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The most armed forces


Chapter #22 of 'The World Then' recounts the great changes in military tactics: in rich armies, more and more machines replaced men. Fortunes were spent on weapons, especially in the United States. “Terrorism” continued to justify many things – and suddenly a war broke out

The year 2022 brought with it a cataclysm that, then, no one knew how to interpret.

In Europe, where the war between nations seemed like the memory of a past that would never return, the cannons rumbled one morning.

An authoritarian Russian leader — but elected by the votes of 76 percent of its citizens — decided to invade a border country, Ukraine, which had belonged to the former Soviet Union, and launched thousands of tanks, planes and troops to occupy it.

A good part of his compatriots supported the attempt: two out of three missed the times when the USSR ensured Russian dominance over a dozen neighboring countries.

And they believed, as it turned out, that his army was far more powerful than it actually was.

The western world was shaken: after so long, the worst of ghosts returned.

The war, as usually happens in these cases, was a tornado in its early days —emotions, declarations, realignments, reactions, aid— but little by little it was left in the background, and if it was remembered from time to time it was above all due to its economic consequences: the increase in certain raw materials—gas, oil, and cereals—produced inflation as unusual as the plane bombings.

The war also caused the unexpected strengthening of the NATO bloc, huge profits for arms manufacturers, several million refugees, the division between those who promoted peace at any cost and those who argued that the price could not be the acceptance of an occupation. military.

And above all,

Now we know what happened, but it was logical that those people doubted and worried: they had become unaccustomed.

Perhaps never in the history of the world have there been decades with so little violence as the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.

Between 1905 and 1975 the various wars had killed about 150 million people.

In all of 2020, only two combat zones had produced more than 10,000 deaths —but less than 20,000—: Afghanistan, where fundamentalist forces fought against the army paid and led by the United States, and Yemen, where religious, regionalist, Saudi and others faced a rather inextricable maze - which, on the other hand, hardly anyone tried to extricate.

The fighting had become even more local, more civil:

national factions —supported by some foreign power— fighting for the control of a desirable soil for its subsoil or religious groups trying to exert their power in the subheaven.

Internal and spasmodic conflicts in Somalia, Ethiopia, Libya, Congo, Myanmar, Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria still.

War had become a consequence—not necessarily the worst—of extreme poverty.

Military fighting between states—what had traditionally been called “war”—did not exist and, until the Russian invasion of Ukraine, rich countries had not had it for decades: that—relative—peace was probably the effect of the atomic bomb. .

Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria still.

War had become a consequence—not necessarily the worst—of extreme poverty.

Military fighting between states—what had traditionally been called “war”—did not exist and, until the Russian invasion of Ukraine, rich countries had not had it for decades: that—relative—peace was probably the effect of the atomic bomb. .

Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria still.

War had become a consequence—not necessarily the worst—of extreme poverty.

Military fighting between states—what had traditionally been called “war”—did not exist and, until the Russian invasion of Ukraine, rich countries had not had it for decades: that—relative—peace was probably the effect of the atomic bomb. .

A cyclist rides behind a Taliban patrol in September 2021 through the streets of Kabul.

picture alliance (dpa via Getty Image)

Almost 80 years had passed since the launch of that first machine on Japanese soil changed the idea of ​​war.

His appearance was the pinnacle of the triumph of human technique over human strength: five people in an airplane could kill, with a single gesture, one hundred thousand, two hundred thousand, millions.

For the first time in history, man had the power to end humanity.

Until then, destruction knew limits: a war could kill thousands of soldiers and civilians, produce desolation and hunger, but always within an order that would allow reconstruction.

As various countries began to complete an atomic arsenal, it became clear that its use—the explosions, the radiation—could end all human life.

It was a crucial moment: in those very anthropocentric times, in those days when men believed themselves capable of almost everything, they conquered one of the last privileges of the gods: the ability to destroy the world.

The apocalypse became a prerogative of human reason.

The appearance of the bomb was also an extreme example of the old Latin phrase:

si vis pax, para bellum.

—If you want peace, prepare for war.

When the two main enemies of the day - the United States and the Soviet Union - confirmed that they had the possibility of annihilating each other, total war turned into total horror: unleashing it meant taking the risk of disappearing from the surface of the Earth and, fortunately, no one wanted to.

But both superpowers had to pretend they could and sustain, for that, a race to update their weapons that cost them fortunes — and led the USSR to ruin.

