Philosophers have often debated the origins of war, and the nature of its moral dimensions. A common view holds that war is a result of a clash of arms, but there are other possibilities. A state of mutual tension or threat of violence can also qualify as war, as can the authorized declaration of a sovereign power. Philosophers have also argued about the differences between war and riots and rebellions, and about personal violence and collective violence.
The origins of today’s rules of war can be traced back to ancient civilizations and religions. In the 19th century, the founder of the Red Cross, Henri Dunant, codified these customs into international humanitarian law and helped create the first Geneva Convention. This treaty required armies to take care of wounded and injured soldiers on the battlefield. Twelve European nations ratified the treaty.
In addition to soldiers, civilian populations are at risk from war. They often suffer more casualties than professional soldiers. According to UN Women, as much as 90 percent of casualties in contemporary conflicts are civilians. The majority of these are women and children. The psychological impact of war is profound, and the consequences can be felt for generations. In addition, the destruction of physical and economic infrastructure causes massive displacement, which impoverishes communities and undermines normal human relations.
There are two major types of theories on the origin of war. Some claim that war is a natural product of man’s inherited biology, while others claim that it is the result of culture. Proponents of cultural determinism argue that the causes of war are rooted in cultural institutions and the nature of human behavior. Both theories have some controversial aspects. For example, Kant argues that the soft morality of trade can annihilate bellicose cultural tendencies, while others say that the only way to bring peace is to use external penalties.
There are many different types of war. Civil wars, for instance, are fought between two nations. Asymmetric wars, on the other hand, are fought between two drastically different populations. In these cases, the tactics used are often guerrilla tactics to overcome the gap between the two forces. In civil wars, the armed forces of a nation may be the same. However, in asymmetric wars, the armed forces of different countries may differ greatly.
In peacetime, armed forces in the United States comprise 1.4 million people. The Army makes up almost half of this number. Other major branches include the Navy and the Air Force. These three branches are responsible for land and sea fighting. 1.3 million Americans also serve in the Reserve and National Guard branches of the armed forces. These branches can be activated during wartime if necessary.
War crimes are crimes against humanity committed during war. The first recorded examples date to the ancient Greek and Roman times. In these days, the punishment for war crimes was determined by the winner of a war. Political leaders and commanders escaping punishment for war crimes were often summarily executed. During the Second World War, however, this has changed.