For cannon fodder they used agrarian serfs and, after the Industrial Revolution, factory workers and farmers. To satiate their greed thousands of these gullible individuals perished. The last two world wars were fought for economic reasons.
In recent times wars, have been primarily waged for religious reasons. The wealthy are still there urging everyone on in the hope of making a quick buck supplying the tools of trade or taking over valuable resources, but the impetus now is mainly religious.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were prompted by a fundamentalist US president with Armageddon on his mind and the chance of a quick buck on the side for his wealthy friends. A fundamentalist terrorist provided him with an excuse. For cannon fodder he recruited poor blacks and Latinos in the supermarket car parks and ghettos of the cities.
These wars and others like them were and are extremely nasty affairs, perhaps best personified by the suicide bombers and the use of deadly chemicals. The victims are often and overwhelmingly innocent civilians, especially women and children.
The conflicts are most often Islam versus Islam or Islam versus Christianity. Islamist opposition to the West and to America in particular is based on their perception of them as Christian democracies. I know of no current Jihad against atheists.
On all sides the perpetrators come from a fundamentalist base. Islamic and Christian moderates who appeal for calm are ignored.
Any clear thinking individual in the world today who is appalled by these senseless wars and the human carnage they wreak can only sensibly adopt a secular position. To come at it from a religious perspective is to essentially take sides. By invoking a god of any persuasion is to effectively declare for whom you barrack.
In the same way that it applies to individuals the sensible approach by any clear thinking nation is to also take a secular approach. To do otherwise is tantamount to declaring a national allegiance to a particular religious cause.
This is why Papua New Guinea’s unilateral declaration as a Christian nation is so worrying.
Here is a minnow of a country sitting hard up against Indonesia, one of the world’s most populous Islamic nations. It is a needless provocation that invites retaliation. We have a skinny little schoolboy with a death wish marching up to the biggest bully in the senior’s schoolyard and kicking him in the knee.
That Indonesia is watching events in Papua New Guinea with interest must be a given. What it is seeing must be causing it great concern. The Speaker of the Parliament is busily chopping up heathen idols in the cause of creating a fascist Christian democracy.
He and his colleagues have declared that there is no room in Papua New Guinea for non-Christians. No doubt he also has his crooked eye on the mosques in the country. If he touches them will Indonesia react? Only time will tell.
In the meantime the Indonesians are renewing their hard line policies in West Papua to the detriment of the largely Christian Melanesians there. The West Papuans must be cursing Papua New Guinea.
And if Papua New Guinea provokes Indonesia into action what will Australia do? Probably what it has always done, meekly stand by. Papua New Guinea is, after all, an independent state and what it does is its own business. It would be nice if it was sensible about it though.