Conflict: then & now

This page that will offer an interesting evidence-base of details from numerous sources that will help address the ‘how, what and why’ of conflict in order for it to be more fully understood.  The information that is produced for this page is related to war in general, war history, conflict, terrorism and other related issues–including current crises such as the increasingly burgeoning Asia-Pacific; and geo-strategic and geo-political policies of nation-states and other actors.  The information will cross centuries as well as encompass the present, and will provide insights into any historical and contemporary complexities therein; and some comment will be offered by the author of this page as suggestion or if warranted, factually-based commentary.  All information is in no particular order however, it has within it a series of insights that the reader can extrapolate upon and with the intent of deeper and more nuanced understandings.

This page will have regular updates and will hopefully be informative to all audiences — from those with a passing interest in International Relations to those with a more pronounced focus, whether they be high school students or professionals in their field.


Starting at the beginning: one of the most succinct explanations of war …

What ‘is’ war ?

[W]ar is a contention over something and that while war differs from other contentions in that it employs a special means, namely force, we should not lose sight of the fact that war is a form of contention … From this perspective, war may be considered a violent way of getting objects of value.

See: John Vasquez.  The War Puzzle.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, 30.  Emphasis in original.

Why and how was the Roman Empire so successful conquering all those in its     path ? 

[R]oman soldiers were trained to manoeuvre as units, receiving their orders by bugle call and maintaining their cohesion even in the chaos of battle.  As a result, any Roman commander worth his salt could deliver maximum force when opportunity presented itself, and retreat in good order if necessary.  Disciplined, coherent forces had advantage over even very large numbers of ferocious opponents acting as individuals … just 300 legionaries who had been cut off [at Gaul] were able to defend themselves for hours against 6,000 opponents at the cost of only a few wounded.

See:  Peter Heather.  The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, 7.

How and why did fighting for European/Europa (Christianitas), gain so much credence and credibility ?

The rise in the knights’ [as a professional soldier]  standing followed changes in military technique—the development of castles, for instance, and the growth of fighting on horseback—which enhanced the standing and prestige of those who fought … In the eleventh century, we also saw the blessing [by the clergy] of swords and weapons. There emerged a religious ceremony of knightly investiture … As kings were crowned so knights were invested.  Knighthood now was, or could be, a vocation.  The Church was in touch with the profession of arms, without the king as an intermediary.  The warfare of knights was securing a new sanction and prestige … .

See:   H.E. J. Cowdrey.  ‘The Genesis of the Crusades: The Springs of Western Ideas of Holy War.’  The Holy War.  Edited by Patrick Murphy.  Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1976, 14 – 17.

Through articulate war ‘management’ Great Britain won wars and (eventually) ruled the World 

The British practice of warfare from the sixteenth century to World War 1 was to employ…[a] way of war [which] de-emphasized direct confrontation, concentration, mass, and battle and emphasized surprise, mobility, manoeuvre, peripheral attacks on the enemy weaknesses, dispersion, conversion of resources, and negotiated settlements.  War was to be conducted in a “businesslike” manner and was to be profitable.  The British used sea power primarily to achieve their limited strategic objectives.  They traditionally fought low-expenditure, high-gain wars that took advantage of Britain’s geographic circumstances that exploited those of its enemy.  The British way of war was to destroy when possible the enemy’s fleet; attack enemy trade; block the enemy’s coast and conduct raids on the enemy’s ports, coastal towns and colonies; seize, when possible, the enemy’s colonies; subsidize allies on the Continent; wait for the attacks on the enemy’s economy and peripheral areas to erode its capacity to resist; exploit opportunities through the use of surprise made possible by the superior mobility of the fleet; deploy limited expeditionary forces on the Continent to fight alongside the larger forces of the allies; and finally, to manoeuvre the enemy into an untenable position in which it had no other option but to conclude a peace agreement on terms set by the British and their allies.

See:  Adrian Lewis.  Omaha Beach:  A Flawed Victory. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001, 34 – 35..

Commentary:  is this a signal to the way in which China will fight wars in the future?