Soldiers are made up of the “common folk,” people from modest or poor means.
The soldiers fight, kill and die on the battlefields, but it’s the leaders who win or lose. When the battles are over, and the war is won or lost, the soldiers return home to hero’s welcome, or the shame of defeat.
In either case, the soldier is not the same. The extreme violence of war can leave an indelible scar on the psyche and the soul. I know this personally after 13 months in Vietnam. Everyone knows this. “Veterans” are tarnished by the stink, blood and chaos, and regarded with a twinge of guilt and disgust.
Look at America’s veterans – high rate of homelessness, high rate of suicide, high rate of depression and drug addiction. Used soldiers are the dirty laundry of empire.