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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Warfare by Other Means

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Warfare by Other Means Economics, demographics, cultural, technological, and other factors that have affected the course of history.

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  #1  
Old 04 Dec 15, 10:12
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7 Foods That Have Led to War

http://mentalfloss.com/article/71818...s-have-led-war
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  #2  
Old 15 Dec 15, 03:39
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The introduction of potatoes into New Zealand in the C18th was a major factor the 'Musket Wars' of the early C19th. In turn, those wars honed the Maori tribes into a formidable fighting force, as the British discovered.

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Historian James Belich has suggested "Potato Wars" as a more accurate name for these battles, due to the revolution the potato brought to the Māori economy.[6] Historian Angela Ballara says that new foods made some aspects of the wars different.[6] Potatoes were introduced in New Zealand in 1769[7] and they became a key staple with better food-value for weight than kūmara (sweet potato), and easier cultivation and storage. Unlike the kūmara, potatoes were tillable by slaves and women and this freed up men to go to war.[2]
Belich saw this as a logistical revolution, with potatoes effectively fuelled the long range taua that made the musket wars different from any fighting that had come before. Slaves captured in the raids were put to work tending potato patches, freeing up labour to create even larger taua. The duration of the raids was also longer by the 1820s; it became common for warriors to be away for up to a year because it was easier to grow a series of potato crops.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musket_Wars
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Old 16 Dec 15, 21:59
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The "arab spring" debacle was only the first, there will be many more Food Wars coming soon, and they will be much more violent and widespread.
Within a generation, most of the 3rd world will go up in flames as US productivity falls off and the Gang Green agenda makes cheap energy impossible to obtain.
All shipping is done by burning oil, after all.
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Old 17 Dec 15, 04:07
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A very disappointing article, all in all.

Did "Food" "lead" to these wars?

In the case of pastries and the pig, those were just casi belli between sides that were smarting for a fight anyway. By this token, another thing that led to war was a captain's ear, or the elopement of a married queen.

In the case of the blue crabs, sugar, and above all spices, those are technically foods, but they are fought over because they are above all commodities. You don't starve without crabs or without sugar. But you do make less money, let alone spice. They're closer to the opium wars, in terms of the reason why they were fought.

Salt? Not food. OK, of the utmost importance as food preserver; but again it's more a matter of making money (including taxes) than of not starving. Again a commodity. So valuable that the word "salary" (wage) comes from "sal" (Latin for salt).

Bread and flour? OK, that's right - but those aren't international conflicts, AKA wars. They are riots and revolts and at most civil wars.

Rice? This is the one real McCoy. However, if you look more closely, you see that famine led to war, yes, but what led to famine? Another war. So in terms of "leading", you've got a chicken-egg situation: who came first?

Make no mistake, competition for resources does lead to wars. Resources can certainly include, more than outright produced foodstuffs, regions that can produce food (remember that war about the unfaithful queen?). But these aren't examples of that.
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Old 17 Dec 15, 11:10
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BF....

I am not so sure as Mr Belich on the importance of the Potatoe to the Musket wars themselves.

Old scores had far more of an ability to become victories that wiped entire clans from whole regions with muskets. My wife, (A Ngapuhi herslef) told me that earlier defeats of her tribe were due to poor usage of a plentifully available weapon. The Ngapuhi learnt to teach individuals that could load muskets faster than anyone else to spend their battle time just reloading muskets, to be passed on to the best shots, to maximize their efficiency. This gave their operations a genocidal quality that was missing from traditional forms of Maori warfare, and enabled them to "settle", once and for all, fueds that had been dragging on for generations, some handed down from father to son.

The chief difficulty in fighting the Ngapuhi to begin with was that they were the ONLY tribe to posess muskets in any form. But the Marori had other problems, like handling gunpowder, or even obtaining suitable stocks of well mixed powder that was not unstable. ALL the tribes seemed to make the same error at some stage or another of letting their powder get far too wet before a battle, and not being able to dry it out fast enough, leaving the battle to be decided in the old manner anyway.

The Ngapuhi also used their own women and children in battle, in a big "wdge' shaped formation, with the wahini's firmly in the center, flanked by younger boys. Their job was to finish off enemy wounded as the battle rolled forward, while the children stripped the dead. Other, smaller, tribes could not afford to use their human resources in such a cohesive manner.

The advent of the "Gunfighter Pa" also scotched many later attempts by different groups to wipe out tribal groups to the man woman and child, as was their best practice. Women were carried off to become part and parcel of the tribe, but the men could potentially be lost, every one of them, and the children turned out into the countryside to fend or perish.

There was no qauter given if the situation warranted it. Witness the almost genocide of the Chatham Islanders, who could not compete, but were not as comprehensively wiped out as the Maori thought they were.

All of this has very little to do with the potatoe. Poataoes make pretty poor cold rations, and when you cannot light a fire for days due to enemy proximity or other reasons, if all you have are potatoes, your troops are going to go hungry, or eat grass.

I think mr Belich should look for an alternative explanation.

I cannot think of even one war started and continued purely on the grounds of foodstuffs. It's usually a causus belli thats in the background, but rarely if ever a principal cause.

