Can wars be eradicated?

By Afnan Wasif

War is an organized violence that entails two or more belligerents to achieve certain objectives that may be of political nature. War history can be traced from the very beginning of the world ─ during the era of Adam and Eve.

As per the realist’s view, wars can never be abolished. Because states operate in an international arena that is characterized by anarchy. There exists a struggle for survival that may be termed competition among states. And this competition eventually leads to war.

Uncertainty and unpredictability are one of the features of war. No one knows the exact, precise, and only cause of war as it is an uncertain and dynamic phenomenon. There are some factors that contribute towards the happening of the war which are given below:

Territorial Disputes:

Wars erupt among two or more parties due to their respective territorial disputes. According to Carl Von Clausewitz, war is an act to compel our opponent to fulfill our will by use of force. States undergo war to annex a certain territory that may be disputed. The annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation in 2014 involves the use of force and endorses the above-said argument. Three wars have been fought between Pakistan and India over the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Another possible cause of war is the lust for land. In ancient times, large territories were considered a power symbol. The Anglo-Indian wars were fought between the British East India Company and different states of India including the Mughal Empire, Nawabs of Bengal, and the Kingdom of Mysore, etc. The Napoleonic wars may fall under this category. Acquisition of large territories to enjoy prestige and exert influence on other nations serves as a cause of war. However, in contemporary times the latter cause is obsolete because it becomes difficult to govern large territories.

Internal Politics:

The internal politics of a state plays an important role to wage war against other states. In order to gain leverage in general elections ruling parties indulge the state in the war. In the 2014 elections of Lok Sabha in India, Modi led BJP won 282 seats. But after Balakot’s adventure in February 2019, BJP won 303 seats ─ an increase of 21 seats ─ in the Lok Sabha election held in May 2019. Modi’s regime utilized public sentiments through an act of war to gather support in upcoming general elections. Civil wars may fall under this category. For example, Nigerian, Syrian, American, and English civil wars were fought due to internal politics.

Hegemonic Ambitions:

The application of extraordinary political, military, ideological, economic, etc. influence by one nation over other nations is called the hegemonic design of the nation. To exercise such influence, states opt for wars. It could be evident throughout the cold war period starting from the late 1940s to 1991. Korean, Vietnam, and Afghanistan episodes during the Cold War were solely aimed to become a world hegemon ─ the United States of America. India is also motivated by this factor to wage war against its neighbors. The Gulf War (1990-1991) was fought to contain the hegemonic ambitions of Iraq in the Gulf region. The Peloponnesian War (431 to 404 BCE) was fought between Athens and Sparta to dominate the Greek world.

Leadership Aspect:

Personal aspirations may serve as a cause of war. The Napoleonic Wars were a series of conflicts fought by France and various European powers from 1803 to 1815. The wars were largely driven by Napoleon Bonaparte’s ambition to expand the French Empire and establish himself as the dominant leader in Europe. Racist ideology driven by Adolf Hitler was a major cause of the outbreak of World War 2.

He opined that Germans belonged to a superior race ─ Master Race (Aryan Race) ─ and they are bound to rule. The Nazis attempted to eliminate all of Europe’s Jews, ultimately killing six million in the Holocaust. Because Jews were considered that they belonged to an inferior race.  Trojan Wars were fought in Bronze Age just because of Trojan Prince; Paris fell in love with Helen, the wife of the Greek king Menelaus. Such wars involve no rationality or overarching national objective rather these are leader ─ king, military commander ─ centric wars.

Lust for Resources:

In this world, natural resources are scarce. States contend with other states to acquire more and more natural resources. This factor overlaps with the first factor as territory is also a natural resource. One of the major causes of the First and Second Congo Wars was the desire to control resources. The Congo is rich in natural resources, including diamonds, copper, cobalt, and gold.

Neighboring countries, such as Rwanda and Uganda, wanted to control these resources, which contributed to their support for various rebel groups in the conflict. The Gulf War (1990-1991) was probably caused by lust for its oil resources. Future wars may be waged because of the scarcity of resources.

Human by nature is nasty and greedy according to Realism. He/she has a lust for power that mainly contributes to the occurrence of war. The accurate reason for war is unknown or dynamic. If not, maybe someone would come up with a solid reason and get a Nobel Prize and eventually every state would end it and operate peacefully, but it hasn’t happened to date. So, wars can never be abolished and even known reasons for wars cannot be eradicated completely.

The author is a student of Strategic Studies at National Defence University, Islamabad. He tweets at @afnanwasif


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