• The global system: Because the global system is anarchic, states must engage in war to protect themselves.
  • Economics and resources: Disputes over resources often lead to war.

Just-War Theory

Debate has raged as long as wars have been fought as to whether a war can be morally just. Some prominent thinkers have proposed a just-war theory, which argues that wars should be fought for noble and worthwhile reasons. Just-war theorists also try to establish ethical rules for warfare. Of course, whether any war is justified is almost always a matter of debate. But most just-war theorists agree on some basic ideas:

  • War must be the last option. All peaceful means to resolve the conflict must be exhausted before war breaks out.
  • The cause of the war must be just (such as overturning aggression and righting a great wrong).
  • The war must be winnable.
  • The war’s purpose must justify the cost in money and lives.
  • The military must make every effort to prevent or limit civilian casualties.

Types of War

Although all wars are violent, not all wars are the same. In fact, there are many different types of wars, which can be classified according to which people actually fight, the intensity of the conflict, and the extent of combatants’ use of violence, among other factors.

Scholars generally describe five types of war:

  1. Total war
  2. Limited war
  3. Guerrilla war
  4. Civil war
  5. Proxy war

Total War

A total war is a war in which combatants use every resource available to destroy the social fabric of the enemy. Total wars are highly destructive and are characterized by mass civilian casualties because winning a total war often requires combatants to break the people’s will to continue fighting. World Wars I and II were total wars, marked by the complete destruction of the civilian economy and society in many countries, including France, Germany, the Soviet Union, Italy, Great Britain, and Japan.

Popular pages: International Politics