We are all products of war. Some might say war is the work of Satan- it brings destruction, it breeds chaos. For them, I quote my favourite line from Game of thrones here,
“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but refuse. They cling to the realm, or love, or the gods…illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is. But they’ll never know this.”
If all you can think of as a product of war is going under the seas in submarines or flying at supersonic speed in jet fighters or the floating fortress called aircraft carriers, then you are mistaken. War involves a parallel spread of operations much beyond battleships, intercontinental missiles and guns that fire scores of rounds in a second.
I strongly hold that it is this fighting spirit and will to survive that has made us the most intelligent and certainly the most adaptable species. Whatever the reasons behind wars may be – independence, imperialism or establishing a new democratic order – it has only boosted our survival skills. Necessity has spurred inventions at a pace that could never have been achieved in the complacency of peacetime.
The Internet is the child of the ARPAnet (Advanced Research Projects Agency net) that connected computers at Pentagon, Cheyenne Mountain and US nuclear weapon control centre. The modern computer rapidly developed with the advent of ENIAC – the world’s first all-electronic computer which was designed for US Army under Project PX and was launched in 1939, before WWII.
The VHF broadcasting technology that made FM Broadcasting was also pioneered by Major Edwin H Armstrong, US army Signal Corps. The most significant of all was undeniably electronic coding and encrypting, that evolved out of the unbreakable German ENIGMA. Something that was a nightmare for Allied forces during the Second World War gave birth to today’s spread spectrum and frequency hopping techniques for better encryption and security of wireless communication.
From GPS to Weather Forecasting all are products of these wars. One may argue that Weather forecasting is an ancient phenomenon. Well it was during the Napoleonic Wars that Sir Francis Beaufort of Royal Navy designed the first weather reporting system followed by next big landmark by US army Signal Service that spread the vast weather forecasting network throughout the country. And with the satellites exclusively sent for military purposes aiding the seagoing vessels and aircrafts by predicting the weather, forecasting became more than just plants and the Rain man talking to the winds and predicting monsoon.
Canning of food, Microwave Oven, synthetic rubber, Duct Tape, Cargo Pants, Jungle boots and the stylish Aviators, (that were built first for pilots hence the name) are few of the other products that every household is incomplete without.
Night vision devices were first made by German in 1939 and even digital photography came up as a result of the cold war, for photography in space wasn’t possible using film. From the introduction of RADARs to the use of Ambulance (used first by Spanish army, named Ambulancia in 15th century), from Walkie-Talkies to the production of cellular mobiles, numerous modern developments would not have found a launch pad in the absence of a need to gain a tactical advantage.
Even VTOL, vertical take-off and landing, technology that lets a fixed wing aircraft fly and land without a runway are the result of demands of naval aviation where a small platform of a ship is all an aircraft has to take off from and land on. UAVs, unmanned aircraft vehicles, which allow one to keep an eye on the territory without having a pilot on board to monitor them are another example.
I agree war has brought deaths but the survival instinct has given more to us than taken and hence we are not survivors of the great wars but products of it enjoying all the gifts of destruction. Sure, these things could have come up without wars as would be pointed out by several people. But then you’d be left as the Jules Verne of the 21st century and landing on the moon, let alone Mars, would be a distant dream, perhaps to be fulfilled only in the next millennium. Hail Wars!