Meanwhile, the fight between the two was played out in all kinds of regional conflicts with their direct or indirect participation: wars like those in Korea or Vietnam or Afghanistan or the Middle East, controlled invasions like those of Hungary or Panama or Czechoslovakia or Santo Domingo. ,

Memorial to the victims of the 1945 atomic bomb in Hiroshima (Japan). Yuichi Yamazaki (Getty Images)

Later, already reaching the 21st century, two elements changed the board again.

For one thing, the fall of the Soviet Union left the United States without an enemy of its stature—and the threat of nuclear destruction faded from the limelight.

In 2022 there were still a dozen countries in the world —Russia and the United States, above all, but also China, England, France, Pakistan, India, Israel, North Korea— with enough hydrogen bombs to destroy the planet in half a day. time, but they weren't supposed to have a reason to.

And men had forgotten the nuclear threat: it was no longer part of their ghosts, of their fears.

However, several of those atomic states had, in those years, sufficiently unstable leaders —the American Trump, the North Korean Kim, the Indian Modi,

At the same time, it seemed that the idea of ​​two more or less powerful states sending their armies into a conflict zone and facing each other with weapons, vehicles and men was no longer possible.

Military experts had assured that this type of war was not even feasible: that a regiment deployed in an open space could last a minute and a half before being destroyed by missiles and drones, since any movement was immediately detected by the multitude of satellites that rotated. around the planet.

Its circulation was still not regulated and more than 7,500 devices were piled up in terrestrial orbit —many of them spies for the great armies;

some, scientific or meteorological;

quite a few, garbage that stayed there, circling towards eternity.

For this reason, too, the impact of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine: it was the demonstration that the old war of armies and positions and bombardments and occupation of civilian targets was still feasible.

It was an extraordinary shock.

That deepened when millions discovered that, in addition, the atomic threat returned to the scene.


And yet, already then the decisive change in war techniques was announced: that the bodies began to disappear —from the wars of the rich.

It was the result of another very long process: at first the men fought with their naked bodies, devoid of any tool.

Little by little they learned to use sticks and stones that they first handled with their hands and then threw: a new historical stage began when one man was able to kill another from a distance.

For several millennia the two ways of killing complemented each other;

more and more, the distant forms prevailed over the near ones: from the spear to the arrow to the musket to the cannon to the rifle to the machine gun the progression became more and more deadly.

The bodies continued to go to war but kept further and further away:

But it was at the beginning of the 21st century when soldiers from rich countries began to fight wars without their bodies: sitting in front of a computer screen in a barracks in their country, they attacked targets that could be on another continent with drones or missiles.

The first to do so was the United States in its Asian wars—Iraq, Afghanistan.

To bomb or machine-gun a site, to blow up a bridge or kill enemies, it was no longer necessary to be there: one no longer had to risk one's own life, only cut off that of others.

The invention was comparable to what the spread of gunpowder was in the 16th century: the possibility of killing from a distance, without running any immediate risk.

But if then the artillerymen had to be at the foot of their cannon and thus expose themselves,

These attacks made it possible to avoid the old price of wars: in any attack by soldiers, their own soldiers could die;

in a drone strike, no.

The drone was pure inequality in act.

And his executioners had the sensation of being embarked on some video game (see chapter 20): killing was so much easier when it was done from so far away, with such calm.

In a sample of the paradoxes of those years, the one who finished installing violence from a distance was a supposedly progressive boss, the first black president of the United States, who proclaimed that war should be "more humane": his way of doing it was kill on screens

A Ukrainian soldier piloting a drone during training in Mykolaiv last November. SOPA Images (LightRocket via Getty Images)

(There were testimonies that the system was clear: that president received every week the list of enemies that his espionage services had located in their hideouts and distant residences and he indicated the names of those who should be bombarded in what some involuntary prankster baptized as “surgical operations.” The war —that stage of the war— had been transformed into a succession of more or less controlled and selected executions —which, of course, almost always produced “collateral damage”. That is why some spoke of “ post-heroic war”: a great repressive operation without borders.)

This way of waging war was the absolute privilege of the three or four richest countries, as long as they exercised it against poorer countries, which did not have the same technology.

In another example of the ruthless disparity of the period, poor countries continued to fight with their bodies like animals.

And, even in the most developed ones, people were still needed to handle the remote weapons;

the complete replacement was not even a project yet.

(Although people were beginning to talk about the first soldier-robots, and it was assumed that they were already undergoing experimentation, they had not yet participated in any confrontation. It was a few years away.)

