Talk:War/Archive 2

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Electronic Warfare

u guys have done a gud job in writing bout the history. but u can make it more attractive by improving its technical parts.:) --Davy Jones 18:56, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

Could anyone publish a HOW-TO on how to start a war? We shouldn't keep this all historic and theoretic.

The three easiest ways to start a war seem to be: question someone's parentage/legitimacy, question their religion, or just think you personally are better suited to lead a particular country. Sure, there are some purely political wars...

The first sentence excludes Civil War. Is civil war considered a type of war?

I think so. Civil war is just like one country dividing into two countries and whoever wins the war keeps all the land. furthermore, I think that wars can also be started by one country bugging another country, so that the other country declares war in revenge. bigman 17:36, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

(on head page) "It has been said that war is the continuation of politics and diplomacy? by other means". Sounds like Klauswitz to me. --drj.

Clausewitz said: "War is an extension of politics by other means". Lenin said "politics is concentrated economics". So you could add the two premises, perform a deduction, and conclude that war is an extension of economics. But that might be a bit crude. Adhib 17:00, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Article says: After the Geneva convention, a war must fulfill a number of formal criteria. Activities that most people would label a war should in that nomenclature in actuality be an armed conflict.

Two questions: (1) which Geneva convention? There are actually several Geneva conventions relating to the rules of law, so we normally say "Geneva conventions", not "Geneva convention". Could you please quote the full title of the convention(s) in question?

(2) what are the "formal criteria" that determine what is a "war" and what is an "armed conflict"? Is it a question of whether it is of international character (wars between states) or an internal war (civil wars, rebellions, etc.)? -- SJK

I'm bit hazy on all of this, someone with better info really should have a go at this important article...Alas the actual dates and formal name I have no idea about. One of the formal requirements are alt least that both states declare war on each other. For example: During WWII, England ad Germany were at war, USA and Germany were not, as the US never formally declared war on Germany. And so on and so forth. Furthermore, should we include information on the rules of war (for example restrictions on shotguns, laser weapons for blinding and like questions)? On alla accounts, proper names of the treaties and the dates of their signing should be here. International warcrimes tribunal also needs mentioning. Much to be done, i'm afraid... --Anders Torlind

US declared war on Germany -Dec 11, 1941 after they declared war with us. ---rmhermen

Bad example then. Anything to add perhaps? --Anders Törlind.

War is the health of the state. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense . . . In a nation at war, every citizen identifies himself with the whole, and feels immensely strengthened in that identification . . . He achieves a superb self-assurance, an intuition of the rightness of all his ideas and emotions, so that in the suppression of opponents or heretics he is invincibly strong; he feels behind him all the power of the collective community. - Randolph Bourne

hmm, I am not sure what issue you are adressing but it seems to me to be a little exaggerated to say that when a nation is at war every citizen automaticaly sides with the goverment and supports their cause blindly, just look at the US and how the people there reacted to the war on Iraq. Alex 16:55, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

While the Toledo war is an interesting bit of historical trivia, I don't think I would count it as a "significant" war in world history.

How are significant wars defined? I noticed that there are mostly western wars, included some which i don't consider important from my, central european perspective. On another hand, what about ealier ones: Hussite Wars, Great War with Teuton Order, 13years war, Northern wars, Polish-Soviet war... Which were significant and which weren't and why? Could i add any war i consider significant?

I should think a "significant" war is one which had long lasting and far reaching consequences. The rise or fall of an empire would count, and one that introduced new methods of warfare would count. One very wide in scope would count also. Beyond that it seems like a matter of judgement really. As to whether you should add any particular war, I would say that if you are in doubt, be sure to write a justification for it being there. Wikipedia is not paper, so having a rather large list doesn't seem problematic to me, as long as it is well organized and a reason is given for its significance. --Dmerrill

