WAR is a state of armed conflict between states or societies . It is
generally characterized by extreme aggression , destruction, and
mortality, using regular or irregular military forces . An absence of
war is usually called "peace ". WARFARE refers to the common
activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general.
Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate
military targets , and can result in massive civilian or other
non-combatant suffering and casualties .
While some scholars see war as a universal and ancestral aspect of
human nature , others argue it is a result of specific socio-cultural
or ecological circumstances.
The deadliest war in history, in terms of the cumulative number of
deaths since its start, is
World War II
World War II , from 1939 to 1945, with
60–85 million deaths, followed by the
Mongol conquests at up to 60
million. As concerns a belligerent's losses in proportion to its
prewar population, the most destructive war in modern history may have
Paraguayan War (see
Paraguayan War casualties ). In 2013 war
resulted in 31,000 deaths, down from 72,000 deaths in 1990. In 2003,
Richard Smalley identified war as the sixth (of ten) biggest problem
facing humanity for the next fifty years.
War usually results in
significant deterioration of infrastructure and the ecosystem, a
decrease in social spending, famine , large-scale emigration from the
war zone, and often the mistreatment of prisoners of war or civilians.
For instance, of the nine million people who were on the territory
of the Byelorussian SSR in 1941, some 1.6 million were killed by the
Germans in actions away from battlefields, including about 700,000
prisoners of war, 500,000 Jews, and 320,000 people counted as
partisans (the vast majority of whom were unarmed civilians). Another
byproduct of some wars is the prevalence of propaganda by some or all
parties in the conflict, and increased revenues by weapons
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Types
* 3 History
* 3.1 Largest by death toll
* 4 Effects
* 4.1 On military personnel
* 4.2 On civilians
* 4.3 On the economy
World War II
World War II
* 4.4 On the arts
* 5 Aims
* 5.1 Definition
* 5.2 Classification
* 6 Ongoing conflicts
* 7 Limiting and stopping
* 8 Theories for motivation
* 8.1 Psychoanalytic psychology
* 8.2 Evolutionary
* 8.3 Economic
* 8.4 Marxist
* 8.5 Demographic
* 8.5.1 Malthusian
* 8.6 Rationalist
* 8.7 Political science
* 8.7.1 System-level theories
* 8.7.2 Societal-level theories
* 8.7.3 Individual-level theories
* 9 Ethics
* 10 See also
* 11 References
* 11.1 Bibliography
* 12 External links
War (1896), by
The English word war derives from the late
Old English (circa.1050)
words wyrre and werre, from
Old French werre (also guerre as in modern
French), in turn from the Frankish *werra, ultimately deriving from
the Proto-Germanic *werzō 'mixture, confusion'. The word is related
Old Saxon werran,
Old High German werran, and the German
verwirren, meaning “to confuse”, “to perplex”, and “to bring
into confusion”. In German, the equivalent is Krieg (from
Proto-Germanic *krīganą 'to strive, be stubborn'); the Spanish,
Portuguese , and Italian term for "war" is guerra, derived like the
Old French term from the Germanic word. Etymologic legend has it that
the Romanic peoples adopted a foreign, Germanic word for "war", to
avoid using the
Latin bellum, because, when sounded, it tended to
merge with the sound of the word bello ("beautiful").
The scholarly study of war is sometimes called polemology
(/ˌpɒləˈmɒlədʒi/ POL-ə-MOL-ə-jee ), from the Greek polemos,
meaning "war", and
-logy , meaning "the study of".
Main article: Types of war
War must entail some degree of confrontation using weapons and other
military technology and equipment by armed forces employing military
tactics and operational art within a broad military strategy subject
to military logistics . Studies of war by military theorists
throughout military history have sought to identify the philosophy of
war , and to reduce it to a military science . Modern military science
considers several factors before a national defence policy is created
to allow a war to commence: the environment in the area(s) of combat
operations, the posture national forces will adopt on the commencement
of a war, and the type of warfare troops will be engaged in.
Asymmetric warfare is a conflict between two populations of
drastically different levels of military capability or size.