Technical warfare distanced violence from the citizen body, turned it into foreign news: it no longer involved—like the great wars of the 20th century, the deadliest in history—everyone but a few, the professionals.

For others it was not a danger or a reality;

it was a vague nuisance, a distant threat, something they could forget most of the time.

For this reason, too, the Ukrainian horror: bombed cities and fleeing civilians already seemed, in Europe, scenes from a forgotten past.

And at the same time, these technified armies maintained the same hierarchical structures from the times of Napoleon —or Julius Caesar—: the orders of a superior were irrefutable, not complying with them could be paid with life.

They were mostly masculine structures that justified their cult of obedience by the fact that any deviation could cost death —although fewer and fewer died.

In the twenty years —from 2001 to 2021— that the United States war in Afghanistan lasted, 2,448 American soldiers died in combat: just over 100 per year.

In any one of those years, more than 35,000 Americans died at home from errors and failures of human-driven automobiles (see chapter 17).


As technology took up more space in wars, money weighed more and more.

It was the continuity of an immemorial line: in the first fight at the entrance to the cave between two men armed with sticks, the goods of each one had no influence, but as soon as that man only joined a family group, the group that achieved more food and therefore grew more and had more members began to gain an advantage.

The trend never stopped: a rich Greek city could feed more citizens who defended it than a poor one and Carlos V could pay his Tercios who sacked Rome with gold from the Indies and Napoleon would take advantage of the requisitions of the Revolution to endow his Grande Armée and Germany would use its industrial power to make the tanks that swept across Europe.

Money always won wars

but that rule increased in power when human beings were no longer needed in many of the operations.

It was, of course, more agreeable to the soldiers of the superpowers, let alone their industrialists and bankers.

The less weight the men had and the more the gadgets, the more money there was for their makers and sellers.

The average defense spending in the world went from 6 percent in 1960 —at the height of the Cold War— to 3 percent in 2020 —only that the three percent of 2020 was much more money than the six percent of 1960. For centuries the ones who collected the most from the wars were the vendors, who supplied the food and uniforms and horses and other necessities of those enormous bands.

Little by little they lost their place, and the arms industry became one of the most influential sectors.

Typical of the richest countries, it served them for a double purpose: to obtain military power by providing their own armies and to obtain money by supplying those of others.

It also served to consolidate the influence of big capital over the governments of their countries: those states were subject to permanent blackmail from the producers of the weapons they needed.

And it served so that the rulers obtained great advantages—let's call them advantages—delivering multimillion-dollar contracts to this or that one.

(The corruption of politicians who had to decide on the purchase of arms was commonplace. More curious was the reverse case: when a very rich monarch like the emir of Qatar offered the president of a country like France to buy him combat planes if he supported him to organize a Football cup.)

The arms industry included, then, from bombers and helicopters to fireproof gloves and ultraviolet visors, including satellites, warships, weapons of all kinds, personal equipment, submarines, rockets, non-perishable food, super powerful computers or certain medicines.

A Ukrainian tank on March 15 in Donetsk.Anadolu Agency (Getty Images)

The arms industry was also one of the most efficient ways of transferring capital from the less developed countries but rich in raw materials—rich in money—to the more developed countries.

The three largest arms exporters were the United States, Russia, and France;

the three largest importers were India, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

As a result of ever-increasing technology, spending on violence grew non-stop.

With much fewer armies, with much fewer wars, military spending was, in 2021, almost double that of twenty years before —more than two million million euros: two trillion in Spanish.

Of that total, the United States still paid more than a third to continue having the most expensive army in history: in that year, 2022, it had spent, alone, between 700,000 and 780,000 million euros, according to sources.

It was, in any case, more than the next ten—China, Saudi Arabia, India, England, Germany, Japan, Russia, South Korea, France, and Brazil—put together.

Forty percent of the world's military spending was made by one country, the United States, where four percent of its population lived.

Or put another way,

Meanwhile, China's and Russia's military spending had risen sharply in the previous two decades.

And both had also multiplied their spending on spying on their own citizens (see chapter 18).

That Russia, for example, had four times as many spies per person as the Soviet Union: twice as many agents for half the population.

Thanks to the generosity of these states, the legal arms business was then one of the most flourishing on the planet: more than 600,000 million euros a year.

And, of course, the five largest companies were American—and they alone brought in about $170 billion a year.

Faced with this, the two or three billion euros that supposedly circulated in the famous illegal arms trade were a trifle—but they were used to make many films.

