War and Peace Among Peoples and Nations

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Department of History and Geography

MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

Baltimore, Maryland 21251-0001.

War and Peace Among Peoples and Nations: A Historical Examination of the development of World War II, and the impact on Europe and the world.

By

Instructor: Dr Aubrey A. Thompson.

Course/Class: History 102.

Date: Monday, April 8th, 2011

INTRODUCTION:

Dating back to ancient civilizations, humans have always engaged in war and conquests. With civilization, man seems to have developed two sets of opposing traits: individualistic traits like selfishness and competitiveness versus sociable traits like loyalty, self-sacrifice and kindness. The first set of traits likely to stimulate war while the second set of traits brings peace and togetherness. [1] The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines war as “a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations ”. Wars take different forms: tribal wars, wars for empire, wars for independence and wars for revenge. Whether or not these wars brought actual progress is popularly debated. Civilization, in this context, means a relatively high level of cultural and technological development[2] while progress is a gradual betterment in the development of humankind.[3] Just as civilization improves the quality of life of man, civilization has equally improved the “quality” of wars. Specialized arms are being fashioned daily: guns, missiles, submarines, fighter jets and bombs are among the blessings of civilization.

The ideas of war, progress and civilization are somewhat interrelated in the sense that civilization brings about the organization of groups of people into states and nations; while progress involves population growth, industrialization, trade and economic growth and when these nations relate with one another, war or peace results. The peace and treaties that may follow a war can also be said to bring progress to the warring states. Wars are often justified as a means of resolving a conflict (or issues) but these solutions are mostly temporary, distracting nations from other issues that need addressing.

CAUSES OF WAR BETWEEN NATIONS:

Saerchinger outlines the causes of wars after 1500 to be nationalism, industrialism, and imperialism.[4] He explains that the unification of the ideas of nation and state brought about notions of nationalism, national independence, democracy, and ultimately the sense of loyalty to one’s Country or Patriotism. These revolutionary ideas, which are about two hundred years old, were unifying and liberating for some countries; however, there existed some empires that enveloped different nationalities. Austria and Turkey were examples of such empires that ended up broken up by nationalistic forces, leading to war.

The industrial revolution started in England and spread across the world. The invention of the steam engine and subsequent machinery meant less agricultural workers and more industrial workers. The population was growing steadily and food production in the country alone was insufficient for people of Great Britain. The development of roads, railroads, telephone, telegraph, shipping companies establish a good network of communication, resulting in trade and co-operation between other industrialist countries like Germany, France and the United States. However, these countries became competitors, especially with the boom of the steel and power industries. This fueled rivalry that did not take long to develop into hate between leaders, businessmen and even citizens of the different countries. Inadvertently, industrialism had created the tensions required for a political showdown.

Europeans were master imperialists. Edward Said explains imperialism as “the practice, the theory and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan centre ruling a distant territory”[5] Europeans went on...
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