Biological warfare , or germ warfare, is the use of weaponized
biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and
Chemical warfare involves the use of weaponized chemicals in
combat. Poison gas as a chemical weapon was principally used during
World War I
World War I , and resulted in over a million estimated casualties,
including more than 100,000 civilians.
Guernica (1937). The
Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War was one of
Europe's bloodiest and most brutal civil wars.
Civil war is a war between forces belonging to the same nation or
Conventional warfare is declared war between states in which
nuclear , biological , or chemical weapons are not used or see limited
Cyberwarfare involves the actions by a nation-state or
international organization to attack and attempt to damage another
nation's information systems.
Information warfare is the application of destructive force on a
large scale against information assets and systems, against the
computers and networks that support the four critical infrastructures
(the power grid, communications, financial, and transportation).
Nuclear warfare is warfare in which nuclear weapons are the
primary, or a major, method of achieving capitulation.
Total war is warfare by any means possible, disregarding the laws
of war , placing no limits on legitimate military targets , using
weapons and tactics resulting in significant civilian casualties , or
demanding a war effort requiring significant sacrifices by the
friendly civilian population.
Unconventional warfare , the opposite of conventional warfare, is
an attempt to achieve military victory through acquiescence,
capitulation, or clandestine support for one side of an existing
War of aggression is a war for conquest or gain rather than
self-defense; this can be the basis of war crimes under customary
international law .
Military history The percentages of men killed in
war in eight tribal societies, and Europe and the U.S. in the 20th
century. (Lawrence H. Keeley, archeologist)
The earliest recorded evidence of war belongs to the Mesolithic
Site 117 , which has been determined to be approximately
14,000 years old. About forty-five percent of the skeletons there
displayed signs of violent death. Since the rise of the state some
5,000 years ago, military activity has occurred over much of the
globe. The advent of gunpowder and the acceleration of technological
advances led to modern warfare. According to Conway W. Henderson, "One
source claims that 14,500 wars have taken place between 3500 BC and
the late 20th century, costing 3.5 billion lives, leaving only 300
years of peace (Beer 1981: 20)." An unfavorable review of this
estimate mentions the following regarding one of the proponents of
this estimate: "In addition, perhaps feeling that the war casualties
figure was improbably high, he changed "approximately 3,640,000,000
human beings have been killed by war or the diseases produced by war"
to "approximately 1,240,000,000 human beings..."> Japanese samurai
attacking a Mongol ship, 13th century
In Western Europe, since the late 18th century, more than 150
conflicts and about 600 battles have taken place. During the 20th
century, war resulted in a dramatic intensification of the pace of
social changes, and was a crucial catalyst for the emergence of the
Left as a force to be reckoned with.
Recent rapid increases in the technologies of war, and therefore in
its destructiveness (see mutual assured destruction ), have caused
widespread public concern, and have in all probability forestalled,
and may altogether prevent the outbreak of a nuclear World
War III. At
the end of each of the last two World Wars, concerted and popular
efforts were made to come to a greater understanding of the underlying
dynamics of war and to thereby hopefully reduce or even eliminate it
altogether. These efforts materialized in the forms of the League of
Nations , and its successor, the United Nations.
World War II
World War II , as a token of support for this concept,
most nations joined the United Nations. During this same post-war
period, with the aim of further delegitimizing war as an acceptable
and logical extension of foreign policy, most national governments
also renamed their Ministries or Departments of
War as their
Ministries or Departments of Defense, for example, the former U.S.
War was renamed as the
U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. Department of Defense .
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1894), the Indian Wars of
the 19th century cost the lives of about 50,000.
In 1947, in view of the rapidly increasingly destructive consequences
of modern warfare, and with a particular concern for the consequences
and costs of the newly developed atom bomb ,
Albert Einstein famously
stated, "I know not with what weapons World
War III will be fought,
War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
Mao Zedong urged the socialist camp not to fear nuclear war with the
United States since, even if "half of mankind died, the other half
would remain while imperialism would be razed to the ground and the
whole world would become socialist."