Military parade in Beijing commemorating the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.Kevin Frayer (Getty Images)


There were still, despite everything, in the richest armies, soldiers who went down to the ground.

They were clothed in technology: they were flesh and blood supports for all kinds of gadgets.

A modern soldier in a modern army in 2020 carried 50 kilos of equipment on his back: various bulletproof plates and devices, the combat helmet, the automatic weapon, its projectiles, its thermal sight, the night vision goggles, the communications equipment , the batteries for the equipment, the food rations, the uniform, the water, the first aid kit, the sleeping bag, the backpack with things.

Fighting, then, should not be as difficult as getting to the place of combat.

And more and more armies recruited women into their ranks.

The almost unanimous rule that only men make war had held for millennia but was giving way.

Women proudly accepted the possibility of killing and being killed in an act of war;

it is true that not being able to do so was one of the exclusions with which men had separated them from the powers that be;

It is also true that there are powers that it is better not to have.

But women were still a relatively new thing in the armies: the largest military corps had between 10 and 15 percent female soldiers —although most of them were still in support positions: services, various logistics.

To justify it, some powerful armies —such as the North American— offered batteries of exercises and drills that supposedly demonstrated that, under these circumstances, single-man units functioned better than mixed ones;

some women surely rejoiced, many others not.

At that point, most countries had already abolished compulsory military service, which they maintained until the end of the 20th century and which had been almost exclusively male.

The national citizen army had ended with the apparent end of the era of state wars.

In 2022, almost all armies were made up of professional volunteers destined for a decades-long career: soldiers by choice and vocation.

Only a few countries maintained, for various reasons, military service, one or two years of imprisonment and training that enabled them to be part of the reserve.

And ten of them included men and women: Israel, Libya, Eritrea, Malaysia, North Korea, China, Taiwan, Peru, Sweden and Norway.

In countries as apparently civilized as Switzerland, with a long tradition of armed pacifism,

(There was, in those days, an extraordinary case of a female military corps: the women's detachments of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, in their fight against an ultra-religious group called Isis or the Islamic Army — which came to control vast territories in Iraq and Syria The idea was simple: those Islamists followed to the letter some strange religious texts (see chap.24) that said that soldiers who died fighting would go to their paradise, unless they were killed by a woman. executioners, great rapists—they were terrified when they had to face women who would definitely kill them and, thus, those female detachments achieved resounding victories. It was such a perfect judo shot, such an extreme triumph of reason over superstition,of a certain feminine cunning against the stupidity of so many men, that many tried to silence it: it could have served as an example.)

Soldiers from the Sri Lankan army parade on February 4 in celebration of the 75th anniversary of their country's independence day.Anadolu Agency (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

In any case, the reduction in expectations of open warfare and the modernization of combat had caused the great world armies to greatly reduce their members.

In 1990 the army of the Soviet Union had 3,350,000 troops, and that of the United States 2,170,000;

in 2020, the Russian had been reduced to one million and the American to one million three hundred thousand.

(Many armies of poorer countries also lost their usefulness. The case of Latin America is exemplary: there the national armies hardly fought during the entire 20th century, but they served to correct with their "coups d'état" any deviation from the order of the This function also became unnecessary, because the mechanisms of the democratic delegation ensured that defense —which then was not threatened by radical movements.)

Meanwhile, the war, in the rare cases in which it existed, ceased to be a monopoly of the states involved: the national armies ceased to be its only actors.

That pride of "defending the homeland" that, fueled by schools, media and priests, had served for generations of young people to get themselves killed for it, was fraying.

Many disbelieved in their homelands, and those who believed and claimed it did not want to be killed either.

Thus, the immense army of the United States did not have enough soldiers to sustain its long Asian occupations and, faced with the prospect of having to return to compulsory conscription, its government preferred to "outsource" part of its tasks to private firms that offered the services of mercenaries.

Its quantity was never confirmed, but calculations at the time assumed that, for example,

These services had the advantage that they could do things that a state and Democratic body should not, and that they could do it without accountability, in secret.

Two centuries after the French Revolution consecrated the "citizen national armies", the Fatherland-in-Arms, mercenaries had returned to be an important part of wars.

Many of them were not even American;

a Colombian or a Croatian charged less.

And, in small regional conflicts, fights over a uranium mine or a gas pipeline or control of a Central African province, it used to be easier to hire foreign and temporary personnel than to rely on the whims of local colonels: the use of mercenaries became widespread. , in those years, as never before.

It was a return to the origins.

For thousands of years armies had been private enterprises—of a king, a caliph, a maharajah—operated by indentured workers.

