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Can War Be Abolished? Theories and Causes of War

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CAN WAR BE ABOLISHED

Introduction

 According to the Clausewitz War is a mere continuation of the policy. So the question arises can the policy be abolished? Or is war inevitable? and we may find no simple answer to these questions. War is defined as a violent action in which one side i.e. State ‘A’ endeavours to impose its will on the other side i.e. State ‘B’ through the use of force. In modern times non state actors and terrorists are also seen inviting the wrath of a state or certain states coalition. There is no single agreed upon definition of war and no two wars are ever quite similar in opposing forces, objectives and gains. Before we dwell any further in an attempt to answer the aforesaid question it is deemed pertinent to analyse the theory of war and its root causes. Only then we shall be able to seek the true answer to our question whether the war can be abolished and if so under what conditions and circumstances.

Theories of War

War is a complex societal phenomena rather than unchangeable human nature. History of war is as old as the recorded history of mankind on this planet, but according to war analysts this does not make it law of nature. According to Clausewitz concept of Trinity, military component of nation is a non-rational actor and subjected to political leadership in whose domain lies the rational decision making process. After the introduction of Nuclear Weapons in WW II concept of warfare has been drastically altered. The enormous destructive power of this type of weapon, which can wipe out the human race from this planet, has set such a strong deterrence that many wars have been averted particularly among the nuclear weapon states. In Bernard Brodie’s words “from now on the chief purpose of army is not to fight wars but to avert them”. There are typically two broad theories categorised by the analysts to describe the phenomenon of war.

a. Normative Theory. It seeks to find out what the things ought to be. The ethics and morals and what is right and what is wrong. Is war justified and if so under what conditions wars can be fought.

b. Empirical Theory. This theory deals with the historical evidence of the evolution of warfare. Circumstances leading to the on set of war, various techniques employed during the conduct of war and the reasons for the victory or defeat.

Reasons for War

There are number of different reasons for which wars are fought amongst the states. Kenneth N Waltz describes that in the domain of international relations the identification of level of analysis i.e. “individual, state or international system” is important. Apropos in this discourse state level shall be focused as the primary level of analysis to identify the reasons of war. Some of them are briefly described in succeeding paragraphs.

a. Territorial/Border Disputes. Most wars are fought between the two states due to territorial or border disputes. Soon after the rapid decolonization process which began in first half of 20th century, the nations were found contended with or settling down their geographical borders with their neighbours. Empirical evidence shows where this element is found missing the states tend to go to war to settle their disputes, which they are unable to resolve through other means particularly the negotiations.

b. Hegemonic Ambition.The great powers in pursuit of dominance on ground and at seas waged wars through out 19th and 20th century. However, in current times this aspect is diminishing due to economic concerns and effects of global trade and commerce.

c. Internal Balance. Some times the wars are fought due to internal political disturbance where elite or ruling party in order to preserve its power or hold over the state initiates violent use of force. This type of war is often characterised by onslaught of psychological warfare directed at enemy and home front. This type is very common in the modern times.

d. Leadership Aspects.The democratic form of governing a state is gaining popularity and autocracy is giving away. The wars fought in the past were particularly characterized by the desires and lust of power by the kings and princes. Many wars were fought due to personal orientation of the tyrannical leadership. However, democracies have been found of avoiding wars primarily due to economic concerns and well being of their people.

e. Weak State vs Strong State.Since the distribution of natural resources amongst various nation-states is not equal hence some times wars are fought by strong states against weaker states to gain access to their resources. Another dimension is a weak state waging war against a parity or strong state in the realm to settle the old scores. Most of these wars have been characterized by the precondition of ‘opportunity rather than necessity’ arising out of an internal disturbance/weak situation in other country.

How War Can be Abolished

Throughout centuries mankind has passed through a process of evolution so is the history of warfare. Through the course of history technology has also played its part in the evolution of warfare. After years of quest man was able to invent a weapon considered enough to destroy all the inventions; Nuclear weapons have since then altered the strategy of war particularly among nuclear states or their respective alliances. Deterrence concept had never been so well established as particularly during the cold war period, which averted successfully any war between USSR and USA and/or other NATO countries in Europe. This concept of deterrence has also worked well in establishing strategic stability in South Asia and has averted major wars between India vs Pakistan or India vs China; whose source of animosity particularly lies in border disputes and resolution of Kashmir issue. Apart from nuclear deterrence there could be other multifaceted aspects which can help to abolish war. Some of these aspects are briefly discussed in succeeding paragraphs.

a. Political System.People are generally peace loving and require welfare and freedom to go about their daily life as per their desires and socio-religious practices. A democratic form of government, which is by the people, of the people, and for the people greatly manifests the true aspirations of the masses. Apropos in last century the phenomena of decolonization and rise of democratic form of governments gained popularity. Empirical evidence exists that democracies don’t like to fight wars and tend to settle inter state disputes through talks. The political and diplomatic have thus proved effective in averting the impending wars.

b. Economic Interdependence.A major effect that globalization has ensued is economic interdependence. Natural and other resources are not equally spread thought the world. The general global peace after World War II has seen increased economic interdependence amongst the states. Thus mutual dependency is also being viewed as a reason for avoiding war amongst states. Europe has seen war for hundreds of years but European Union is a success story. The EU members states are required to fulfill two preconditions to become eligible, one to have democratic form of government and second to have no border disputes with their neighbouring states.

c. Economic Strength.Countries with strong economic power are able to exert their influence on other economically weak states to do their will, without going to war with that state. Countries like USA, China, Japan, Germany and Switzerland exercise their influence in respective areas of interest due their strong economies.

d. Strong Defence.Strong defence of a nation is manifested though it’s military power. It guarantees its sovereignty and keeps impending threats at bay and enemies under check.

e. Strong Alliance.Alliance of a group of states particularly with a super power has become a source of strength. It has minimized the chances of wars of opportunity against weaker states that have joined strong alliances e.g. NATO.

f. Role of MNC’s.Due to financial implications the Multinational Corporations (MNC’s) which are spread throughout the world irrespective of political boundaries exert their influence on states as war is detrimental to their business interests.

Conclusion

Abolishing the war is both desirable and possible despite human limitations. The cumulative effect of political, military and economic strength coupled with higher literacy rate, acquisition of advanced technologies and employment opportunities for the youth can act as strength of national power. Socio cultural affinity and religious freedom of the masses living in an allegiance within the political boundaries and respecting the same for those living across the borders makes a state stable and less prone to war. Apropos it can be concluded that principles of social justice and mutual coexistence are the hallmarks for attaining global peace.

References:

  1. Kenneth waltz
  2. The Causes of War

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