While most of us understand the concept of war by definition, not everyone understands why and how it happens. Wars are typically fought between countries and people who are seeking political, ideological, or strategic ends. Smaller armed conflicts are often referred to as “riots”, “rebellions,” and “coups.” Sometimes, a friendly government will send its forces to another country to maintain order, protect citizens, or prevent an uprising. In these cases, the actions of a police force are called humanitarian interventions.
As such, the art of war encompasses much more than armed conflict. It acknowledges the strength of a nation’s forces and its capacity to project its power. It is the coherence of means used to achieve a specific objective, with the goal of changing a “natural state.” Whenever all other means fail, war results. So what is war? In its most basic form, war is the application of force when the means of coercion fail.
Philosophers disagree on the role of morality in war. Some claim that war is essentially political, and that the nature of war discards it. Others, such as Augustine, remind warriors of moral relations and ends. When going to war, people undergo rituals that symbolize the passage from a civil society to a more amoral one. Some existentialists have written about war phenomenology, or the study of how it affects people.
Philosophers will often discuss four general questions that are central to the study of war. These include the nature of human nature and the moral justification of warfare. One of the most fundamental questions is how to define war itself. It is generally agreed that a war is a conflict between two or more entities, but other definitions include wars between schools of thought. If we’re going to talk about war as a moral issue, we must define what it is and how it should be conducted.
Despite the widespread use of military force, the effects of war on civilian populations are also profound. Studies have shown that conflict-induced deaths among civilian populations are significantly higher than the casualties caused by professional soldiers. According to the UN Women, nearly 90 percent of casualties in contemporary conflicts are civilians. Women and children are the majority of victims. Rape is another common war weapon, and it is used to intimidate and humiliate communities. It also destroys the lives of women and children.
Philosophers often focus on one aspect of man’s nature when explaining the causes of war. By focusing on one particular aspect of man’s nature, we simplify the explanation and overlook the competing theories. For instance, when emphasizing man’s political and ethical characteristics, we fail to consider the deep cultural structures and inherited pugnacity that go hand-in-hand with the idea of freedom. Furthermore, the focus on reason over emotion or will does not fully account for the complex interconnections between man and war.
The combined armed forces of the world consist of 21.3 million personnel. Of that number, the largest is China, while the other three are Russia, France, and India. A total of 14 of the 20 largest militaries in the world are in developing countries. The United States and other nations frequently blame their enemies for attacks made with American-made weapons. However, at the beginning of 2003, there were 30 ongoing wars, including conflicts in Afghanistan, Algeria, and the Congo.