Military Conflict: Why States and Other Actors Resort to Force
Violent Conflict in World Politics
The value of nuclear weapons has rested in their non-use because it rendered other
nuclear weapons useless.
Some people even say that wars can possibly be obsolete because people fear that a
war can escalade into nuclear war – this was proven false with Saddam Hussein to
take Kuwait and the response from the United Nations.
The legitimacy of force or the threat of force is maintained in several ways.
The UN allows states to use force in the form of self-defense.
After World War II, 150 governments have been created due to the multiethnic and
Force has been used as a principal tool by non-state actors to challenge established
governments for control of a state or a region that hopes to become a state of its
own. The use of force by non-state actors is one of a number of challenges to the
nation-state in the contemporary system.
War is the most studied form of international interaction.
Kenneth Waltz made three different levels of analysis for theoretical explanations
The first image focuses on human nature and the psychological needs and
deficiencies we all supposedly possess by virtue of our genetic make-up (individual
level of analysis). The main idea from this is that the causes of war are found in the
nature and behaviour of man. Wars result from selfishness, from misdirected
aggressive impulses and from stupidity. Other factors that are associated are all
secondary and has to be interpreted with the primary factors – Margaret Meed
suggests that war is a human invention.
Relative Deprivation and Aggression
They say that violence arises when there is a feeling of relative deprivation. This
can arise with comparison to the past, present and expected future condition. This
can also occur when they feel like they are not receiving what they are deserve.
It is very common to feel this way when a former prosperous country experience
It is very likely for states to feel relative deprivation when they have been
experiencing improvement for a period of time and all of a sudden an economic set-
up occurs – it causes more distress than if it had followed a period of unchanged
conditions. This situation can also arise when countries feel like they are excluded
from opportunities of economic growth.
For example: countries that have been improving might see themselves as worse off
because they witness other countries prosperity and this is a problem called rising
expectations. Military Conflict between states has varied widely both in terms of severity (the
extent of death and destruction involved) and scope (the number of participants
War is the most severe form of interstate conflict.
Global Wars include numerous participants, including great powers (systemic
Disputes over possession of territory are the most common – during the 19 th
century ad since the end of World War II the most common conflict producing issue
has been “nation-state creation” – arguments about national liberation and
unification movements. This all could be reflected upon the rise of national
independence movements and the wave of European colonization.
The wave of decolonization was the ultimate success post World War II – this
caused most of the conflicts in the second half of the 20 century – this
decolonization was not peaceful at all because the European countries were not
engaging with interstate wars but national wars.
There has been a shift in the type of conflicts among international relations; before
it was solely based on territories – now it is disputes over ideas about proper forms
of political, economic and social interaction.
Conflicts have also arisen through religion and ethnicity because states would go to
war to defend their religious views.
Accompanying these and other issues is often predation – which is the desire to
eliminate a state as a sovereign state.
Domestic Economic Structure and War
One dimension of a state’s internal organization is its form of governance –
democratically ran countries are less likely to engage in wars (usually towards other
Realists believe that it doesn’t matter how different economic systems are organized
within powerful countries because their goals will be the same.
Liberals do believe it does make a difference in economic systems – they promote
world peace. Some would believe that capitalists’