They were public for little more than two centuries: the first analysts already appeared who imagined that this form had been a parenthesis in the long history of soldiers for hire.

The companies that supplied them thrived on —relative— secrecy, taking advantage of the lack of attention.

They didn't just offer armed operations;

They also proposed a wide range of espionage maneuvers —what was then called, without sarcasm, “intelligence”— and other paramilitary services.

States were losing one of their main justifications: the monopoly of violence.

It was logical: if large corporations began to have more power than many states,


Until the Russian invasion, wars had been few and far between: in the rich world, the most recognized form of public violence was what, then, used to be called "terrorism."

It was, in general, isolated operations of bombs or shots against the population of a more or less important city, usually carried out by a small group of men willing to risk their lives.

Although for a long time it had had performers and varied goals—anarchists, resistance fighters, national liberation movements—in those years it was almost exclusively practiced by extreme Islamists: their religion made it easier for them to convince themselves that it was worth dying in the attempt, since that for them dying meant transferring to a "paradise" full of light and honey and complacent women.

Unlike those “classic terrorists”,

the islamists did not intend to impose new forms of political and social organization but old and traditional schemes: caliphates, sharias, various dogmas.

And, while that "terrorism" used to have defined, clear targets, the Islamic one was characterized by a random attack, without particular objectives, tending to install a confused and generalized terror in a population: "Since this violence has no logic, nothing guarantees me that it does not reach me”.

These “terrorist operations” had a lot of repercussions when they took place in Western capitals and much less when they did so in Asian or African cities where, of course, they killed so much more.

It was consistent with their development: they had come to the forefront of international news with the attack by an Islamist group of Saudi origin on two towers in New York City in 2001. In that operation, two hijacked commercial planes were launched against those two buildings. landmarks and killed some 3,000 people.

(That same day, in the rest of the globe, some 25,000 people died from causes related to famine. And the next day as many more, and the next, and the next.)

The two towers of the World Trade Center, after the crash of two planes on September 11, 2001.Getty Images

That attack had a touch of —evil— genius: it installed in the global consciousness the idea that —almost— any everyday object could become a weapon.

If a couple of planes—among the tens of thousands that roamed the world—could be used to attack a large capital, the world would become an unsuspected arsenal.

Twenty years later, however, it could be said that the lesson had not gone to school: except for some minor attacks with trucks and vans and kitchen knives, there had been no more violent use of the usual objects.

Even so, that 2001 attack allowed governments to set up a large repressive apparatus.

The “airports”, for example, became places of extreme social control —x-ray searches, pat-downs, interrogations, arbitrary arrests—, sustained by the approval of the majorities, traversed enough by the dominant discourse to be grateful that the They will control — “take care of” them — like this.

And the terrorist threat also served to justify more measures that would have been rejected in other circumstances: the spying on telephones and social networks, the rejection of migrants, the illegal prisons for suspects.

The "fight against terrorism" enabled extraordinary expenses: many billions of dollars a year were consumed in it,

Este uso de la amenaza terrorista fue un ejemplo de persistencia de un relato mucho más allá de la realidad que le había dado origen. En el año 2021, por ejemplo, el “Fondo de Seguridad Interior” contra el terrorismo de la Unión Europea gastó unos 275 millones de euros. Ese año el terrorismo islámico produjo, en toda la región, dos víctimas mortales: una fue acuchillada en Rambouillet, Francia; la otra en Leigh-on-Sea, Inglaterra.

The same groups that acted less and less in the wealthy capitals maintained an important activity and even occupied territories in their own regions.

Of the ten countries hardest hit by terrorism, five were African and five Asian.

His troops were deployed above all in certain countries of the Sahel —Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria— which were, at that time, among the most unstable and dangerous places on the planet.

There, yes, the actions of the “terrorists” produced hundreds or thousands of deaths every year, but their methods and goals were different: they tried to occupy territories and create bases to settle.

This is how they managed to define exclusion zones that no one approached and the general conviction that the worst types of violence had two causes:

or the will to impose Islamic precepts or to monopolize certain raw materials - or a good combination of both.

And, above all, they created the illusion that the world's public violence, concentrated in a few poor regions, was typical of poor societies—when, until then, it seemed clear that wars had always involved at least one wealthy state trying to impose their power or two who were fighting for hegemony.


The armies were reduced, the states hired mercenaries, the weapons changed, the wars —except the Russian one— did not confront states but more or less irregular groups.

