Wars have been waged for decades creating the world we live in today. Charles Tilly observed, “the state made war and war made the state” (qtd in Sernau, 2009, 147). However, these battles have been destructive and bloody resulting in the deaths of countless individuals. These grave consequences lead us to ask the ever problematic question, what could possibly motivate a state to engage in warfare? Fundamentally, some believe war is linked to a conflict of political and economic interests rooted in power struggles ranging from territorial and humanitarian to ideological and ethnic while others argue that war has become ingrained in our societies and economies resulting in this tenacious cycle of confrontation.
Territories are the bases of states. Accordingly, Joshua Goldstein and Jon Pevehouse explain that “Most of today’s borders are the result of past wars (in which winners took territory from losers) or were imposed arbitrarily by colonizers” (Goldstein and Pevehouse, 2009, 25). Territory is precious to states and is rarely yielded voluntarily for any incentive and lost territory is not quickly forgotten (Goldstein and Pevehouse, 2009, 133). For example, disputes were the consequences of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I and the Middle Eastern region being colonized by England and France through the Sykes Picot agreement (Singh, 2003). Eventually these colonies gained their freedom but several territory disputes arose the most prominent being the Israeli-Palestinian conflict linked to the Oslo Accords (Singh, 2003). The concept of irredentism which is “The goal of regaining territory lost to another state” (Goldstein and Pevehouse, 2009, 133) is a problematic result of this dispute with Palestinians believing their land has been taken from them.
Another component of territorial conflict deals with the competition for resources, specifically natural resources like oil, minerals, and gold which are powerful sources of revenue for state economies especially in the third world. Alexander Nikitin points out that in these third world countries, “Striving for resources converts into geopolitical clashes and wars between states” (Nikitin, 2000, 8). A prominent example of this took place in 1990 when Iraqi forces under the rule of Saddam Hussein invaded its neighbor Kuwait in hopes of gaining the state’s oil fields (Nikitin, 2000, 8). This situation became a further example of the role resources plays in conflict as the United States intervened to help its ally, Kuwait who just happened to be a state rich in oil.
Humanitarian issues deal with the violations of human and ethnic rights through violent means within a state. Along with this instate conflict international actors may choose to step in adding to the struggle in an attempt to eliminate the abuses against human rights. Nikitin explains that this intervention is usually “…with military means against a regime abusing human and ethnic rights on a massive scale or in...