Human Security Report 2005 documented a significant decline in
the number and severity of armed conflicts since the end of the Cold
War in the early 1990s. However, the evidence examined in the 2008
edition of the Center for International Development and Conflict
Peace and Conflict" study indicated the overall decline
in conflicts had stalled.
LARGEST BY DEATH TOLL
List of wars by death toll
List of wars by death toll and
Outline of war
Outline of war § Wars
Three of the ten most costly wars, in terms of loss of life, have
been waged in the last century. These are the two World Wars, followed
Second Sino-Japanese War (which is sometimes considered part of
World War II
World War II , or as overlapping). Most of the others involved China
or neighboring peoples. The death toll of World
War II, being over 60
million, surpasses all other war-death-tolls.
World War II
World War II (see
World War II
World War II casualties )
Mongol Conquests (see Mongol invasions and
Tatar invasions )
Taiping Rebellion (see Dungan revolt )
World War I
World War I (see
World War I
World War I casualties )
An Shi Rebellion (death toll uncertain)
Qing dynasty conquest of
Second Sino-Japanese War
Russian Civil War and Foreign Intervention
Disability-adjusted life year
Disability-adjusted life year for war per 100,000 inhabitants in
2004 no data less than 100 100–200 200–600 600–1000
1000–1400 1400–1800 1800–2200 2200–2600 2600–3000
3000–8000 8000–8800 more than 8800
ON MILITARY PERSONNEL
Military personnel subject to combat in war often suffer mental and
physical injuries, including depression, posttraumatic stress disorder
, disease, injury, and death.
In every war in which American soldiers have fought in, the chances
of becoming a psychiatric casualty – of being debilitated for some
period of time as a consequence of the stresses of military life –
were greater than the chances of being killed by enemy fire. — No
More Heroes, Richard Gabriel
War II, research conducted by
US Army Brigadier General
S.L.A. Marshall found, on average, 15% to 20% of American riflemen in
WWII combat fired at the enemy. In Civil
Encyclopedia, F.A. Lord notes that of the 27,574 discarded muskets
found on the Gettysburg battlefield, nearly 90% were loaded, with
12,000 loaded more than once and 6,000 loaded 3 to 10 times. These
studies suggest most military personnel resist firing their weapons in
combat, that – as some theorists argue – human beings have an
inherent resistance to killing their fellow human beings. Swank and
Marchand’s WWII study found that after sixty days of continuous
combat, 98% of all surviving military personnel will become
psychiatric casualties. Psychiatric casualties manifest themselves in
fatigue cases, confusional states, conversion hysteria, anxiety,
obsessional and compulsive states, and character disorders.
One-tenth of mobilised American men were hospitalised for mental
disturbances between 1942 and 1945, and after thirty-five days of
uninterrupted combat, 98% of them manifested psychiatric disturbances
in varying degrees. — 14–18: Understanding the Great War,
Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau, Annette Becker The Apotheosis of War
Additionally, it has been estimated anywhere from 18% to 54% of
Vietnam war veterans suffered from
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder .
Based on 1860 census figures, 8% of all white American males aged 13
to 43 died in the
American Civil War , including about 6% in the North
and approximately 18% in the South. The war remains the deadliest
conflict in American history, resulting in the deaths of 620,000
United States military casualties of war since
1775 have totaled over two million. Of the 60 million European
military personnel who were mobilized in
World War I
World War I , 8 million were
killed, 7 million were permanently disabled, and 15 million were
seriously injured. The remains of dead
Crow Indians killed and
scalped by Sioux c. 1874
During Napoleon 's retreat from Moscow, more French military
personnel died of typhus than were killed by the Russians. Of the
450,000 soldiers who crossed the Neman on 25 June 1812, less than
40,000 returned. More military personnel were killed from 1500–1914
by typhus than from military action. In addition, if it were not for
modern medical advances there would be thousands more dead from
disease and infection. For instance, during the Seven Years\'
Royal Navy reported it conscripted 184,899 sailors, of whom
133,708 died of disease or were 'missing'.
It is estimated that between 1985 and 1994, 378,000 people per year
died due to war.
