Causes There is no simple and single


Causes of war in International

abounds. There is no simple and single reason to why war exists in larger
number and what it leads to. However, analysts and rationalists tend to provide
many reasons for war to be true and necessary. In one or other ground one can
easily give rational behind occurrence of war and its multidimensional
prospect. If we look deeper into the reasons or factors leading to war then we
will have list of such reasons and in this case, war is a result driven out of
such reasons.  But if we look at the
impacts afterwards then we reach a point that, good or bad, the outcome
achieved after war views war being the cause. Hence, war itself gives an
impression of analogy that exists sometimes as a cause of world affairs and
sometimes as an impact of those affairs.

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rationalist’s explanation of war as a conscious choice and decision of leaders
that leads way and that after analyzing the cost and benefit of entering into
the war, adds to the perplexity of cause and effect. If war is a result of
conscious choice then can we attribute the factors leading to war as real
causes of war or they exists only as some catalyst that paves way to the
confrontation. Similarly, if war is results of conscious choice then can one
hold the factors leading to war accountable for afterward consequences? One among
simple explanations to this would be, the essence of the bargaining model as applied
to the causes of war which explains that states experience disputes over the
settlement of some issue, and war is one means by which states can achieve a
better settlement. And again with this notion, war can be explained as both
cause as well as effect of/for ‘better settlement’.

for the purpose of this paper stands as the international war fought between
countries for different reasons and not the intra state conflict within a
state. There exist many reasons for such war to take place ranging from securing
national interest of a state to imbalance in international relations between
states or from security dilemma to the thrive of power by states. In simple
terms, war can viewed as a medium of political gain between states. Carl von
Clausewitz noted centuries ago that war is a means of accomplishing political
goals and not an end in itself, remarking that “the political object is the
goal, war is the means of reaching it, and means can never be considered in
isolation from their purpose.” In other words, war for its own sake has no
value, so one would never pursue it without hoping to accomplish some larger
political aim. Thus larger political goals exist as reasons for war between
countries. And the larger political goals as mentioned above can be anything including
conquering territory, getting hold over resource at large, balance of power, dominance
over other states, advocacy of global good such as human rights, democracy and
fighting terrorism. 

mentioned are the macro dimension and justification to occurrence of war and
war does not occur just like that. As similar to the idea of butterfly effect, small causes can have larger effects
in long run and the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in
which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences
in a later state. For instance, scarcity of water at a rural village of India,
(let’s say rural villages of Kerala)  led
by privatization of water resources by multinational companies (Coca-cola
company) seems to be a small cause today and does not seem to be sufficient for
occurrence of war. However, as the problem grows from rural village to city,
city to nation and nation to globe leading to global scarcity of water then it
is likely to ignite war.


the causes of war

relation for the purpose of this paper imply to the relation between or among
states which are understood primarily in diplomatic, military and strategic
terms and the characteristic focus of which lies on issues of war, peace and
cooperation. Prospect of war grew likely among states with the origin of
concept of sovereign nations (after Westphalia treaty) and in preserving the
national interest of those nations. However, notion of world peace is something
that every nation calls for.

understanding international relation then comes a question, why do states go to
war with one another? In the nineteenth century there was not a great deal of
theorizing on the causes of war in general because most people thought that the
causes of war, at least in the international system of that era, were obvious.
It was taken for granted that states went to war for gain, or in self-defense
because they were attacked by some other state acting for gain. Now, if war is
initiated on the basis of a simple cost-benefit analysis, it follows that if
potential costs rise disproportionately to potential benefits, then there
should be fewer wars – indeed, there should be none at all. Here something
seemed to be wrong with the ‘obvious’ answer and thus there was felt the need
to think more deeply and theorize the causes of war (Ainley and Brown, 1997).