"War," by definition is any large-scale conflict between nations which utilizes weapons (whether formally declared or not). I tend to agree with Dmerrill concerning what constitutes a "significant" war in history. Recent history is a bit more difficult to judge. Some military historians lump the Korean Conflict, the War in Vietnam, the military actions in the Dominican Republic, the incursion into Cuba, the conflict in Panama, and several other "minor" altercations under either "a continuation of World War II," or as part of the "Cold War." I rather suspect that many more recent conflicts, such as Bosnia, Chechnya, and perhaps the Russian invasion of Afghanistan (as prelude), will qualify as "geopolitcal realignment" shortly before and after the collapse of the USSR. The Gulf War and the current military actions in Afghanistan will probably be seen as part of a continuing, long-term conflict between the West and extremist Islamic geopolitical/georeligious aspirations. F. Lee Horn, CPT, INF, USA (Retired/Disabled)

I got a "404 Not Found" error with this link. Anyone? Tzartzam 19:34 Sep 12, 2002 (UTC)

I'd like to float an idea. We need as a group (the military writers for Wikipedia) to discuss an overall structure, so we can weave in the vast amount of information on this subject throughout the Military portion of Wikispace at least. I've been searching throughout Wikispace for individual military knowledge, and I've found that it is impossible to find anything easily.

Most things are bizzarely referenced. For example, placing military under "see also:" on this page seems rather strange. A description of how War operates without using a reference to organized militaries in the description seems very weird to me. I think that this entire section (War, Military, Strategy, etc.) needs an overall strategy, operations plan, and plan of attack itself.

I was thinking that the group could discuss things like - "I'm writing on AAAA. I'm including references to XX, YY, and ZZ. Anyone think I should add other links, or include more detail about XX and it's relationship to AAAA?" Or conversely "Hey, your article on XX is great. I'm gonna add references to it in my articles AAAA, YY, and ZZ". That way, as new things are expanded or added, we can keep the space pointing toward root concepts that form the body of knowledge. The goal is to have a coherent work that can be referenced throughout Wikispace (via any entrance) that will flow toward the root concepts. In this way, someone can educate themselves about military matters and be able to apply that knowledge to the specific (usually non-military) question they asked of the 'pedia.

I don't mean to imply ownership and exclusivity towards anything - I love Wikipedia for its application of applied anarchy. But to take the military motif to its logical end..... <GRIN> If we create a general staff, then give various staff officers a piece of the overall plan, than I think we could get a much more organized and coherent overall body of work up in no time at all. Well, at least stuff with logical references to the core threads of knowledge.


Related thoughts on ideas above:

A how to on war is a great idea. Various postulated reasons for starting wars is a great idea as well. (I for one, don't think wars start for any other reason than economics - the pomp and circumstance of religion, succession, etc. is all window dressing to me. I don't believe in World War I and World II being separate wars, I think of them as the 20th century 30 years war..... etc. - all these ideas and more should be discussed.) References to Clausewitz are useless for normal people, we need to summarize and clarify information resources such as these - that's why people read encyclopedias, after all.

The Geneva conventions need to be discussed, what they are and how they apply, and a discussion of relevant examples - Guantanamo Bay, for example. I have an article (an opinion piece) on that specific question that I could use as a start, but this overall is a really big area, more than one person can handle. What were the excesses of the original 30 years war? Why did that lead to a basic formulation of the concepts for a law of war? Why did all combatants in the second 30 years war reject the lessons of the first? (Take allied strategic bombing in WWII, was that a war crime? And is the law written by the winners (as in WWII) for their benefit only - that melds into questions of law in general.....)

Again, a overall plan would be nice..... Dobbs 16:48 Sep 25, 2002 (UTC)

Regarding the Clausewitz quote: I have changed the German text to the original (heading of Paragraph 24, Chapter 1, Book 1). The text is available at the German Gutenberg project at I have also changed the English translation to become more literal. (Note on this: in today´s usage, eine bloße means a mere but in Clausewitz´s use it seems more appropriate to render this as merely a) Kosebamse 08:04 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

Why this sentence which is the best definition of war was destroyed with no justification? War does not determine who is Right, Only who is Left!

It is POV. Sam Spade 04:05, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)

To indicate that it's by Bertrand Russell isn't enough?