Civilian casualties Les Grandes Misères de la guerre
depict the destruction unleashed on civilians during the Thirty
Most wars have resulted in significant loss of life, along with
destruction of infrastructure and resources (which may lead to famine
, disease, and death in the civilian population ). During the Thirty
War in Europe, the population of the
Holy Roman Empire was
reduced by 15 to 40 percent. Civilians in war zones may also be
subject to war atrocities such as genocide , while survivors may
suffer the psychological aftereffects of witnessing the destruction of
Most estimates of
World War II
World War II casualties indicate around 60 million
people died, 40 million of which were civilians. Deaths in the Soviet
Union were around 27 million . Since a high proportion of those
killed were young men who had not yet fathered any children,
population growth in the postwar
Soviet Union was much lower than it
otherwise would have been.
ON THE ECONOMY
Once a war has ended, losing nations are sometimes required to pay
war reparations to the victorious nations. In certain cases, land is
ceded to the victorious nations. For example, the territory of
Alsace-Lorraine has been traded between France and Germany on three
Typically, war becomes intertwined with the economy and many wars are
partially or entirely based on economic reasons. Some economists
believe war can stimulate a country's economy (high government
World War II
World War II is often credited with bringing the U.S. out
Great Depression by most
Keynesian economists) but in many
cases, such as the wars of Louis XIV, the
Franco-Prussian War , and
World War I
World War I , warfare primarily results in damage the economy of the
countries involved. For example, Russia's involvement in World
took such a toll on the Russian economy that it almost collapsed and
greatly contributed to the start of the
Russian Revolution of 1917 .
Warsaw 's Napoleon Square in the aftermath of World War
World War II
World War II was the most financially costly conflict in history; its
belligerents cumulatively spent about a trillion U.S. dollars on the
war effort (as adjusted to 1940 prices). The
Great Depression of the
1930s ended as nations increased their production of war materials.
By the end of the war, 70% of European industrial infrastructure was
destroyed. Property damage in the
Soviet Union inflicted by the Axis
invasion was estimated at a value of 679 billion rubles. The combined
damage consisted of complete or partial destruction of 1,710 cities
and towns, 70,000 villages/hamlets, 2,508 church buildings, 31,850
industrial establishments, 40,000 mi (64,374 km) of railroad, 4100
railroad stations, 40,000 hospitals, 84,000 schools, and 43,000 public
ON THE ARTS
War leads to forced migration causing potentially large displacements
of population. Among forced migrants there are usually relatively
large shares of artists and other types of creative people, causing so
the war effects to be particularly harmful for the country’s
creative potential in the long-run.
War also has a negative effect on
an artists’ individual life-cycle output.
In war, cultural institutions, such as libraries, can become "targets
in themselves; their elimination was a way to denigrate and demoralize
the enemy population." The impact such destruction can have on a
society is important because "in an era in which competing ideologies
fuel internal and international conflict, the destruction of libraries
and other items of cultural significance is neither random nor
irrelevant. Preserving the world’s repositories of knowledge is
crucial to ensuring that the darkest moments of history do not
endlessly repeat themselves."
Entities deliberately contemplating going to war and entities
considering whether to end a war may formulate war aims as an
War aims may stand as a proxy for
Fried defines war aims as "the desired territorial, economic,
military or other benefits expected following successful conclusion of
* Tangible war aims may involve (for example) the acquisition of
territory (as in the German goal of
Lebensraum in the first half of
the 20th century) or the recognition of economic concessions (as in
Anglo-Dutch Wars ).
* Intangible war aims – like the accumulation of credibility or
reputation – may have more tangible expression ("conquest restores
prestige, annexation increases power").
* Explicit war aims may involve published policy decisions.
* Implicit war aims can take the form of minutes of discussion,
memoranda and instructions.
* "Positive war aims" cover tangible outcomes.
* "Negative war aims" forestall or prevent undesired outcomes.
War aims can change in the course of conflict and may eventually
morph into "peace conditions" – the minimal conditions under which
a state may cease to wage a particular war.
List of ongoing military conflicts
List of ongoing military conflicts
There are currently dozens of ongoing armed conflicts around the
world, the deadliest of which is the
Syrian Civil War .
