Causes of

Wars have been fought since the beginning of history for a number of reasons: territory, wealth, security, power, religious beliefs, and as a defense against or retaliation for deprivation, injustice, and suffering. Historically, maintaining and defending territorial boundaries have been the principal causes of war, but religious wars have also been common. Unfortunately, the participants in wars fought in the name of religion were not always true to their religious principles. Thus, the Christian Crusaders of the Middle Ages slaughtered not only armed men but also hundreds of women and children as

Revolutionary War War of 1812 Mexican War Civil War-Union Civil War-Confederacy Spanish-American War World War World War II Korean War Vietnam War Persian Gulf War

400 300 200 100 0 50 100 150 200 250

Figure 12-4 Military deaths and costs in wars fought by the United States. (Based on data from World Book Encyclopedia [Vol. 21], 1990, p. 25.)

400 300 200 100 0 50 100 150 200 250

Figure 12-4 Military deaths and costs in wars fought by the United States. (Based on data from World Book Encyclopedia [Vol. 21], 1990, p. 25.)

they entered Jerusalem and other Moslem fortifications. Although most wars since the seventeenth century have been fought for materialistic' rather than religious reasons, religious differences continue to be a source of armed conflict in certain parts of the world.

According to Sigmund Freud (1933), people possess an inborn "death instinct" (Thanatos) than conflicts with their life instinct (Eros). Freud maintained that Thanatos always wins in the end, but that it can be diverted into sports and creative activities. Rather than viewing the aggression expressed in warfare as caused solely by an inborn instinct or by simple frustration, most contemporary psychologists see it as the result of a complex interaction between biology and the physical and social environment. Human beings are equipped with the neural circuitry for aggressive, warlike behavior, but its expression depends on the presence of an appropriate instigating stimulus and the collective perception of how the interpersonal environment will react to an aggressive attack. Still, this formulation by itself does not adequately explain why nations decide to wage war.

Because it causes untold human suffering and seldom solves the problems that precipitated it, warfare would seem to be a highly irrational way of dealing with international arguments. However, certain military strategists have viewed war as a rational instrument of foreign policy. According to Berkowitz (1990), the decision made by a nation's leaders to declare war is almost always the result of a reasoning process, though not necessarily reasoning of a high order. The decision makers may misperceive or misinterpret statements made by political leaders on the opposing side and choose to ignore facts and events that might cause them to make a different decision (Tetlock, 1988). In addition, the leaders, and the public at large, may lack empathy with the opposing side and even characterize them as subhuman or diabolical and themselves as militarily and morally superior to their opponents (White, 1984).

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