Last night I watched an old science fiction movie. The plot revolved around a group of scientists who sought to put an end to war by creating an enemy common to all Mankind. They reckoned that if all nations had a common enemy, they’d cease fighting among themselves.

They reasoned that such a common enemy would motivate the nations of Earth to unite and form one world government.  By their reasoning, such unity would mean an end to war.

Perhaps, if any one government became powerful enough to control the entire world, there really would be no war as we know it. Strong men, such as Tito and Saddam Hussein have been able to suppress ethnic hostilities. If this is possible in regions such as Yugoslavia and Iraq, then in theory it could be done throughout the world as well.

But at what cost? As diversity increases, within any given area, our liberties diminish. If a given area is defined as “the world,” then our liberties would be few indeed. We would have reached maximal diversity – and minimal liberty.

We often hear it said that our soldiers “died for our freedom.” Yes, I think they did. They died for our freedom because they helped perpetuate a world of rival nations, of rival interests and rival governments. Only in such a world can we enjoy individual liberty. Given human nature, it seems to me that there are but two paths we can take: 1) A multitude of nations – and regular warfare or 2) A united world with no large-scale warfare. With option number one, we suffer the horrors of war, but we might enjoy a measure of freedom. With option number two, we are slaves to a remote and unseen master.

To be sure, there are times when we enjoy both peace and liberty. But such peace is inevitably punctuated by war. The fact that these wars tend to occur about once every generation implies that, horrific as they may be, they serve some functions. One of these functions is to reinforce our divided world of rival nations. Perhaps this lack of unity is a necessary ingredient for liberty. Since such wars cannot be fought without soldiers, we do indeed owe them our gratitude.

They died for our freedom. For this I thank them.