Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
Thus, paradoxically, peace increases our peril, by making discipline less urgent, encouraging some of our worst instincts, and depriving us of some of our best leaders. The great Prussian general Helmuth von Moltke knew whereof he spoke when he wrote a friend, “Everlasting peace is a dream, not even a pleasant one; war is a necessary part of God’s arrangement of the world. ... Without war the world would deteriorate into materialism.” As usual, Machiavelli dots his i’s and crosses the t’s: it’s not just that peace undermines discipline and thereby gives the destructive vices greater sway. If we actually achieved peace, “Indolence would either make (the state) effeminate or shatter her unity; and two things together, or each by itself, would be the cause of her ruin ...” This is Machiavelli’s variation on a theme by Mitterrand: the absence of movement is the beginning of defeat. (Michael Ledeen, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership)