In this paper we are going to study the notion of war, its various definitions, approaches to its nature and major reasons, moral and other aspects of human life related to wars.
First of all we should define the notion of war ”“ “War, defined as armed conflict between nations or between opposing factions within a nation, can have grave consequences for the environment, public health, and natural resources”¯ (Montagu, 12). Wars are present in the nowadays’ world, but they cannot be considered to be a new phenomenon. To the historical development of wars there are various approaches. Some researchers state, that wars exist as long as human beings are on this planet. Others however, argue, that there are no real clear evidences of the wars in the prehistoric past of human beings, which can be also confirmed by the fact, that even at the moment there are peaceful, non-military societies (Heinsohn, 36). According to historical documentation, around 5000 years ago most of the globe was busy with military activities. This is evident, that development of gunpowder and rapid development of other technological processes contributed greatly to appearance of modern and updated warfare.
According to the Human Security Report 2005 there was a significant decline in the number of armed conflicts after the Cold War of the 1990s. But at the moment we cannot be so sure, that this decline continues, on the contrary there are enough menaces of the war in the world. We have only to hope, that the world financial crisis won’t lead to any additional armed conflicts or worsen the situation with the existing ones.
Speaking about general motivations for war, it is necessary to mention, that there are two groups of the participants – those, who give the order to start the war and those, who take directly part in it, because motivations for them might be absolutely different. For example if to take some of Roman wars, the leaders were concerned about increasing the territories and power, whereas usual soldiers were trying not to die and to earn some money.
There were several theories developed, in order to explain the major reasons of war. We are going to consider only several radically different ones here. The so-called tradeoff theories state, that wars happen as soon as some people are able to perceive the benefits that can be received greater, than the cost (Montagu, 33). Such situation may be due to various reasons:
“To protect national pride by preventing the loss of territory
To protect livelihood by preventing the loss of resources or by declaring independence, or
To inflict punishment on the “wrong”¯ doer, especially when one country is perceived as stronger than the other and can effectively deal out the punishment”¯ (Heinsohn, 111).
Psychologists developed their approaches to war reasons in their behavioral theory. Durban and Bowlby for example, state, that people were initially violent. During the normal situation in the society, there is no way out for this violence and thus war is needed at some point. “This mixes with other notions such as displacement, where a person transfers their grievances into bias and hatred against other ethnic groups, racial groups, religions, nations or ideologies”¯ (Heinsohn, 113). Even taking into consideration the possibility of these arguments, this is still not clear, why there are cultures, which exist without wars. Considering war inclination as innate for the human nature is very close to determinism philosophy, which states, that wars cannot be avoided, as they are predetermined and presupposed. Here, however, it seems important, to take into consideration first of all the temperament of the person, who is the head of a state. Napoleon, Hitler or Stalin could be rather bright examples in this case.
Although all wars are unique, there are certain parameters of wars conduct, which could be unified. War is basically a military confrontation, involving military technologies and equipment, with implementation of military tactics and strategies.
Finally, apart of all theoretical approaches and practical examples, this is necessary to consider the moral issues related to wars. The attitude to wars changed and developed within the history; as for example in ancient times wars were considered to be noble and inevitable.
Nowadays, wars are seen from absolutely different perspective, most people became aware of all the problems and difficulties, which can be brought by this ruining event. Certainly the willingness to defend the native country might be seen as noble, but we should be clear, if there is such a crucial necessity in starting a war in general, maybe pacifists are right, and there really should be no war fought at all? There have always been stronger and weaker nations in the world, as well as there have been always problems and misunderstandings between governors of the countries. This is absolutely normal due to a great number of economical, cultural and other differences. But in reality all the disputes can be solved through negotiations and mutual compromises, especially during modern era of highly developed technologies.
Those, who initiate wars, should always be aware of the fact, that no matter what is on one side of scale, on the other ”“ is always death and destruction.