The Three Levels Of War: The Causes Of War

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According to the lecture notes, wars, in general, have idiosyncratic causes; but, political scientists noticed some patterned and categorized those causes into three levels: individual level, state/society level, and international-system level. Causes of war can be attributed to individual leaders, who are aggressive either by nature or by the misperceptions they have about other nations or groups of people, such as the anti-Semitic leader of Germany, Adolf Hitler, who is considered by many as a main cause of WWII, and Kim Jong Un, the young leader of North Korea who have shown some aggressive attitudes, but not actual acts, towards the United States. States and societies also can be causes of some wars. States with different political systems are more likely to fight than states with similar systems, such as the capitalist liberal United States against the communist Soviet Union. Similarly, civil wars are more likely to occur between people of different ethnicities, religions, or economic classes, such as the Sudanese ethnic conflict, and Islamic Sunni-Shiite conflict. The third level of war can be attributed to the nature of the international political system, which is anarchic, continuously changing, and lacking any higher authority. Thus, each state must defend itself against other’s aggressions. An example of this level can be seen in WWI and WWII. Having mentioned these three levels, it is essential to recognize that a war can be triggered by a combination of causes

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