War termination is the study of how wars end, including theories of how wars can and should be ended.
In comparison to other aspects of war, war termination has received relatively less study. According to Fred Charles Iklé, "[H]istorians, foreign affairs experts, and military strategists have devoted far more thought to the question of how and why wars begin." This idea is echoed by Gideon Rose, who writes:
For all endgames' drama and historical importance, however, they have received far less attention than other phases of war. A few books look at the ends of individual wars, and there is a small academic literature on what political scientists call war termination. But in general, endgames have been as neglected by scholars as they have been by policymakers.
In studying the factors which constrain and shape the actions of decision-makers and strategists in ending wars, there are three major schools of thought:
- Realism, which considers that a nation's foreign policy is primarily concerned with security issues, and sees international power politics as the most important factor;
- Those who see internal factors, such as political ideology and domestic politics, as the primary factors;
- Those who consider psychological factors, such as the personalities of a country's leaders, and the society's experiences in the most recent war, as most instrumental in shaping those leaders' actions in the endgame.
- Iklé, p.vii
- Rose, p.4
- Rose, p.5