The Cycles of International Conflict

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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 belie...

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