War is an organized, armed, and, often, a prolonged conflict that is carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities, and therefore is defined as a form of political violence. The set of techniques used by a group to carry out war is known as warfare. An absence of war (and other violence) is usually called peace.
In 2003, Nobel Laureate Richard E. Smalley identified war as the sixth (of ten) biggest problem facing the society of mankind for the next fifty years. In the 1832 treatise On War, Prussian military general and theoretician Carl von Clausewitz defined war as follows: "War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will."
While some scholars see warfare as an inescapable and integral aspect of human culture, others argue that it is only inevitable under certain socio-cultural or ecological circumstances. Some scholars argue that the practice of war is not linked to any single type of political organization or society. Rather, as discussed by John Keegan in his History of Warfare, war is a universal phenomenon whose form and scope is defined by the society that wages it. Another argument suggests that since there are human societies in which warfare does not exist, humans may not be naturally disposed for warfare, which emerges under particular circumstances. The ever changing technologies and potentials of war extend along a historical continuum. At the one end lies the endemic warfare of the Paleolithic with its stones and clubs, and the naturally limited loss of life associated with the use of such weapons. Found at the other end of this continuum is nuclear warfare, along with the recently developed possible outcome of its use, namely the potential risk of the complete extinction of the human species.
Read more about War: Etymology, History of Warfare, Nine Largest Wars (by Death Toll), Types of Warfare, Effects of War, Factors Ending A War, List of Ongoing Wars, Efforts To Stop Wars, Theories For Motivation, War Ethics
Famous quotes containing the word war:
“Those who dare to interpret Gods will must never claim Him as an asset for one nation or group rather than another. War springs from the love and loyalty which should be offered to God being applied to some God substitute, one of the most dangerous being nationalism.”
—Robert Runcie (b. 1921)
“One must know that war is common, justice is strife, and everything happens according to strife and necessity.”
—Heraclitus (c. 535475 B.C.)
“My topic for Army reunions ... this summer: How to prepare for war in time of peace. Not by fortifications, by navies, or by standing armies. But by policies which will add to the happiness and the comfort of all our people and which will tend to the distribution of intelligence [and] wealth equally among all. Our strength is a contented and intelligent community.”
—Rutherford Birchard Hayes (18221893)