War is taken to mean a conflict often carried on by force of arms between nations or parties within a nation. It is carried on by force of arms in a series of battles or campaigns. There have been a great many wars throughout history. Since the earliest recorded history, human beings have been effective and organized at making war. The technology of war has also improved, to the point that today, weapons exist that cannot be used without risking the complete destruction of both sides. This was the basis of the cold war during the second half of the twentieth century. War is costly, both in human and material terms. History might show that war is inevitable and there seem to be a number of possible causes. Increasing population, Religion, differing ideologies and competition for resources, all appear to play a part in the cause of war. Desire for greater freedom and human rights has, in more recent years, been a driving force in civil wars. Finally, there is the fundamental question – do human beings naturally tend to make war? This essay will attempt to examine war and its causes in order to come to a conclusion as to whether it is inevitable. Today, with the United Nations trying to settle disputes peacefully and actively trying to protect human rights, war is not inevitable. However, if war is inevitable, a nation should work to be good at it. As the cold war has shown, to be very good at war may actually work to avoid major conflict and its associated costs. Being good at war means being strong enough so that nations can defend their territory and making it less likely they will be threatened. In the 21st century, being good at war means possessing the latest technology for conducting war.
Keegan (1993, p. 1) states that warfare is almost as old as man himself. Since the earliest recorded history, there have been wars. Conflict has always been a part of humanity. The reasons for every war will be different but overall, in ancient times, as farming practices and technology improved, human population increased conflict was often over power and resources. The technology to make war also developed. Total human population in the world increased from 50 million in the year 5000BC to 300 million in the year 0AD (United Nations report 1999)
Neiberg (2001, pp. 10-3) tells us that man has been very good at organizing wars during this classical period (to 500AD). Ancient Romans, Greeks, Chinese and Indians all engaged in numerous wars. Also Neilberg (2001, p 14) tells us that ancient armies had high levels of structure, discipline, training and organization. Greek armies, by organizing themselves into phalanxes, could hold off and defeat enemies. The methodologies and technologies of war improved during this ancient period.
Following the classical period, up until the emergence of gunpowder weapons (500AD to 1450AD), the technology of war improved slowly with a shift to cavalry following the invention and widespread use of the stirrups (Neisberg 2001, p. 21). Religion came to be a greater driving force for conflict as illustrated by the expansion of Islam and the crusades from the Christians to stop it. Population expansion resulted in empires growing and clashing with their neighbours. During the period 0AD to 1500AD, world population increased from 300m to 500 million (United Nations report 1999).
From around 1450 gunpowder weapons reached levels of development where the nature of war was changed. Canon was able to break down fortifications. Discipline and training evolved to include tactical formations to suit the single shot gunpowder weapons of the day. Ranks of trained and disciplined soldiers could maintain high rates of fire against an enemy (Neilberg 2001, pp. 36-7). A significant factor in the introduction of gunpowder weapons was that the new weapons we much more costly in human terms (Neilberg 2001, p 43). World population from 1450 to 1800 increased from 500 million to 1 billion (United Nations report...
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