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Wars have gone on since the dawn of time, it seems. They are terrible and catastrophic, yet we seem to not know how to stop them from happening. As people who have witnessed worldwide wars for maybe our entire lives, it is good to introspect about the reasons behind wars. Wars are not always conducted because of anger, jealousy, resentment, or hate. There is a so-called “just war.” For instance, the United States Marines delineate these reason for war: “Immediate defense of the nation (response to an attack) 2) Control of raw materials 3) Control of means of production 4) Control of trade routes 5) Control of trade profits 6) Treaty obligations involving the above in the nation’s best interests” (The Economist). We will go into detail about these causes in the following paragraphs.

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Defending one’s nation from invasion is the most honorable and moral reason for war, by most standards. A nation retaliating against an attack on its people and national borders is protecting its citizens and national identity. There is an innocence in being a victim and hitting back at those who have harmed you. Though the Christian doctrine relies on forgiveness, and most western countries engaged in wars are “Christian nations,” fighting back against an invasion or direct attack on a nation is seen as the most just form of war (BBC).

Gaining and/or maintaining control over raw materials is another key reason for wars to be started and sustained. As the website Modern Diplomacy states, “The war for raw materials amounts to a reshuffling of the power relations among Western nations, on one hand, and the emerging and/or developing nations, on the other. The rise of China, BRICS, and the growing strength of the sovereign wealth funds of Arab nations, which are oil exporters, provides the evidence. Resources are powerful weapons in economic warfare, and everything suggests that the conflict will only intensify. The International Energy Agency estimates that world demand for energy will increase by 50% from now until 2030, especially owing to the growth of India and China” (Giuseppe, Gagliano). Some people say that most wars are fought over raw materials, as they make a nation strong and sustainable.

Relating to engaging in war over raw materials, controlling the means of production is also on top of the list. The production of materials is especially important for a country’s economy, and acts against a nation’s production of materials can be seen as an engagement of war. Therefore, many nations, when faced with a serious threat to their economy through an offensive on their means of production, engage in war.

Another economic reason, the control of trade routes, is a more traditional reason to conduct a war. Trade routes have been versatile and flexible since the age of the Internet, though most of the trade of the world is still done by ship (United Nations). Therefore, the control of trade routes by sea is still essential. However, much trade that is not dealing with raw materials can be sent through the Internet. If a country cuts off the trade routes of another country, the victimized country is liable to counter this action.

As you might have noticed, there has been a pattern of economic advantages or disadvantages, and engaging in war based on these premises. Yet another economic reason to start a war is the control of trade profits. War can increase trade with another allied nation, or it can combat the decrease, or impending decrease, in trade profits. Suffering economically can mean the eventual death of a nation, so it is fair to go to war for economic reasons.

Finally, moving away from economic reasons, wars also happen due to obligations to treaties. The first and second world wars can be said to be treaty-based wars, for example. These treaties are a sign of ideological relationships between countries and protecting their interests. Countries make treaties for several reasons, but one of them is the protection of countries’ borders by military force.

As it can be seen, war is usually tied to economic, ideological, and nationalistic concepts. A “just war” is not based on emotions, but rather on keeping the prosperity of said countries. With all these reasons for war, it looks like there is no reason for wars to end in the coming century.


“Why Wars Happen.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, 16 Dec. 2008,

“Ethics – War: What Is a ‘Just Cause’?” BBC, BBC,

Giuseppe, Gagliano. “The War for Raw Materials.” Modern Diplomacy, 25 Feb. 2018,

“” United Nations, United Nations,

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Cathy Downes March 30, 2023


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