LIMITING AND STOPPING
Anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., March 15, 2003 Main
Anti-war movement See also:
Aestheticization of violence
Aestheticization of violence
Religious groups have long formally opposed or sought to limit war as
Second Vatican Council document Gaudiem et Spes: "Any act of
war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of
extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and
man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation."
Anti-war movements have existed for every major war in the 20th
century, including, most prominently,
World War I
World War I ,
World War II
World War II , and
Vietnam War . In the 21st century, worldwide anti-war movements
occurred in response to the United States invasion of Afghanistan and
Iraq . Protests opposing the
War in Afghanistan occurred in Europe,
Asia, and the United States. Organizations like Stop the
, based in the United Kingdom, worked on campaigning against the war.
Mexican Drug War , with estimated casualties of 40,000 since
December 2006, has recently faced fundamental opposition. In 2011,
the movement for peace and justice has started a popular middle-class
movement against the war. It won the recognition of President
Calderon, who began war.
THEORIES FOR MOTIVATION
The Ottoman campaign for territorial expansion in Europe in 1566
There is no scholarly agreement on which are the most common
motivations for war.
Carl von Clausewitz
Carl von Clausewitz said, 'Every age had its own
kind of war, its own limiting conditions, and its own peculiar
Joost Meerloo held that, "
War is often...a mass
discharge of accumulated internal rage (where)...the inner fears of
mankind are discharged in mass destruction." Thus war can sometimes
be a means by which man's own frustration at his inability to master
his own self is expressed and temporarily relieved via his unleashing
of destructive behavior upon others. In this destructive scenario,
these others are made to serve as the scapegoat of unspoken and
subconscious frustrations and fears.
Other psychoanalysts such as E.F.M. Durban and
John Bowlby have
argued human beings are inherently violent. This aggressiveness is
fueled by displacement and projection where a person transfers his or
her grievances into bias and hatred against other races , religions,
nations or ideologies . By this theory, the nation state preserves
order in the local society while creating an outlet for aggression
The Italian psychoanalyst Franco Fornari, a follower of Melanie Klein
, thought war was the paranoid or projective “elaboration” of
mourning. Fornari thought war and violence develop out of our “love
need”: our wish to preserve and defend the sacred object to which we
are attached, namely our early mother and our fusion with her. For the
adult, nations are the sacred objects that generate warfare. Fornari
focused upon sacrifice as the essence of war: the astonishing
willingness of human beings to die for their country, to give over
their bodies to their nation.
Despite Fornari's theory that man's altruistic desire for
self-sacrifice for a noble cause is a contributing factor towards
war,few wars have originated from a desire for war among the general
populace. Far more often the general population has been reluctantly
drawn into war by its rulers. One psychological theory that looks at
the leaders is advanced by Maurice Walsh. He argues the general
populace is more neutral towards war and wars occur when leaders with
a psychologically abnormal disregard for human life are placed into
War is caused by leaders who seek war such as Napoleon and
Hitler . Such leaders most often come to power in times of crisis when
the populace opts for a decisive leader, who then leads the nation to
Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in
England nor in America, 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. ... the people can always be
brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to
do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for
lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the
same way in any country. —
Hermann Göring at the Nuremberg
trials, April 18, 1946
Prehistoric warfare Women and priests retrieve the
dead bodies of Swabian soldiers just outside the city gates of
Constance after the battle of Schwaderloh . (
Luzerner Schilling )
Several theories concern the evolutionary origins of warfare. There
are two main schools: One sees organized warfare as emerging in or
after the Mesolithic as a result of complex social organization and
greater population density and competition over resources; the other
sees human warfare as a more ancient practice derived from common
animal tendencies, such as territoriality and sexual competition.
The latter school argues that since warlike behavior patterns are
found in many primate species such as chimpanzees , as well as in
many ant species, group conflict may be a general feature of animal
social behavior. Some proponents of the idea argue that war, while
innate, has been intensified greatly by developments of technology and
social organization such as weaponry and states.