Geoferry Blainey's "The Causes of War" does not list a single war fought between 1700 and the present that have a cause as a single or group of foostuffs.. And Blainey is still the acknowledged authourity on the subjet of causality.

Another crackpot theory from an historian on th 'make' bites the dust. Back to the drawing board, fellas!
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Old 17 Dec 15, 14:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
A very disappointing article, all in all.

Did "Food" "lead" to these wars?

In the case of pastries and the pig, those were just casi belli between sides that were smarting for a fight anyway. By this token, another thing that led to war was a captain's ear, or the elopement of a married queen.

.
In the case of the ear there is now considerable doubt as to whether
  1. Robert Jenkins actually lost his ear
  2. His real name was really Robert Jenkins
  3. He was actually a British subject
In the case of the ill fated pig it did give rise to the first recorded 'Christmas Truce' when both sides in the stand off had dinner together. By various accounts many pigs were sacrificed and anyone still capable of working out which end of a musket you pointed at the enemy (and what you did next) the following morning could have conquered the disputed territory.

However in the instance of the eloping married queen (is it technically possible for a married queen to elope?) this may have actually been a war over food as Troy may have been blocking the transport of grain from Black Sea regions to the Greek city states.
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Old 18 Dec 15, 05:34
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Originally Posted by MarkV View Post
In the case of the ear there is now considerable doubt as to whether
  1. Robert Jenkins actually lost his ear
  2. His real name was really Robert Jenkins
  3. He was actually a British subject
Indeed - which confirms my point, the war wasn't about that.


Quote:
However in the instance of the eloping married queen (is it technically possible for a married queen to elope?) this may have actually been a war over food as Troy may have been blocking the transport of grain from Black Sea regions to the Greek city states.
Yes, or demanding a toll or the equivalent of that. Yet it was not listed as a food-related war. The article writer seems to have stopped at the official names of these conflicts.
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Old 18 Dec 15, 05:38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drusus Nero View Post
It's usually a causus belli
The word is "casus", meaning "case" - a case of war, or for war.
"Cause" would be "causa" in Latin, not "causus".
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Old 18 Dec 15, 06:01
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Originally Posted by Michele View Post
The word is "casus", meaning "case" - a case of war, or for war.
"Cause" would be "causa" in Latin, not "causus".
Probably better translated as reason - a reason for war which covers both a justification (case) for war and a cause of war.
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Old 18 Dec 15, 06:09
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Of course. I wasn't trying to translate but to explain how the mistake ("causus") comes into being: people think "cause" where they should be thinking "case".
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Old 19 Dec 15, 02:24
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I thank my learned friends for pointing out the error of my ways, to be classified as a "non-error" in any case by the ever ready brilliance of Mark.

all of which has nothing to do with potatoes or foodstuffs as CASUS Belli, or in any casus, anyway!

My head hurts!

Rally, though, can we honestly think of a food that even INFLUENCED the outcome of a battle, if not the actual cause of the conflict?

Chicken Marengo, anyone?
The War of Jenkin's Pig Trotters basted with a plum sauce?
The Long Grain Rice March?
Hitler declaring war on the entire french people to get access to a decent French vegetarian restuarant?

Gordon Ramsay has, by the way, declared vegetarianism and Paris as incompatable.

The more I think about this 'theory', the more of a Duck Soup it sounds.
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Old 19 Dec 15, 07:21
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Originally Posted by Drusus Nero View Post

Rally, though, can we honestly think of a food that even INFLUENCED the outcome of a battle, if not the actual cause of the conflict?
There is a story that in 1847, Commodore Coe of the Uruguayan navy in combat with the Argentinian navy having run out of iron cannonballs ordered stale edam cheeses to be loaded and fired and one of these splintered on impact injuring a number of sailors on the Argentinian ship which disengaged. Yes it does sound ridiculous and mythbusters have tried it with inconclusive results (a fresh edam won't do the job). However ships of the time did carry cheeses in some numbers and in the RN at least sailors found that really old edams could be carved and polished like a very hard wood or ivory (a form of scrimshaw work) so Coe's ship could have been firing what amounted to very large snooker balls.
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Old 19 Dec 15, 12:32
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Actually

Aren't there examples of insurrection where land owners converted all available land to a cash crop for export, creating local famine that in turn lead to violence?
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Old 19 Dec 15, 12:46
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There have certainly been wars over the sugar islands in the West Indies (see Franklin's Thoughts on Privateering and the Sugar Islands) and some very nasty little conflicts in the East Indies over the Spice Islands.
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Old 20 Dec 15, 05:24
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The Dutch- Portuguese war was fought over both spices and sugar and lasted from 1601 to 1661 and was fought in the Atlantic Brazil, West Africa, Southern Africa; Indian Ocean: India, East Indies, Indochina; China with the Dutch constantly seizing bits of the Portuguese empire - firstly spice islands and then sugar islands, England played a subsidiary and unofficial part initially supporting the Dutch but from 1640 in alliance with Portugal after they had had severed ties with Spain. The latter stages have sometimes been called the Sugar War.
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