War, like any other form of conflict, is a social process. It is not a natural or inevitable process but it can be made to occur by a nation’s ability and desire to project power through armed force, diplomacy and economic pressure.
The most important aspect of the Art of War is to secure a clear and decisive military objective, the destruction of the enemy’s ability and will to fight. The best way to achieve this is through offensive action that seizes and retains the initiative, while maintaining freedom of action.
Achieving a common military goal requires coordinating and utilizing all the various capabilities that are required for military operations, such as intelligence, command and control, and tactical, strategic and operational planning. This is not an easy task as each side has different needs and capabilities.
Defeating an opposing military force usually requires a long-term effort. This is the case even for the most successful of armed conflicts.
There are a number of reasons why this is the case. For example, combatants may be motivated by a range of factors such as pride, duty, self-sacrifice, a sense of purpose and identity or even fear.
In some cases, these motives are based on a moral or religious commitment to right and justice. They also reflect a sense of obligation or responsibility to one’s fellow citizens and their national interest.
This often leads to a state’s pursuit of political goals such as national honour, independence or the protection of its people. Alternatively, it may be an attempt to prevent another state from violating its laws or its rights.
If a state fails to achieve its objectives through the use of all possible means, it will most likely resort to armed force. It is this fact that distinguishes War from other forms of conflict, which may result in the use of less force than required to achieve the same objectives.
The principle of proportionality, therefore, is essential for evaluating the ethics of war in a realistic context. It involves a comparison between the good that can be achieved by waging war and the harm that can be caused to the victimized.
It must take into account the particular nature of warfare, the risks involved and the costs that it will have to bear (see Walzer 1979; Zohar 1993). It must also consider the specific aims of fighting and the impact on those who are not fighting.
It must also take into consideration the psychological and emotional aspects of fighting, including its influence on individual motivations and the effect on the human soul. It must also be concerned with the broader implications of war, such as its social and economic effects and the effect on societies that have been affected by the war.