Die Menschen fürchten den Krieg. Leider nicht alle. Einige betreiben ihn. Und nicht nur die da oben.

Would anyone be able to explain the use of betreiben here? I’ve never seen it used to mean “promote” before?

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This sentence is not the most literal translation, but “betreiben” is often translated “pursue” or “carry something out”. So I think the idea here is that some people engage in behaviors that end up carrying out or leading to or playing a key role in war. Related to this, the noun “Betreiben” is often translated as “instigation”, so you can think of “betreiben” as having a meaning here close to “instigate”. “Promote” is one of many ways to translate it in this context, although such a word would probably not work as a translation of this same verb in most contexts.

Interestingly, “betreiben” is most often translated “operate”, and even if we don’t really use the word “operate” this way, the word “operator” in English can also be used in a similar way, like if you say: “He’s a real operator.” it can have the connotation of someone who is scheming and coordinating things in order to make something (often not something good) happen.