Theory of realism revolves around the idea that
world politics ultimately is always and necessarily a field of conflict among
actors pursuing power.
Traditional realist and political scientist, Hans J Morgenthau defined the
relation among states as- ‘struggle for power’. Neo-realist also believed that
power is the most important factor in international relation. Basically, the theories of realism revolve around four
central propositions:

States are central actors in international politics rather than
individuals or international organizations,

International political system is anarchic i.e. there is
no supranational authority that can enforce rules over the states,

Actors in the international political system are
rational as their actions maximize their own self-interest, and

All states desire power so that they can ensure their own


means, when states are self the supreme actors maximizing their own interest
then there is possibility that states are in constant antagonism. For
maintaining constant power or maximizing it, they build military base or
nuclear weapons. Such action leads to security dilemma and tend to invite war
among nations.

fundamental realist claims that world order is created and maintained by state
power and shifts in order are ultimately driven by shifts in the distribution
of state power. Built on this view, realism offer two relatively distinct
images of order formation in world politics: balance of power and hegemony.  Balance of power refers to equilibrium among countries or
alliances to prevent any one entity from becoming too strong and, thus, gaining
the ability to enforce its will upon the rest. While Hegemonic State theory
implies that peace is stable in world if one state remains in power and maintains
balance of power among nations. Both views reflect that peace lies at tipping
point and a mere shift in power relation out of any cause among states can lead
to war. 

The theories of Realism are contrasted by the
ideals of liberalism. Liberalism denies the
idea of state as primary actor in world politics. Liberals believe that
international institutions play a key role in cooperation among states. Their
roles are crucial in creating an environment where there exists economic and
financial interaction such as free and fair trade among nations, cultural
exchange and emphasizes in idea of diplomacy and democracy whereby democracy
promotes peace among nations and exerts that diplomatic
institutions are helpful in resolving international tensions discouraging
states to enter into war. However liberalism is criticized on the ground
that though the basic idea of liberalism assumes different economic classes,
the capitalists, the skilled and the proletariat to naturally cooperate because
it is for their mutual benefit but this is not always borne out in practice.

Another important theory in understanding international
relation is Marxism. Marxists and Leninist hope
that humanity could be freed from dominance and exploitation and that it is the
key in maintaining peace and stability in world order. Theory of Marxism provides that instability in the international system
is a result of conflict between two classes: the national bourgeoisie and the
cosmopolitan proletariat and that
capitalist mode of production creates division in societies. If we look at
world today, the dependency of resource poor countries (third world countries)
in the rich countries (first world nations) has been widening the gap between global
citizens. Hegemony and imperialism are getting ground further widening the
disparity in the name of multi-national
corporations and international institutions trying to bridge the gap. In such, this
deception in turn can provide a fertile ground for conflict to escalate from
its latent phase resulting change in world order.  

international relations have always been a theoretically conscious social
science. History of international relations theory lies in terms of a series of
great debates and discussions between structure of world order and theoretical
positions such as realism and idealism, or positivism and constructivism. And
these theoretical bases provide us ways of explaining international relation
between states in terms of peace and war. However, it is tough to pin point
which philosophy better suits states and what exactly leads to war or peace.


Freud argued that aggression is simply an instinctive part of human nature
that stems from humans’ genetic programming and psychological makeup. Having
known this nature of human who as a whole represents the world order, it won’t
be a flaw to state that it is not unnatural for countries to enter into war
especially when they are sovereign states protecting and maximizing their own
national interest and security.

devastating wars in initial years of twenty century saw an incomparable loss of
human lives and property. As a lesson learnt, League of Nation was formed after
World War II so as to deal with the human threats in collective form and thus
emerged the concept of collective security. However the concept of a peaceful community of nations was already outlined in
1795 in Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch. Then
followed the alignment of nations for collective security in the form of United
Nations in 1945 with UN Charter containing stronger provisions of security and
collective military arrangement for states and helped continue the operation of
state system in comparably peaceful manner.


UN Charter- Chapter 1: Purpose and Principle

2 (1): the organization is based upon the principle of sovereign equality of
all its members.

2(4): All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the
threat or use of force against the territorial
integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner
inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations. (Charter of the United

It can also be said that these principles are one among the
reasons for less numbers of interstate wars occurring between states after the
World War II.  To the least, lesser
number of wars and absence of tensions connote presence of peace and in long
run, can be a major path for prevalence of perpetual peace. Nevertheless,
world has always been in attempt to make peace and humanity has always been
accustomed itself with the term ‘human’. And hopefully, one day it will be
customary for human to think of the world as imagined by John Lennon.

Imagine by John Lennon (1971)

there’s no countries…It isn’t hard to do…Nothing to kill or die for…And no
religion, too…Imagine all the people…Living life in peace… You…You may say
I’m a dreamer…But I’m not the only one…I hope someday you’ll join us…And the
world will be as one.

















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