War is a complex social phenomenon, with many different sub-disciplines exploring the causes and consequences of it. The etiology of war is an ongoing debate, rooted in both political philosophy and military history. The definition of war varies, as do the philosophical and legal regimes that attempt to regulate it.
Causes of War
Various explanations for the origin of war have been advanced, including the biological and psychological aspects of man’s nature. Such theories, however, tend to ignore the cultural, social and economic structures that promote and support warfare. Moreover, they may fail to account for the inherited pugnacity that can lead some individuals and groups to pursue a course of action they would otherwise resist.
Other theories of war link the development of competing economies to the emergence of wars in competitive international systems. This idea is especially prevalent in economic historians who study state-building and fiscal capacity.
The emergence of highly centralized power has also been an important factor in the emergence of wars, as states that have such powers are more prone to idiosyncratic and often contradictory policies. They also have a difficult time making credible commitments to their citizens or other stakeholders, as they are often too preoccupied with their own aims and agendas.
As a result, they can be insensitive to the suffering of civilians and fail to take sufficient steps to address the health effects of their actions. This is particularly true in civil wars, where civilian populations have been disproportionately impacted by the violence of combatants.
In addition, a variety of chance events have been linked to the development of war, such as unexpected adverse weather conditions, technological malfunctions and sudden loss of vital resources. These events can cause friction in military-civilian interaction or decision-making, as well as creating the circumstances that trigger a crisis of confidence for one party or the other.
The resulting chaos and confusion makes it difficult to get accurate estimates of the number of people who have been affected by a war. Moreover, it can be difficult to distinguish between noncombatant civilians and combatants, who may disguise themselves as civilians when they are in the line of fire. Similarly, there are limitations to estimating the death toll and other morbidities associated with combat because the effects of war can last for years after a conflict has ended.