[FOUNTAIN]Get it over with?

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[FOUNTAIN]Get it over with?

A Prussian general and military strategist, Karl von Clausewitz, defined a war as "a continuation of politics by other means" in his work, "On War." When diplomacy based on dialogue no longer works, war erupts.

But war is not motivated only by politics. The Korean War was a war based on ideological differences, while wars in the Middle East or between India and Pakistan have been religious in nature. The two world wars, which were far larger in scale, were caused by complicated political and economic issues: nationalism, balance of power and competition to acquire natural resources, the latter more important as industrialization progressed.

Donald Kagan, a professor at Yale University, cited three major causes of war in his book, "On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace": fear, pursuit of interests and a desire for honor.

These days, pursuit of economic interests is the main cause of military disputes. Many people agree that the United States is now preparing for war against Iraq for economic reasons -- securing oil.

It is ironic that war preparations motivated by economic reasons are casting a shadow on the global economy. Stock markets around the world are plunging daily and crude oil prices are skyrocketing because of the instability caused by the prospect of war against Iraq.

What would happen if war actually breaks out? A number of economists say the start of a war would lift the global economy. This is not about economic demand caused by a war; since anxiety is reflected in stock and oil prices, the economy would revive because of expectations of a speedy end to the war.

Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist and economic adviser to President Reagan, said a war against Iraq would lift the Dow Jones Industrial Average by thousands of points.

The point of these commentators is that if war is inevitable, let's get it started as soon as possible.

The background of such jingoism and exclusivist nationalism dates back to the Gulf War of 1991. Stock prices, which fell 17 percent after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, rebounded 24 percent when the war ended within a week.

But these hawkish economists are overlooking one thing. There is no guarantee that the war would be concluded as fast as the Gulf War. David Weiss, a senior analyst at Standard & Poor's, said if the war extended for a long time and spread to the entire Middle East, the U.S. economy would sink deeply -- a so-called "double-dip" recession.

The writer is the JoongAng Ilbo Berlin correspondent.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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