Why humans are unable to end all wars?


Who has not longed for the day when war will be no more?

As much as we would like to see it, however, the end of war has, so far, eluded all human efforts.

Not only is war still very much with us but it also has become so destructive and deadly that for the first time in human history the continuation of civilization, and even life itself, is threatened.

In view of the grave danger looming ahead, we cannot help but ask: Why have human efforts to prevent war been such miserable failures?

Is war really inevitable?

Indeed, why are wars fought in the first place?

Why human efforts fail?

A journalist and military historian Gwynne Dyer writes.

If you live in a neighborhood where there are no police and everybody has guns and lives in constant fear of being attacked, then there is going to be a lot of shooting. That is the sort of neighborhood that all the countries of the world live in. There are no international police, so each country keeps itself armed and ready for violence; but the kind of violence that countries get involved in has a special name. We call it war.”

Though that is a rather simplified explanation, it does point out several of the basic factors that make for war.

There must be the means to wage war as well as the inclination to do so.

Along with these, we note also the lack of law and order in the “neighborhood,” which in this case is the world.

Consequently, the success or failure of any effort to bring war to an end would depend largely on how it deals with these basic factors. 

Has any human scheme, no matter how noble in concept, been successful in doing so?

Let us examine the facts.

(1) Lack of international order

Many attempts have been made in the past to create some sort of world agency with the power to police the nations and to maintain international law and order.

The League of Nations, for example, was formed at the end of World War I to ensure that the world would not again be plunged into war.

In effect it sank into oblivion with the outbreak of World War II.

Then, in 1945, the United Nations organization emerged, to be praised and adored by many as mankind’s hope for peace.

What has been its record?

Today few people believe that the UN has the ability to prevent wars and conflicts from erupting.

Its existence does little to allay the fear of a third world war or a nuclear holocaust.

(2) Mounting threat and tension

Another reason that agencies such as the UN are powerless to prevent war is that the nations around the world are fully dedicated to national sovereignty and rights.

They care little about international responsibility or rules of conduct.

To reach their ends, some nations feel fully justified in using any means that they consider necessary—massacres, assassinations, hijackings, bombings, and so on—often with the innocent being the victims.

Even the major powers of the world often push one another to the limit in the name of self-preservation and national interest.

How long will the nations put up with one another in such senseless and irresponsible conduct?

How many Iraq’s, Sudan's, Afghanistan’s, Syria’s, Yemen’s and so on can the world survive without a major confrontation?

What must not be overlooked is religion’s role in these wars and killings.

Mankind’s blood-drenched history can be attributed in great measure to the misguiding influence of religion.

(3) Armed and ready

One major reason why nations have not been able to do away with war is that they have not been able to do away with the means to wage war.

Even though they know that the spiraling arms buildup is suicidal, they are not willing to give it up or to slow it down

By now it is common knowledge that the arsenals of the superpowers are stocked with enough nuclear devices to destroy all human life on earth many times over.

But what about the other nations?

Developing nations around the world, though hard pressed economically, have spent billions of dollars in the last decade acquiring some of the most advanced aircraft, missiles, and tanks available.

The result? 

It has reached the point now where many of the buyers are having problems absorbing all their new hardware.

Many nations are literally armed to the teeth, as the saying goes.

The fact that they have only so-called conventional weapons makes them that much more willing and ready to put them to use.

(4) Peace—only for those who want it

It has been said often that wars are fought by people, not by weapons.

Therefore, even though it is essential that the means to wage war be eliminated, that in itself will not guarantee lasting peace.

Logically, if we want to see true peace, the political, racial, and nationalistic hatreds that divide the world into ever so many blocs and camps must also be done away with.

What has frustrated efforts to achieve global peace?

An obvious factor is that the human family is disunited.

Humanity is fragmented into nations and cultures that distrust, hate, or fear one another.

There are conflicting values, perceptions, and goals.

Furthermore, use of military power has for millenniums been seen as a legitimate way to pursue national interests.

After acknowledging this situation, a report from the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College stated:

To many, this implied that peace would only come with world government.”

Some have felt that the United Nations might be that government.

But the UN was never intended to be a world government with power beyond that of its member nations.

It is only as strong as its member nations allow it to be.

Suspicion and disagreement continue between those nations, and the power they grant to the UN is limited.

Therefore, instead of shaping the international system, the UN remains more a reflection of it.


So what are the main factors aspects of human society that historically have led to war?

They include religious intolerance, racism, cultural differences, differing ideologies, nationalism and the doctrine of national sovereignty, economic conditions, and a popular acceptance of militarism.

When you read that list, do you see anything that is likely to change in the near future?

Will the nations be less determined to preserve their sovereignty?

Will humans become less racist?

Will religious fundamentalists be less fanatical?

Your guess is as good as mine.