I wasn't aware that you gave a citation of who wrote it. If you do that, and its in the right place in the article, it should be fine. To me it looked like you randomly stuck it in, w no citation. Sam Spade 02:54, 19 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Edit warfare sidebar at Mediawiki:warfare -SV(talk) 08:28, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Why are Violence - Total war Genocide - Democide - Ethnic cleansing - Population transfer Murder - Terrorism - Assassination - Execution Coersion - Torture - Intimidation - Rape including under a listing of warfare? These things are objects that belong to violence and intimidation rather than war. Armies do not rape or murder, individuals do. Warfare does not involve these things, rather they are crimes; something that war technically is not. This is very POV and should be reworked or removed. Stargoat 22:27, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I agree with Dobbs (above) about the need for structure. I wanted to add a number of elements regarding war and presidential powers, what is and what is not a traditional military activity. (For non-US readers, this has important relevance to how the US forces and the US President can initiate and report on wars).

Would it be better if the war page was a mainly summary page, linking to the other aspects? I am worried this will make it too fragmentary, but it has other advantages. Maybe the article needs a complete rewrite? Magicmike 31 Mar 2004.

--- In describing the Hitler quote, it seems erroreous to say he was "...avowing any belligerent aims...." I think it more likely that he was "disavowing" any belligerent aims, or, avowing "no" belligerent aims. Don't know the source of the quote, so let the original contributor make corrections to the description.

I think attempting to coordinate a staff to organize all warfare related topics is a little overly ambitious. It might be a better idea just to create a special index page (consisting of primarly links and very little content) to serve as a jumping-off point for those interested in warfare. That way one can see the macroscopic picture at a glance and then delve into more specific content as they need to. This might actually be a good idea for wikipedia at large. We could create two tiers of pages, one tier for the articles themselves and another tier for content/index direction pages. Does this sound like a good idea to anyone else? Digitalwarrior 19 Jun 2004.

I got rid of the Orwell quote. Wikiquote lists it as a misquotation, and I think most Orwell scholars agree. --Max power 11:38, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I have serious concerns about the second half of the third sentence here (" . . . the continued existence of a losing group as an entity is in doubt.") The problem is that the phrase is ambiguous. A casual reader might conclude that war usually ends with the extermination of one side or the other. I think the author means that war often ends with one side being conquered, losing its sovereignty or the like. During the time for which there are written records there have been only a handful of wars of extermination. Third Punic War, American-Indian Wars, some others. Most wars end with some change in the political relationship of the combatants. Perhaps someone could suggest a wording change that would make this clearer. WardHayesWilson 13:39, 10 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Cut from article:

Typically, warfare is mortal and lives of combatants are deliberately taken by enemy forces and the continued existence of a losing group as an entity is in doubt. In view of this, rules for the conduct of war are unenforceable during active conflict. A person faced with death, or an organisation faced with extinction, both have little incentive to obey rules that contribute to that result. If they can survive by breaking the rules they are likely to do so, and some would argue justifiably.

The above 4 sentences sound like a contributor's personal opinion. I do not consider the passage to be factual (except for the phrase which I placed in bold). I suggest these ideas belong in a code of conduct or rules of warfare article.

People differ over whether war is necessarily utterly immoral (or amoral, if there's a difference). Some armies have had no scruples at all: just kill anyone who gets in your way, take all the land and property you can grab, etc. Other armies have held themselves to various standards of conduct (shoot only at "combatants", negotiating terms of surrender, etc.).

I studied quite a bit about this during my 5 years in the US Army, before ultimately deciding NOT to make a career as a military officer. I found many admirable, principled elements in the US military, but not enough to devote my life to it. (Maybe I'm biased; if so, please help me to write about war in an un-biased way.) --Uncle Ed 18:16, 13 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Regarding "Edit warfare sidebar at Mediawiki:warfare -SV(talk) 08:28, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)" I suggess to add more to the sidebar. If you look at the whole picture of many wars, you would see posititution, sexually-transmitted deseases, anxiety, nerveous break-down, looting, hunger, moral-deppravion, medicine/matterial shortages ... on and on, and many other side-products. So many illnesses and areas there are not covered. Those areas probably require more information provided here to be sensible whether a government should support a war or how to manage a war. If these micro-facets are not eveluated as importance, the result of war would always be good. There should be no bad wars, except you lost it. You know? Historians need all these to his work for his a job. Historians should not be post for a reincarnated politician or columnist.

what about the effects of war??? you should write a bit about that- psychological effects, effect on society, effect on environment

Lil Miss Fail 07:38, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Information theory

I just added a paragraph of criticism to this section. I don't think I explained it very clearly, but I didn't want to leave it as it was. This theory is completely wrong as an explanation for war, for a number of reasons.

