What is “War”? Some definitions

In the challenge to understand “war”, here are some definitions. This is the first of two or three posts on listing definitions. One must understand anything in order to build an appropriate response, of course. This is true in the medical field as it is in politics and in conflict. On my desk are two books that I’m going through this week. The first is Colonel Callwell’s 1906 Small Wars and the second is Ahmed Hashim’s Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq, both of which are excellent so far and will be reviewed later (currently I’d say get them and get them now). On to the definitions:

War as an Act of Violence

  • “War is a violent contact of distinct but similar entities” – Quincy Wright, A Study of War, 1942
  • “War is an act of violence intended to compel our opponents to fulfill our will…” – Clausewitz, On War
  • “War is a contest or contention carried on by force” – Cicero
  • “War is that state in which men constantly exercise acts of indeterminate violence against each other.” – Martens, Precis du Droit des Gens, 1788

War as an Absence of Peace

  • “… the death of the insured on board the Lusitania must be conceded to be a result of war.” – Vanderbilt v Travelers Insurance Co., New York Supreme Court, 1920
  • “War is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse, with a mixture of other means.” – Clausewitz, On War
  • “War hath no fury like a non-combatant.” – Charles Edward Montague, Disenchantment, 1922
  • “The State of War is a State of Enmity and Destruction: And therefore declaring by Word or Action, not a passionate and hasty, but a sedate settled Design, upon another Mans Life, puts him in a State of War with him whom he has declared such an Intention, and so has exposed his Life to the Others Power to be taken away by his…” – Locke, Two Treatises of Government, 1690
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2 thoughts on “What is “War”? Some definitions

  1. War as a function of economy.War is good for business. Peace is good for business. – Ferengi rules of acquisition

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