However, analysts already imagined that the geopolitical and economic conflict for world supremacy between the United States and China would eventually lead to some form of global war: that no superpower would give up without a fight and that there would come a time when Americans would have to fight for their survival.

El ejército chino seguía siendo el más numeroso del mundo, con más de dos millones de soldados —un millón menos que en 1990. Pero en ese lapso había mejorado enormemente sus arsenales, barcos, aviones, satélites, misiles: se había convertido en un poder militar a la altura de su poder económico. Nadie preveía cómo sería ese conflicto, que sucedería en condiciones que la época no sabía ni quería imaginar. Unos pocos lo consideraban inevitable; la mayoría hablaba de otras cosas.

La invasión rusa a Ucrania lo puso, brevemente, en primer plano. La cumbre de la OTAN en Madrid, entonces la capital de España, en junio de 2022, marcó un punto de inflexión. Europa había pasado varias décadas tratando de despegarse de Estados Unidos pero la invasión produjo tal ola de temor que volvió a acercarlos. Su “Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte”, que, según el entonces presidente de Francia, “estaba en muerte cerebral”, resucitó de pronto. Estados Unidos logró que los europeos se encolumnaran detrás de su liderazgo para enfrentar la amenaza rusa —y china—: así captó a dos de los últimos países neutrales que quedaban en la región, Suecia y Finlandia, y, sobre todo, consiguió que todos se comprometieran a aumentar considerablemente su gasto militar —un mínimo de dos por ciento de su PIB— y la cantidad de soldados dispuestos al combate.

Se impusieron, para eso, las ideas de los analistas que interpretaron la invasión rusa como un ensayo que los chinos aprovechaban para tantear las reacciones de Estados Unidos y sus aliados y definir, en función de ellas, si lanzarían por fin su tan temido ataque a Taiwán, la isla que durante siglos había formado parte de su reino. Muchos imaginaban que esa invasión era ineludible: solo dudaban de cuándo sucedería. Y que sería —quizás— el principio de esa guerra que redibujaría el mapa del mundo. Ya sabemos, por supuesto, en qué se equivocaban, en qué no.

Artillería del ejército ucranio el pasado 17 de marzo en el frente de Donetsk.Anadolu Agency (Getty Images)

La situación era confusa. Y la desorientación general —o el miedo— de los poderes del mundo frente a la evolución de las formas de la guerra puede sintetizarse en una historia menor: en esos días el gobierno francés contrató a cinco escritores de ciencia-ficción para que imaginaran cuáles podrían ser las amenazas tecnológicas militares y paramilitares que enfrentarían en el futuro. Es probable que hayan imaginado sobre todo combates espaciales y esas vicisitudes que la época todavía suponía, pero nunca lo sabremos: los resultados de la iniciativa se perdieron en algún vericueto burocrático y ya nadie recuerda cuáles fueron ni, por lo tanto, cuánto se cumplieron.

Las guerras siempre habían producido avances técnicos importantes —y muchos de los grandes inventos de esos tiempos tenían que ver con los militares: el inter-net, sin ir más lejos, o el GPS o la fotografía digital (ver cap.18). Pero servían, sobre todo, para que algunos ganaran mucha plata. En la fabricación de armas, por supuesto, pero también en la reparación de lo dañado por ellas: un negocio redondo. En esos días, con la invasión de Ucrania en su momento más brutal, miles de compañías —literalmente miles de compañías— de docenas de países, de muy diversos sectores, ya habían empezado a ofrecer sus servicios para la “reconstrucción” de la nación dañada. Cálculos muy preliminares imaginaban que la operación podía llegar a mover unos 500.000 millones de dólares.

Aunque, entonces, la ofensiva rusa aparecía cada vez menos en los diarios y otros medios de la época. La historiadora desatenta podría fácilmente creer que se había convertido en un conflicto casi durmiente; pero, al buscar más información, se encuentra con que la violencia y sus víctimas seguían siendo por lo menos tantas como al principio, solo que la novedad ya se había disipado. Pocos procesos ilustran mejor la visión que tenía aquella sociedad de sus problemas: le interesaban cuando eran nuevos, se asustaba, se indignaba, reaccionaba airada, y después se iba acostumbrando hasta que, al final, aquello que poco antes le había parecido intolerable desaparecía de su foco de atención.

Next installment

23. Private violencePrivate violence was growing in many countries —and especially against women.

The death penalty receded like never before, but the great powers maintained it as always.

And yet the world lived its most peaceful times.

the world then

A history of the present

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Source: elparis

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