First off, it makes the dubious assumption that each nation is a rational player. That's wrong for two reasons. First, war is sometimes about cold, rational calculations, but it's also about irrational things like national pride, militarism, etc. Second, a nation is not an individual, and the burden of war on a nation will not be the same as the burden on it's leaders. A tin-pot dictator may not care about the costs to his people, as long as a war increases his odds of staying in power.

Not only that, but here's the killer: even perfectly rational nations (each treated as a single united entity) can fight wars. It only takes one side to decide that there will be a war. The only choice the other defender has is to fight or give up and lose by default. The war itself will be costly, but the benefits of even a small chance of winning (and thus not losing independence, or losing territory, or whatever it is that the aggressor is after) can be much higher. Few people would suggest, for example, that a rational Poland should have just surrendered to Nazi Germany just because the Germans were almost certain to win. Considering what happened afterward, even the tiniest chance of victory made fighting worthwhile.

After some consideration, I think that the best thing might be to remove the section. I don't know how popular the theory really is; if it's widespread enough, it might be worth debunking, but I feel like it would clutter the article. The explanation above is lengthy, and this is a general article. Comments anyone? Isomorphic 14:58, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

The information theory is an important, if not the most important, current theory of why war occurs. See works by Geoffrey Blainy, T.C.W. Blanning, and others for example. You seem to misunderstand some of the ideas behind this theory so perhaps I did not do a good enough job explaining it. - SimonP 16:23, Oct 20, 2004 (UTC)
I appreciate the rewrite, but I'm still not satisfied. Perhaps I was not sufficiently clear either. The statement "In theory to have enough information to prevent all wars [capability and intent] need to be fully known." is false. Even in theory, war could still occur with two sides that had complete and perfect knowledge of both the capabilities and intent of their opponents. The current article seems to be saying something more like "war wouldn't happen if both sides could see the future", which may or may not be true but is irrelevant to the real world. Isomorphic 18:06, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Could you provide some examples? Game theory tends to break down when both sides know exactly the behaviour of the other person and also have the time and ability to negotiate and compromise before any decision is made. The allegation that "knowing the future" and thus preventing all wars is impossible is correct, but it does not rule out that it is possible to better predict the future and by doing so make wars less likely. - SimonP 18:47, Oct 20, 2004 (UTC)
Game theory doesn't break down when you have time to negotiate, it just becomes cooperative game theory. I don't know what you mean about knowing the behavior of the other person; if you can accurately predict the behavior of your opponent, then you don't face a game, just an optimization problem. I'll try to give an example or two below. Isomorphic 19:31, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Wow, that's sad. No article on cooperative game theory. I should correct that when I've got sources handy. Isomorphic 19:33, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Information theory is moderately widely discussed. Popular in part because of the dominance in the US of game theory and rational choice schools in securities studies. I disagree with the theory, but I vote for its place in the pantheon. I don't follow what is going on in paragraphs two and three. Perhaps someone who knows more about this could distill them down to one shorter paragraph? This section does seem a little longer than others. WardHayesWilson 14:10, 22 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Another example than the Danish one should be chosen. Denmark sadly did NOT resist the occupation by the nazi troops. Denmark rolled over and cooperated in almost every way, both before and during its occupation. There was a small resistance movement in Denmark during the occupation, but more danes fell on the eastern front helping the germans than fell resisting them. JOhan Bressendorff(student of history Denmark) Paragraph four of the information theory section is simply false. It states: "This theory is predicated on the notion that the outcome of wars is not randomly determined, but fully determined on factors such as doctrine, economies, and power. While purely random events, such as storms or the right person dying at the right time, might have had some effect on history, these only influence a single battle or slightly alter the outcome of a war, but would not mean the difference between victory and defeat."

The game theory literature - which is very prominent in current political science research - does NOT assume that the outcome of war is predetermined. On the contrary, information theories of war usually assume that each side has a probability of winning proportionate to the amount of military power it has relative to the other side. If the two states are equally powerful, then the probability that either wins the war is fifty-fifty; if one state has twice as much power as the other, then the weaker state has a one-third chance of winning.