Psychologist and linguist
Steven Pinker argued that war-related
behaviors may have been naturally selected in the ancestral
environment due to the benefits of victory. He also argued that in
order to have credible deterrence against other groups (as well as on
an individual level), it was important to have a reputation for
retaliation, causing humans to develop instincts for revenge as well
as for protecting a group's (or an individual's) reputation ("honor
"). Increasing population and constant warfare among the Maya
city-states over resources may have contributed to the eventual
collapse of the
Maya civilization by AD 900.
Crofoot and Wrangham have argued that warfare, if defined as group
interactions in which "coalitions attempt to aggressively dominate or
kill members of other groups", is a characteristic of most human
societies. Those in which it has been lacking "tend to be societies
that were politically dominated by their neighbors".
Ashley Montagu strongly denied universalistic instinctual arguments,
arguing that social factors and childhood socialization are important
in determining the nature and presence of warfare. Thus, he argues,
warfare is not a universal human occurrence and appears to have been a
historical invention, associated with certain types of human
societies. Montagu's argument is supported by ethnographic research
conducted in societies where the concept of aggression seems to be
entirely absent, e.g. the
Chewong and Semai of the Malay peninsula.
Bobbi S. Low has observed correlation between warfare and education,
noting societies where warfare is commonplace encourage their children
to be more aggressive.
Kuwaiti oil wells on fire, during the
Gulf War , 1 March 1991
War can be seen as a growth of economic competition in a competitive
international system. In this view wars begin as a pursuit of markets
for natural resources and for wealth.
War has also been linked to
economic development by economic historians and development economists
studying state-building and fiscal capacity . While this theory has
been applied to many conflicts, such counter arguments become less
valid as the increasing mobility of capital and information level the
distributions of wealth worldwide, or when considering that it is
relative, not absolute, wealth differences that may fuel wars. There
are those on the extreme right of the political spectrum who provide
support, fascists in particular, by asserting a natural right of a
strong nation to whatever the weak cannot hold by force. Some
centrist, capitalist, world leaders, including Presidents of the
United States and U.S. Generals , expressed support for an economic
view of war.
The Marxist theory of war is quasi-economic in that it states all
modern wars are caused by competition for resources and markets
between great (imperialist ) powers, claiming these wars are a natural
result of the free market and class system . Part of the theory is
that war will disappear once a world revolution , over-throwing free
markets and class systems, has occurred. Marxist philosopher Rosa
Luxemburg theorized that imperialism was the result of capitalist
countries needing new markets . Expansion of the means of production
is only possible if there is a corresponding growth in consumer demand
. Since the workers in a capitalist economy would be unable to fill
the demand, producers must expand into non-capitalist markets to find
consumers for their goods, hence driving imperialism.
Demographic theories can be grouped into two classes, Malthusian and
youth bulge theories:
U.S. Marine helicopter on patrol in Somalia as part of the
Unified Task Force
Unified Task Force , 1992
Malthusian theories see expanding population and scarce resources as
a source of violent conflict.
Pope Urban II
Pope Urban II in 1095, on the eve of the
First Crusade , spoke:
For this land which you now inhabit, shut in on all sides by the sea
and the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; it
scarcely furnishes food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that
you murder and devour one another, that you wage wars, and that many
among you perish in civil strife. Let hatred, therefore, depart from
among you; let your quarrels end. Enter upon the road to the Holy
Sepulchre; wrest that land from a wicked race, and subject it to
This is one of the earliest expressions of what has come to be called
the Malthusian theory of war, in which wars are caused by expanding
populations and limited resources.
Thomas Malthus (1766–1834) wrote
that populations always increase until they are limited by war,
disease, or famine .
Median age by country.
War reduces life expectancy. A youth
bulge is evident for Africa , and to a lesser extent in some countries
in West Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Central America.
According to Heinsohn, who proposed youth bulge theory in its most
generalized form, a youth bulge occurs when 30 to 40 percent of the
males of a nation belong to the "fighting age" cohorts from 15 to 29
years of age. It will follow periods with total fertility rates as
high as 4–8 children per woman with a 15–29-year delay.
