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Causes of War

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Syed Saniat Amin
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A war

is often fought by a nation or coalition of nations against an adversary nation with the intention of using force to accomplish a certain purpose. Civil conflicts between nations or between parties inside a nation can sometimes be considered forms of internal warfare. For thousands of years, conflicts have been a part of human history, and as industrialization and technology have grown, so too have their devastating powers.

Rarely is there an obvious reason for conflict and, eventually, war. There are often many different reasons why conflicts arise, and these reasons can often be deeply entwined. Many ideas explaining why conflicts occur have been proposed throughout the years, and now we will discuss some of the main reasons.

The primary motivation for conflicts is economic gain. The ambition of one nation to seize control of the riches of another nation frequently sparks wars. Even when the declared goal of wars is portrayed to the public as something more noble, most conflicts nearly always include an economic motivation, whether or not there are other reasons for them. Before the invention of the industrial revolution, a fighting nation could have wanted to acquire animals like horses and cattle or valuable commodities like gold and silver. The resources sought for from battle nowadays include items like minerals, oil, or raw materials for manufacture. Some scholars predict that as the world’s population grows and basic resources become more limited, battles over necessities like food and water will rise in frequency. Historical instances of conflicts waged for financial advantage include the 1766–1849 Anglo–Indian Wars. A sequence of conflicts between the British East India Company and many Indian kingdoms was known as the Anglo-Indian Wars. British colonial control was established in India as a result of these battles, granting Britain unrestricted access to the rare and exotic resources that are indigenous to the Indian continent.

Second, conflict arises out of the desire to conquer territory. A nation may determine that it requires additional land for uses other than agriculture. Additionally, territory can be utilized as “buffer zones” between two adversaries; proxy conflicts are often linked to buffer zones. These are battles fought in a third nation between opposing armies in an indirect manner. Every power backs the side that most aligns with its economic, military, and logistical interests. During the Cold War, proxy battles of interest were particularly prevalent. The Mexican-American War, which lasted from 1846 to 1848, is a historical illustration of a conflict waged for territorial expansion. Mexico continued to claim the territory as its own after Texas was annexed, which sparked the start of this conflict. Texas was retained by the US and made a state after it was defeated by Mexico. Another instance is the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885–1886, in which a river that served as the boundary between the two nations was moved, leading to fighting between Serbia and Bulgaria over a minor border town. And, of course, the Arab-Israeli War, sometimes known as the “Six-Day War,” in which Jordan lost control of the West Bank’s lands, including East Jerusalem.

Thirdly, the primary cause of disputes and wars is also religion. Religious disputes can have extremely deep causes. They have the ability to go dormant for decades before emerging again. While religious wars can be caused by various religions fighting against each other, for example in different areas within the same religion, they can also be linked to other reasons of conflict, such as nationalism or retaliation for a perceived historical defeat in the past. War might result from pitting Sunnis and Shiites or Protestants and Catholics against one another. A prime example of religious warfare throughout history is the Crusades, which took place between 1095 and 1291 with the intention of driving out Islam and advancing Christianity. Another example is the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), which started when a group of northern Protestants united to oppose Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand 11’s attempt to force Roman Catholicism on the people living under his hegemony. The Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990) was primarily caused by conflicts between the Sunni Muslim, Shiite Muslim, and Christian populations in Lebanon. Similarly, the Yugoslav Wars (1991–1995) pitted the Muslim and Orthodox Catholic populations of the former Yugoslavia against each other. Lastly, the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983–2005) was brought on by the government, which was dominated by Muslims, deciding to impose Sharia law on non-Muslim southerners.

Nationalism is the fourth factor that leads to conflict. In this sense, nationalism basically refers to the attempt to establish your country’s superiority over another by methods of coercive subjugation. This frequently manifests as encroachment. According to political theory, nationalism or spirit is nearly always a part in wars, even if there may be other factors as well. The meridian, which is based on the notion that subjugating other nations is great and bestows glory and esteem upon the conqueror, is linked to nationalism. Nationalism and racism are related, as demonstrated by Hitler’s Germany. Part of the reason Adolf Halter started the war with Russia was because the Russians were viewed as slaves or as a lower race by the Nazis. Warfare motivated by nationalism has historically included the Chichimeca War (1550–1590) and World War I (1914–1918).

Revenge, which is frequently a part in the conduct of war, is the fifth cause of war. It is intended to punish in order to make apologies or merely to strike back for a perceived affront. Nationalism and revenge are associated because the people of the nation that has been mistreated are driven to fight back with pride and vigor; however, this may result in an unending series of retaliatory wars that are very hard to put an end to. Retaliation has historically played a role in several European conflicts, including the War on Terror and World War II, which lasted from 1939 to 1945.

Civil war is the sixth reason for conflict. These usually occur when there is a strong internal dispute inside a nation; the dispute may be over who should govern, how the nation should be administered, or the rights of its citizens. These internal divisions frequently widen and spark violent clashes between two or more opposing factions. Separatist organizations seeking to create their own independent nation or states seeking to break away from a bigger union, as in the case of the American Civil War, can also ignite civil wars. The American Civil War (1861–1861), the Russian Civil War (1917–1923), the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), and the Korean War (1950–1953) are just a few of the civil conflicts that have occurred throughout world history.

Revolutionary warfare is the sixth reason for conflict. These take place when a sizable portion of the populace rebels against the person or party in power because they are unhappy with their direction. A revolution may start for several causes, such as perceived injustices by the ruling class or economic hardship among some segments of the populace. Unpopular conflicts with other nations are one example of a factor that can also play a role. Revolutionary wars can quickly turn into civil wars. The American Revolution (1775–1783), the French Revolution (1789–1799), the Portuguese Restoration War (1640–1668), and the Haitian Revolution (1791–18040) are historical instances of revolutionary conflicts.

Defensive warfare is the final reason for conflict. Countries frequently assert that they are fighting an aggressor or prospective aggressor merely defensively and that their war is a “just” conflict in today’s world, when military aggressiveness is questioned. When these defensive battles are started early, they can be more divisive because the basic justification is that “we attack them before they inevitably attack us.” A defensive war in history is the Cold War, which lasted from 1947 to 1991.


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