The mistake here may be due to the fact that the authors mentioned are not current. The touchstone scholarly article for information theories of war was written by James Fearon in 1995, and the theory has been greatly refined and expanded since then. - LauraHWLauraHW 07:30, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

Information examples

OK, here's an example of what I'm talking about.

Let's imagine two countries deciding to go to war or not over a disputed, resource-rich territory. The available strategies for each nation are just "war" and "no war". If each nation chooses peace, the land/resources will be split 50/50. If one nation chooses war and the other peace, the aggressor takes 100%. If both choose war, then winner takes all.

Now, continuing our simplification, let's assume there are only two kinds of militaries, strong and weak. A strong military beats a weak military 2/3 of the time, equally matched opponents have 50/50 odds. Now, we'll assume both players know which type they are and which type their potential opponent is.

In our game, equally matched opponents will see that they are equally matched, and will prefer a certainty of 50% of the resources rather than a 50% chance of all the resources and a certainty that the war will be costly.

However, in the case of a mis-match, the outcome depends on the expected cost of the war. If weak calculates that a losing war will inexpensive enough, it may be worth it to fight and have a chance taking everything, even though it's more likely to be a waste. Formally, weak will choose war if (1/3)V - W > 0 where V is the value of the resources, and W is the cost of the war.

The above situation will result in war no matter how you work it. I've already given each side a perfect knowledge of the others' capabilities, so there isn't any more information to give. Negotiation won't help; strong is better off going to war no matter what weak decides, and weak is better off fighting than submitting to strong's aggression. Formally, peace/peace is not an equilibrium because strong will deviate, and war/peace is unstable because weak will deviate. If you forbid negotiation or add the possibility of surprise attack, you switch to non-cooperative game theory and you will get war even between equally matched opponents.

Apologies for going on and on about this. Does the above example make sense? I realize it's vastly oversimplified, and I ignored risk aversion and some other points, but it's just a proof-of-concept.

I'm not claiming that having more information wouldn't prevent some wars. If, for example, strong believes that their opponent is weak, but the opponent is actually another strong, then there is an information failure and the war could potentially be prevented. However, it's false to state that having all nations share all information will necessarilly lead to a peaceful outcome, even in theory. Isomorphic 20:21, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

The flaw in this reasoning is "a strong military beats a weak military 2/3 of the time, equally matched opponents have 50/50 odds." Historians would argue that the nation better prepared for war, either with a better army, stronger economy, or more intelligent leadership, will beat the weaker side 100% of the time. Almost completely random factors like storms, human error, or the right person dying at the right time may effect the result of a battle or slightly change the outcome of a conflict, but whether a war results in victory or defeat is dependent on fundamentals. - SimonP 21:48, Oct 20, 2004 (UTC)
Ah! Thanks. That's an important assumption to state in the article, then. I was assuming that war has an important random element even if relative strengths are known. Whether that's true or not would be very hard to decide. After all it's hard to guage the relative fighting strength of two nations on anything other than which one wins when they fight. Isomorphic 01:37, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Sorry about that. I think historians and social scientists tend to see major historic events as predetermined, since if they were random it would make to whole task of trying to explain them rather pointless, and thus negate our entire profession. - SimonP 02:10, Oct 21, 2004 (UTC)

The reasons presented for war seem to ignore the obvious: some wars start because of precieved injustice: One of the sides in the conflict sees the status-quo as unbearable and prefers war to it's continuation.

This simple interpretation may well be thought to be wrong, to be solely excuses for the war made by leaders to rally the people behind the war etc, but it should at least be presented....

My backgroud allows me to offer these examples to clarify my point: Egypt started a war against Israel in 1973 because they considered Israel holding the Sinai pininsuala an unaccpetable situation. The Palestinians support the intifada (war according to the def. here), and often in their rehtorics a total war, because of the injustice they procceve in the Israeli occupation. Saddam invaded Quwait claiming that it is injust for a small, oil-rich territory to be enclosed as a separate nation, making them extreemly rich on account of other people who remain poor.

I don't quite know how this should be added to the article. I think that there's probobly a notable scholar who published these ideas, and should be linked. The examples shouldn't be added, as they're quite specific and might be considered POV.

Cederal 16:50, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)