Heinsohn saw both past "Christianist" European colonialism and
imperialism, as well as today's Islamist civil unrest and terrorism as
results of high birth rates producing youth bulges. Among prominent
historical events that have been attributed to youth bulges are the
role played by the historically large youth cohorts in the rebellion
and revolution waves of early modern Europe, including the French
Revolution of 1789, and the effect of economic depression upon the
largest German youth cohorts ever in explaining the rise of
Germany in the 1930s. The 1994 Rwandan
Genocide has also been
analyzed as following a massive youth bulge.
Youth bulge theory has been subjected to statistical analysis by the
Population Action International , and the Berlin
Population and Development .
Youth bulge theories have
been criticized as leading to racial, gender and age discrimination.
U.S. soldiers directing artillery on enemy trucks in A Shau
Valley, April 1968
Rationalism is an international relations theory or framework.
Neorealism (international relations) ) operate under
the assumption that states or international actors are rational, seek
the best possible outcomes for themselves, and desire to avoid the
costs of war. Under a game theory approach, rationalist theories
posit all actors can bargain, would be better off if war did not
occur, and likewise seek to understand why war nonetheless reoccurs.
In "Rationalist Explanations for War",
James Fearon examined three
rationalist explanations for why some countries engage in war:
* Issue indivisibilities
* Incentives to misrepresent or information asymmetry
* Commitment problems
"Issue indivisibility" occurs when the two parties cannot avoid war
by bargaining, because the thing over which they are fighting cannot
be shared between them, but only owned entirely by one side or the
other. U.S. Marines direct a concentration of fire at the enemy,
Vietnam, 8 May 1968
Information asymmetry with incentives to misrepresent" occurs when
two countries have secrets about their individual capabilities, and do
not agree on either: who would win a war between them, or the
magnitude of state's victory or loss. For instance, Geoffrey Blainey
argues that war is a result of miscalculation of strength. He cites
historical examples of war and demonstrates, "war is usually the
outcome of a diplomatic crisis which cannot be solved because both
sides have conflicting estimates of their bargaining power." Thirdly,
bargaining may fail due to the states' inability to make credible
Within the rationalist tradition, some theorists have suggested that
individuals engaged in war suffer a normal level of cognitive bias ,
but are still "as rational as you and me". According to philosopher
Iain King , "Most instigators of conflict overrate their chances of
success, while most participants underrate their chances of
injury...." King asserts that "Most catastrophic military decisions
are rooted in
GroupThink " which is faulty, but still rational.
The rationalist theory focused around bargaining is currently under
Iraq War proved to be an anomaly that undercuts the
validity of applying rationalist theory to some wars.
The statistical analysis of war was pioneered by Lewis Fry Richardson
World War I
World War I . More recent databases of wars and armed
conflict have been assembled by the
Correlates of War Project, Peter
Brecke and the
Uppsala Conflict Data Program .
The following subsections consider causes of war from system,
societal, and individual levels of analysis. This kind of division was
first proposed by
Kenneth Waltz in
Man, the State, and War and has
been often used by political scientists since then. :143
There are several different international relations theory schools.
Supporters of realism in international relations argue that the
motivation of states is the quest for security, and conflicts can
arise from the inability to distinguish defense from offense, which is
called the security dilemma . :145
Within the realist school as represented by scholars such as Henry
Hans Morgenthau , and the neorealist school represented
by scholars such as
Kenneth Waltz and
John Mearsheimer , two main
* Balance of power theory: States have the goal of preventing a
single state from becoming a hegemon, and war is the result of the
would-be hegemon's persistent attempts at power acquisition. In this
view, an international system with more equal distribution of power is
more stable, and "movements toward unipolarity are destabilizing."
