The Main factors of war include:

  1. National Pride.
  2. Rivalry over land.
  3. Need for resources and wealth.
  4. Long standing hatreds and grievances.
  5. Selfishness and greed.

In John Stoessinger’s ‘Why Nations go to War’ he argues that war comes about due to both sides believing that they have the moral right on their side. This goes along with the idea that it is believed that both sides tend to make an overly optimistic assessment of the outcome; misunderstanding the other sides point of view.

Several theories have arisen over the years in an attempt to pin down the main causes of war and civil conflict. These include:

  • Economic Theory: Wars begin as disputes over territory and the natural resources needed for wealth and security: US President Woodrow Wilson said in 1919 ‘The seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry.’
  • Marxist Theory: Wars are caused by competition for resources and markets.
  • Behaviour Theory: Human beings are inherently violent and transfer their aggression into hatred against their enemies.
  • Leadership Theory: Wars are started not by nations, but by individual leaders such as Hitler and Napoleon who seek conflict to maintain there power and popularity.
  • Malthusian Theory: Wars are caused by population expansion and the need for more resources, especially water. Pope Urban II in 1095 before the first crusade announced, ‘For the land which you now inhabit is now too narrow for your large population; it scarcely furnishes enough food. Hence it is that you murder and devour one another, that you wage wars and many among you perish.’
  • ‘Youth Bulge’ Theory: Where nations have very large numbers of unemployed and poorly educated young males who seek to burn off their aggression in conflict.
  • Grievances Theory: Wars are caused by long-standing religious or ethnic hatreds between nations or races.