What Causes War

1310 Words6 Pages
Throughout time the study of war has always been a focal point in the study of international relations. Over time, there have been many theories proposed to help us understand what actually causes wars. Some theories depend on social and mental nature of man or separate learners in general. Other theories focus on the decision making process of the regime or domestic politics to describe the theories of war (Reiter 2003). Nevertheless, the most dominant theories or perceptions of what causes wars are Realism and Liberalism. These two theories place emphasis that the state is a single rational actor. In simpler terms both theories are system level theories that place emphasis on the state being the main actor in international relations.
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Clausewitz was proposing that if states perceive war as something that is a necessary step so that they can promote their own interests and power, well then they will use it as a rational political tool. Kenneth Waltz and other modern realists have further built on Clausewitz idea of what causes wars and have also furthered and added to the idea. In Kenneth Waltz’s writing in “Man, the State and War”, he sets out three interconnected images of what causes wars. The first one, which keeps in line with a classical realist thought, is war has its origins in flawed human nature. This suggest that “the evilness of men, or their improper behaviour, leads to war” (Waltz, 2001, p.39). Waltz’s second image that he proposes is that the inner administration of the state component is essential for us to understand its tendency towards war. The image has two beliefs that state that for survival in central conflict or civil war, a state must endorse an entity that is homogenously unified. The third image that Waltz highlights the anarchy that exists in the international system. He proposes that as states have such interests that will all too often clash with the interest of other states, e.g. resources that may be scarce, and with no supreme authority to stop…show more content…
The essay provided an outline on each theory before going on to explain the theory’s view on what causes wars. After I evaluated and juxtaposed, it led me to the conclusion that even though there are changing and opposite explanations to answer the question of what causes wars, realism provided the most relevant answer. It seems as if the balance of threat against a potential hegemony has been the most relevant answer as to what causes wars. I can also conclude from this that because states are the primary actors in international relations they will seek to expand their power because they believe it is an essential element in an anarchical
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