What Drives People to War?

Yasir Ali Hamza

This is the question which has baffled us for years. From prehistoric era to modern world, people have never stopped attacking one another.  Plundering, mass murder & total annihilation of one another have been trends associated with Homo sapiens for thousands of years. While the methods of war have changed over the years, the stimuli behind waging war have also grown to numerous varieties.  Only going through each era may expose the core reason behind the mass atrocities.

In the prehistory time, two basic needs, food and shelter, which are now termed as economical & territorial gain, stimulated the tribes to attack one another.

Once people started settling and started cultivation, civilizations began to form.  The two stimuli based on basic needs were not enough to wage a war. People had enough food & safe places for shelters. Population was lesser than the area available. Apparently there were no reasons left to attack another tribe or nation. Civilizations could now embrace prosperity without violence. Then there came another element which would make civilizations annihilate each other like never before.

The religion.

Different religions found their way into human life in different civilizations across the world. Religion brought new ideology & life style. On one hand this element quenched the spiritual needs of people but on the other hand it became a stimulus of war. Wars were fought either to spread or to defend a certain dogma.

Instances like Pharaoh‘s attack on Israelis in Egypt, the massacre of Buddhist monks by Hindus in India;  Romans  murder of Jesus’s  followers,  Meccans attack on  Muslims of  Madina depicts the “power’ of this stimulus.  Once these ideologies survived the attacks, the followers waged wars in the similar fashion on others.

Jews, Christians, Hindus & Muslims fought for centuries butchering millions of followers of one another. Crusades & Arab-Israel conflicts are two prominent examples of the religion being as the bone of contention between nations of the world. The vibrancy of this element to fuel a war doesn’t seem to end very soon.

However, wars can also be tied in with other reasons which cannot be ignored.  Emergence of nation states in the last few centuries gave birth to another abstract entity. The Nationalism.  People felt proud & superior about their creed, ancestral background, historical achievements & land in which they lived. The pride and superiority complex navigated them towards the path of war.

People of the same faith were at daggers drawn. Ironically, the dark side of nationalism was exposed by the most developed nations of the time. French fought British for centuries, before they together combated against Germany & allies in the world war one & two. Millions of soldiers sacrificed their lives without any hesitation for their nations. No one hesitated when nationalists like  Masulini & Hitler sent their  respective army to cut a swathe through Muslims of Libya & Jews in Germany.  When the conscience of Italians ,Germans & other war players woke up in the mid of the 19th century, millions of people had been killed in vain. On the other side, blinded by superiority complex European ‘cleaned’ the Red Indians from their own land in North & South America. Similar killings have been across carried out in different parts of the world, too.

Some philosopher & scientists previously thought that the only way of stopping further wars was the invention of lethal weapons. Fear of the dreadful results caused by modern weapons could put prove to be a barrier in the way of these stimuli.

Unfortunately it didn’t materialize. With each invention the havoc was bigger in magnitude than before.  The number of people killed by guns, tanks, jets & bombs in one century is many times greater than the people killed in the entire history of humankind.    Even today, all the stimuli, embellished with modern inventions, are still in action. Wars are being fought for fundamental essentials i.e. economic & territorial gain.  American army is roaming in the streets of oil rich countries like Iraq & Libya while Russia is busy swallowing Ukranian lands. Based on religious ideology, Israelis & Palestinians have locked horns for decades while ISIS & Taliban have created havoc in many countries. Nationalism is the driving force behind the expelling of Rohingyas by Burmese army.  Like these, many other countries like India & Pakistan and South & North Korea are in the brink of war with each other.

Millions have been killed ever since Homo sapiens started life on earth. Mere lamenting this fact won’t stop the war in the future.  Lessons are needed to be learnt & measures are needed to be taken to avoid any kind of skirmishes let alone a full scale war.  Every war ends on a dialogue table. This sequence is prevalent for centuries. It is the time to reverse the sequence.

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