War is an extreme and destructive situation that involves large-scale violence, resulting in loss of life and the destruction of infrastructure. In modern times, the number of people who die as a result of war and violent conflict is staggering. Besides the people who die in direct armed violence, many others suffer from exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation, malnutrition and starvation as well as diseases caused by hunger and unsanitary conditions. Even after a war has ended, the effects of war persist for years, creating negative unintended consequences such as displacement, poverty and endemic disease that continue to deprive communities of their resources and impede development.
The causes of war are complex and controversial. There are several theories that attempt to explain why war arises, ranging from purely political motives such as those of Karl Marx (economics), Thucydides (fear, interest and honor) or Hobbes (competition, diffidence and glory) to psychological explanations of human nature. A common theme in these theories is the underlying desire for power.
Often the underlying motive of the launching of war is the need for a specific group to assert its power and dominance over another. This can be achieved through war, but is also sometimes achieved through more subtle means such as economic sanctions or diplomatic maneuvers.
A key element in the cause of war is that a significant disruption of the status quo must take place in order for conflict behavior to occur, namely for war to be declared. This disruption can happen through the actions of a government or by a military action taken by an army.
Other factors that lead to war are related to a state’s willingness to engage in violence and war. Whether this is driven by the need for prestige, honour, survival or a sense of duty it can be difficult to resist this call and engage in war.
Once a country has embarked on a war, it becomes difficult to stop and this often leads to an endless cycle of violence. In addition, there is a profound and devastating impact on the environment. This is evident from the destruction of nature and the ruins left behind by soldiers. The most enduring and damaging impact of war is however the effect on children. The trauma of war often leaves children orphaned and unable to care for themselves. As a consequence they grow up in refugee camps or become street children or prostitutes. The lack of education and lack of socialization as a result of war leads to low self-esteem, poor health and mental problems in the future. This can contribute to the rise of extremism, intolerance and prejudice in society. Children of war are a special concern for humanitarian organizations because they often suffer from chronic and severe malnutrition, mental health problems as well as PTSD. They are therefore highly susceptible to a range of social pathologies such as depression, substance abuse and self-mutilation. In some cases, these children end up in gangs and in prison.