Lew Rockwell posted a link to an article by Howard Zinn, a leftist historian, on rethinking war. I'm only loosely familiar with Zinn, and don't endorse everything he says in the article, but it does make one reconsider the morality of war.
I'm currently reading the third volume of John Dos Passos' masterpiece The U.S.A Trilogy. The first volume, The 42nd Parallel, involves the leadup to the first World War, and the second volume, 1919, deals with the war itself. The third volume, The Big Money, is the aftermath of the war and the roaring '20s. (By the way, I highly recommend this trilogy.)
I bring this up because Dos Passos exposes America's involvement in World War I as a boondoggle for large corporations and banks and launched the Military-Industrial complex mindset in America which has led to massive indebtedness, nationalism, death, destruction, and oligarchy. America had no place in World War I, and likely did more harm than good in giving the Allies the victory over the Axis powers which ultimately set the stage for German nationalism and the rise of Hitler.
As Zinn writes in the article:
"We've got to rethink this question of war and come to the conclusion that war cannot be accepted, no matter what the reasons given, or the excuse: liberty, democracy; this, that. War is by definition the indiscriminate killing of huge numbers of people for ends that are uncertain. Think about means and ends, and apply it to war. The means are horrible, certainly. The ends, uncertain. That alone should make you hesitate."
Zinn has an excellent point, that the consequences of war are entirely uncertain. Just think about the consequences of the most popularly known wars in history. The Civil War destroyed Federalism and legitimzed nationalism in America, World War I laid the foundation for World War II, and World War II increased the Soviet's power and influence and launched the Cold War. The Iraq War may be America's undoing by over reaching and massive indebtedness that may lead to the destruction of America's military and political might.
These are things we need to reflect upon more than we have. We (certainly I) have too readily accepted the conventional dogma that war actually serves a moral purpose when in reality the unintended causes, or unspoken motivations of war are wholly immoral.
I am not a pacifist, but I am becoming increasingly convinced that war is something that is almost never useful and should be avoided at almost all costs. To quote Zinn again, "Who gets what?" Who does war benefit? Does it benefit the banks loaning the government funds for war? Does it benefit corporations who supply materials for war? Does it benefit corporations who win contracts for post war reconstruction? Does it benefit you and I?
I don't like how Zinn frames this question in terms of class, as the term is loaded with socialism, but he does make a good point, that war is championed by those that benefit the most from war at the expense of those set to lose the most.