:147 However, evidence has shown power polarity is not actually a
major factor in the occurrence of wars. :147–48
Power transition theory : Hegemons impose stabilizing conditions
on the world order, but they eventually decline, and war occurs when a
declining hegemon is challenged by another rising power or aims to
preemptively suppress them. :148 On this view, unlike for
balance-of-power theory, wars become more probable when power is more
equally distributed. This "power preponderance" hypothesis has
empirical support. :148
The two theories are not mutually exclusive and may be used to
explain disparate events according to the circumstance. :148
Liberalism as it relates to international relations emphasizes
factors such as trade, and its role in disincentivizing conflict which
will damage economic relations. Realists respond that military force
may sometimes be at least as effective as trade at achieving economic
benefits, especially historically if not as much today. :149
Furthermore, trade relations which result in a high level of
dependency may escalate tensions and lead to conflict. :150 Empirical
data on the relationship of trade to peace are mixed, and moreover,
some evidence suggests countries at war don't necessarily trade less
with each other. :150
* Diversionary theory , also known as the "scapegoat hypothesis",
suggests the politically powerful may use war to as a diversion or to
rally domestic popular support. :152 This is supported by literature
showing out-group hostility enhances in-group bonding , and a
significant domestic "rally effect" has been demonstrated when
conflicts begin. :152–13 However, studies examining the increased
use of force as a function of need for internal political support are
more mixed. :152–53 U.S. war-time presidential popularity surveys
taken during the presidencies of several recent U.S. leaders have
supported diversionary theory.
These theories suggest differences in people's personalities,
decision-making, emotions, belief systems, and biases are important in
determining whether conflicts get out of hand. :157 For instance, it
has been proposed that conflict is modulated by bounded rationality
and various cognitive biases , :157 such as prospect theory .
Morning after the
Battle of Waterloo , by
John Heaviside Clark ,
The morality of war has been the subject of debate for thousands of
The two principal aspects of ethics in war, according to the just war
theory , are jus ad bellum and
Jus in bello
Jus in bello .
Jus ad bellum (right to war), dictates which unfriendly acts and
circumstances justify a proper authority in declaring war on another
nation. There are six main criteria for the declaration of a just war:
first, any just war must be declared by a lawful authority; second, it
must be a just and righteous cause, with sufficient gravity to merit
large-scale violence; third, the just belligerent must have rightful
intentions – namely, that they seek to advance good and curtail
evil; fourth, a just belligerent must have a reasonable chance of
success; fifth, the war must be a last resort; and sixth, the ends
being sought must be proportional to means being used.
Jus in bello
Jus in bello (right in war), is the set of ethical rules when
conducting war. The two main principles are proportionality and
discrimination. Proportionality regards how much force is necessary
and morally appropriate to the ends being sought and the injustice
suffered. The principle of discrimination determines who are the
legitimate targets in a war, and specifically makes a separation
between combatants, who it is permissible to kill, and who it is not.
Failure to follow these rules can result in the loss of legitimacy for
the just-war-belligerent. In besieged
Leningrad . "Hitler
ordered that Moscow and
Leningrad were to be razed to the ground;
their inhabitants were to be annihilated or driven out by starvation.
These intentions were part of the '
General Plan East
General Plan East '." – The
Oxford Companion to World
The just war theory was foundational in the creation of the United
Nations and in
International Law 's regulations on legitimate war.
Fascism, and the ideals it encompasses, such as
Pragmatism , racism,
and social Darwinism , hold that violence is good.
that war and violence can be good if it serves the ends of the people,
without regard for universal morality. Racism holds that violence is
good so that a master race can be established, or to purge an inferior
race from the earth, or both.
Social Darwinism asserts that violence
is sometimes necessary to weed the unfit from society so civilization
can flourish. These are broad archetypes for the general position that
the ends justify the means . Lewis Coser, U.S. conflict theorist and
sociologist, argued conflict provides a function and a process whereby
a succession of new equilibriums are created. Thus, the struggle of
opposing forces, rather than being disruptive, may be a means of
balancing and maintaining a social structure or society.
* OUTLINE OF WAR
Military operations other than war
* Breakaway states
Fault line war
War as metaphor
List of battles
List of battles and other violent events by death toll
List of battles by death toll
List of invasions
List of longest wars
List of ongoing conflicts
List of ongoing conflicts
List of orders of battle
Lists of wars
Lists of wars
List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll
List of wars by death toll
List of wars by death toll
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