WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF WAR? DISCUSS
War is an organized and often prolonged conflict that is carried out by states or non-state actors. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, social disruption and economic destruction. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities, and therefore is defined as a form of political violence or intervention. The set of techniques used by a group to carry out war is known as warfare.
Before starting the discussion the causes of war, it is useful to clearly define “war”. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, war is defined as a “state of conflict, generally armed, between two or more entities. It is characterized by intentional violence on the part of large bodies of individuals organized and trained for that purpose (Encyclopedia, 2014). However, in order to understand the causes of wars one has to observe many other factors that play into the development of international conflict. Nations may regard each other with dislike over religious conflict or different values but this is hardly going to cause them to go to war. In International Relations, a disturbance in the balance of power (Brown, 2005, p.99) is often named as the main cause of war. In this essay, the causes of wars shall be discussed on different levels, such as on individual level, on level of the society and most importantly on the international level. This essay also will elaborate on the importance of the balance of power in this context as well as on other theories that seem to be relevant.
To observe the causes of war at an individual level requires observing human nature. According to Brown (2005, p.104), “wars occur because of some aspect of human nature”. Man in his nature seems to be violent and bound to inflict harm on his own race. Greed appears to be an essential characteristic of human nature and therefore seems to determine the actions that are taken in order to gain more power than the rival. This all seems to be rather primitive and may sound like caveman behavior. However, in its essential form this behavior is still and will always be part of human nature. The critique that arises when discussing the nature of human beings as a cause of war is the following: can the nature of the individual really reflect accurately on the nature of the group, in this case society? Waltz (as cited in Brown, 2005, p.104) called this way of thinking “reductionist”. One cannot explain “social phenomena by reference to the nature of individuals” (Brown, 2005, p.104). This individual nature also may be known as efficient causes (Oxford 2010, p.25). In this situation the efficient cause of the war is the desire of the states. For example is the efficient causes of Gulf War between Iraq and Iran was the desire of Saddam Hussein to regain from Iran the Shatt-al-Arab waterway. The efficient causes of the 1990 war between Iraq and Western coalition were Saddam desire to acquired Kuwait territory and resources. The efficient causes of the 2002 war with Iraq were the decision of United State and United Kingdom first to topple Saddam and second to bring democracy to Iraq. If President Bush and Prime Minister Blair had not taken the decision to intervene military in Iraq there would have been no war.
Another aspect that should be looked when considering the causes of wars is that of the nature of societies, economies, and governments. According to Cashman (1993, p.124), certain states possess characteristics that make them more likely to go to war than others. Here too we can find several theories. From a liberal point of view, war is caused by autocratic states, where “one person possesses unlimited power” (Merriam- Webster’s Online Dictionary). According to autocratic views, wars are caused by democracies. Democracies, being elected by the citizens of the state, act for their nonviolent civilians and for that reason are likely to...
Bibliography: 1. Encyclopedia. (2014). Retrieved from War.
2. Brown, M. E., Trevino, L. K., & Harrison, D. A. Ethical leadership: Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 2005. p99, p104 & p10
3. John Baylis, James J.Wirtz, Colin S.Gray. Strategy in the Contemporary World, Oxford University Press Third Edition 2010 p.25.
4. Greg Cashman What Causes War?: An Introduction to Theories of International Conflict New Lexington Press, 1993. p124 & p224
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