Explaining War: Some Critical Observations

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This article outlines and examines the ways in which the phenomenon of war has been explained by political scientists and historians of international relations. The discussion is conducted with reference to the following three types of question which are regularly raised in this context: (1) `What conditions must be present for there to be war at all?'; (2) `What conditions are likely to give rise to war?'; and (3) `How did this particular war come about?'. The article ends with a brief reflection on the extent to which answers given to these questions need to be modified as we move our focus away from `old' to `new' wars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-326
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2002


  • causes of war
  • explanation
  • new wars
  • origins of wars
  • War


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