The Causes of War

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The Causes of War

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Institution

Introduction

Peace and security are arguably the most fundamental pillars of any nation. It goes without saying that they safeguard the existence and enjoyment of all human rights, in which case their presence or absence have a bearing on any country’s wellbeing. Needless to say, the world has, since time immemorial, seen a fair amount of conflicts among varied parties including nations, races, religions, and even regions. Of course, there are variations and changes in the weapons used, numbers, the magnitude of the wars, as well as the cost of wars among other factors. For example, in 2008 alone, there were about 9 wars and close to 130 violent conflicts all over the world. Previously non-violent conflicts spiraled into violent confrontations in areas such as Yemen and Kenya. Conflicts were also experienced in other parts of the world such as Congo, with its mineral resources as the center of the conflicts. Closer home, there have been conflicts between the United States and other countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Israel and Palestine. Israel has been angling for war against Iran, which it sees as a threat to its existence and stability. Needless to say, there are variations as to the triggers of wars in different regions and times. In fact, rarely is war caused by one element, rather it emanates from an interplay of different factors and causes. In most cases, the key cause of war is buried in an avalanche of political statements, with the real motives (and culprits) being hidden through oaths of secrecy (Ellsberg, 2013). These oaths are not only in the military, but also the varied institutions of governance involved in the planning and execution of the wars. Issues pertaining to national security are rarely revealed, with whistleblowers being regaled as traitors and unpatriotic individuals (Ellsberg, 2013). Nevertheless, the key cause of war is almost always individuals or groups of individuals that occupy the varied powerful institutions of government and who have differing ideologies. This underlines the fact that wars are usually a manifestation of the conflicting ideologies of the conflicting individuals or groups of individuals.

Causes of war have formed a common subject among numerous scholars across different disciplines. It has also been examined through films and documentaries. In the 2003 American documentary film titled “The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara” Robert McNamara examines the varied aspects pertaining to modern warfare. The film outlines the life of McNamara right from his birth in the course of World War I into his days in the military, the corporate world and in public service where he was the Secretary of Defense for President Kennedy, as well as President Johnson. In essence, he outlines issues surrounding the Vietnam War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, both of which mark some of the most remarkable wars or conflicts in the history of the United States. One of the outstanding remarks that he makes in the film is that he was serving President Johnson’s requests in an effort to assist him in carrying out his duties as president in line with his beliefs pertaining to the people’s interests. While he argues that the president had a reason for putting the country through the Vietnam War, he acknowledges that the president did not reveal it. This underlines the fact that the Vietnam War (and many other wars) was merely the product of ideologies of individuals in the government, who may have been driven by varied motives in pursuing such techniques.

This notion is also outlined in the movie “The Most Dangerous Man in America”, a 2009 documentary that revolves around a former insider of Pentagon named Daniel Ellsberg. Daniel made the decision to challenge the imperial presidency that was not answerable to any institution including the Press, the Congress or even the American people (Hale, 2009). The decision was made in an effort to assist in ending the Vietnam War. Daniel smuggled confidential documents from the Pentagon, detailing how five American presidents had persistently been feeding Americans with lies pertaining to the Vietnam War that had torn America apart and resulted in the deaths of millions of Vietnamese people (Hale, 2009). While the government of the day made varied efforts to stop Daniel from releasing the information, he relentlessly pursued the path of truth revealing how the Vietnam War was fundamentally a product of Imperial Presidency’s secret deeds.

Scholars have also blamed the occurrence of war on conflicting ideologies pertaining to the leaders of the warring countries (Mead, 2001). They use the example of the cold war, which they note as a blend of a religious crusade that favored one ideology over the other and extremely ruthless power politics that struck out for expansion and advantage in Europe and the entire world at large. These ideologies were Communist (espoused by the Soviet Union) and Capitalism (espoused by the United States and Britain, among other European countries). These two ideologies are significantly different, with communism promoting the needs of the state over personal needs and human rights (Sample, 2002). Capitalism, espoused by the United States, revolved around personal freedom, and distinguished by representative government, individual liberty, free institutions, as well as numerous other freedoms that are absent in communism.  The key foundation of conflict between the two ideologies is not merely their differences, but also their militant and expansionist nature (McNamara, 1996). Individuals holding the two beliefs or ideologies held the notion that the alternative ideology posed a threat to their way of life. In addition, their expansionist tendencies were fueled by the belief that the world was better off with their ideology rather than the alternative one (Kremenyuk, 1994). This blend of aggression and ideological fear implied that the USSR and America had their foreign policies being affected by the ideologies. In light of the ideological differences, scholars note that international conflicts such as the cold war, war on Iraq and even Vietnam War is usually a product of the national regimes character, rather than any form of international misunderstanding. They note that the Cold War was merely a manifestation of the aspirations of Stalin and decisions made by the varied US presidents to stop the expansion of communism (Vasquez, 2000). While they acknowledge the differing circumstances, the state that there were variations between the conflicts that cropped up during the reign of different presidents. This is not merely coincidental, rather it is a manifestation of the fact that wars are products of individuals occupying the varied positions in governmental insti.............


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