About War

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・English ・APA ・3 Sources

Clear archives dating back to 3000 BC in Mesopotamia chronicle the oldest developments in recorded history. People discovered the importance of maintaining written records of human history as a credible way of transmitting knowledge from one generation to the next as humanity started to progress and advance. A violent war raged between the Sumerians and the Elamites in 2700 BC. It is the first known instance of conventional warfare (Gabriel & Mertz, 1992, p. 4). Human history has been characterized by brutal and turbulent wars, and this was almost certainly so during prehistory as well. Just as the ancient civilizations determined that expanding their written records was important to humanity and the future, we of this day and age must also understand that with the advancement of our culture and technology the definition of some words can change over time. Sometimes the meaning of a word may evolve over time and its definition may have to depend on the context to which it is applied. One such word is ‘war’ which has happened since time immemorial and therefore the definition of what constitutes this phenomenon has changed over time.
Society must challenge the conventional and widely accepted definitions of ‘war.’ In these modern times, there is need to define the word within the context of the society today. I posit war can take place without physical conflict. War can rise and may be won from the passive assault on the culture, ideals, or economy of an enemy. Furthermore, the inability to recognize these passive forms of infiltration as a modern type of war, some with consequences equally as dire as the aforementioned conventional definitions of war, can create a blind spot that puts our civilization in significant danger of being unable to recognize and respond to threats to our way of life.
Today many countries are armed with deadly weapons where at any moment civilization could be destroyed with a whim and a push of a button. With the numerous military technological advances in the last century, most notably the nuclear bomb, we find ourselves in a whole new world. Over the last seven decades, this idea of deadly armament has been termed mutually assured destruction (M.A.D). Simply put, if one country with nuclear capabilities chooses to deploy a nuclear weapon at an enemy target, the target state will retaliate by launching a defensive nuclear strike. The result? No winners, only human casualties on a massive scale and the potential for a global apocalypse, which defines a pyrrhic victory. This concept of M.A.D. has helped deter conventional war and has forced the various governing bodies of the world to find new, inventive ways of conducting ‘war’ against threats.
For example, the United States, who never saw WWII reach its homeland, emerged from WWII as a global economic superpower. The United States used its newfound godlike economic status to help rebuild Western Europe and disseminated grants to European countries to spend on US goods and services, strengthening the US economy even more. The United States plan was to, outspend the economically weak Soviet Union and paint a picture to European citizens that the Cold War was a struggle between the freedom of Uncle Sam and the tyranny of Communism.
A report published by the United States during the cold war outlined their plan to conduct passive warfare. “Practical and ideological considerations therefore both impel us to the conclusion that we have no choice but to demonstrate the superiority of the idea of freedom by its constructive application, and to attempt to change the world situation by means short of war in such a way as to frustrate the Kremlin design and hasten the decay of the Soviet system” (p. 45)
War may end, but consequence may exist long after the war has ended. Although the cold war ended peacefully more than 25 years ago, tensions still loom in the shadows to this day. Countries still invest heavily in arming themselves with deadly weapons. There is still the ever-present physical threat of nuclear war with an increasing number of small nations nearing nuclear capabilities. It is imperative that the global superpowers attempt to employ these passive avenues of war, whether it be cyber war, a war of words (diplomacy), or like we have seen used successfully in the cold war, a war on culture. In this new world of great weapons, we need great leaders to choose that for the 21st century the term ‘war’ will not be defined by a death toll.


Gabriel, R., & Mertz, K. (1992). A short history of war. Retrieved from http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/gabrmetz/gabr0004.htm
History.com staff. (2009). Cold war history. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/cold-war-history
National Security Council (1994, September). NSC-68: Forging the strategy of containment. National Defense University Press Publications, 45.

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