Were these wars worth fighting over sovereignty?

by Scott Manning on March 5, 2014

With a potential war over Ukraine’s sovereignty looming, it is important to understand the kind of war such a dispute could bring. 

Some of the largest wars started over what later seemed like a trivial matter. Before Thucydides recounted the dispute between Athens and Sparta leading up to the Peloponnesian War, he stated that he considered “the truest cause the one least openly expressed” (1.23). It was not the sovereignty of some Greek city-state, but instead Sparta’s fear over the growing power of Athens.

Still, it is worth focusing on the openly stated cause for a war to ask the basic question of whether that cause was worth the war it wrought.

Sun Tzu tells us “those unable to understand the dangers inherent in employing troops are equally unable to understand the advantageous ways of doing so” (2.8). Thus, anyone considering war over Ukraine’s sovereignty should be able to answer the following questions.

  1. Was the sovereignty of Ionian city-states worth the Greco-Persian Wars?

  2. Was the sovereignty of Potidaea worth the Peloponnesian War?

  3. Was the sovereignty of Messana worth the Punic Wars?

  4. Was the sovereignty of Byzantine worth the Crusades?

  5. Was the sovereignty of Silesia worth the Seven Years War?

  6. Was the sovereignty of Texas US worth the Mexican-American War?

  7. Was the sovereignty of Belgium worth World War I?

  8. Was the sovereignty of Poland worth World War II?

  9. Was the sovereignty of Kuwait worth the Persian Gulf War?

Verdun (March 24, 2012)

Verdun, March 24, 2012

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