On War: Concepts, Definitions, Data - A Review of the Macroquantitative Research Literature up to 1980

by Johan M.G. van der Dennen, University of Groningen, the Netherlands


1.1 Introduction

Even casual inspection of the literature reveals the following, incomplete, list of 'war' terms: limited war and total (or all-out) war, cold war and hot war, local war and world war, controlled and uncontrolled war, accidental war and premeditated war, conventional and nuclear war, declared and undeclared war, aggressive or offensive war and defensive war, general war and proxy war, international war and civil war, tribal and civilized war, preventive or pre-emptive war, protracted war, absolute war, war of liberation, war of conquest, war of commerce, war of plunder, revolutionary war, political war, economic war, social war, imperialist war, guerilla war, psychological war, strategic war, counter-insurgency war, dynastic war, monarchical war, ritual war, agonistic war, sacred war, instrumental war, genocidal war.
Much of the complexity stems from the fact that the epithets refer to different aspects of, and perspectives on, war: e.g. war as condition, techniques of warfare, alleged motives and/or objectives of war, or assumptions about belligerent behavior and the causes (causative factors, determinants, conditions, etc.) of war (cf. Grieves 1977).
War is a species in the genus of violence; more specifically it is collective, direct, manifest, personal, intentional, organized, institutionalized, instrumental, sanctioned, and sometimes ritualized and regulated, violence. These distinguishing features and dimensional delineations are not limitative. It should be perfectly clear, however, that war, or the state of belligerence, is a very special category of violence (van der Dennen, 1977).
Some of the listed war terms reflect concern for attitudes and behaviour, linked with assumptions about the cause of war. The term 'imperialist war' reflects both an attitude about the root causes of the war and an assumption about which States are guilty of having caused it. Also, much of the 'nature of war' is found not on the battlefield, but in the hostile behaviour and attitudes that characterize a state's foreign policy. Q. Wright (1942; 1965) calls attention to the discussion of this psychological aspect of war in Hobbes' Leviathan where the oscillations of war and peace are compared to the weather:

As the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain, but in an inclination thereto of many days together; so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. (Hobbes, 1651)

Hobbes' view raises an interesting question for modern students. Can peace be defined simply as the absence of war (using 'war' in the sense of actual military combat) (Grieves, 1977)?

1.2 Formal and material distinction of peace and war

The important point is that peace and war as facts differ formally rather than materially, and are distinguishable by their locus and implements rather than by their intrinsic qualities as human behavior. Peace, it would appear, is the aggregation of chronic, diffuse, unorganized domestic conflicts: war is conflict, acute, organized, unified and concentrated at the peripheries of a society's habitat. (Kallen, 1939)

War and peace differ not in the goals pursued, only in the means used to attain them. (Barbera, 1973)

Clausewitz's formula - war is the continuation of policy by other means - has been replaced by its opposite: policy is the continuation of war by other means. But these two formulas are, formally, equivalent. They both express the continuity of competition and the use of alternately violent and non-violent means towards ends which do not differ in essence. (Aron, 1966)

... the nature of war itself has changed. In particular there is no longer a dividing line between a state of peace and a state of war. (Eccles, 1965)

Behind both phenomena, war and peace, lies the same dimension of power. (Barbera, 1973)

Many political realists point out that the common basis of policy in both peace and war, namely the quest for power, makes them two inseparable parts of the same social activity. Blainey (1973) contends that the causes of war and peace dovetail into one another: "War and peace are not separate compartments. Peace depends on threats and force; often peace is the crystallization of past force." Or formulated most succinctly: "In a system of power politics, there is no difference in kind between peace and war". (Schwartzenberger, 1950)

War is a means of achieving an end, a weapon which can be used for good or for bad purposes. Some of these purposes for which war has been used have been accepted by humanity as worthwhile ends: indeed, war performs functions which are essential in any human society. It has been used to settle disputes, to uphold rights, to remedy wrongs: and these are surely functions which must be served... One may say, without exaggeration, that no more stupid, brutal, wasteful or unfair method could ever have been imagined for such purposes, but this does not alter the situation. (Eagleton, 1948)

These formulations are reminiscent of Ambrose Bierce's sardonic definition of "peace" as: "a period of cheating between two periods of fighting" (Devil's Dictionary), or Orwell's famous dictum from "1984": "Peace is War".
Diametrically opposed to the vista of peace and war as a bipolar continuum is the view of a sharp and clear-cut borderline existing between the two conditions, thus implying a boundary-transgression in the transition from one state of affairs to the other. Brodie (1973), for example, states:

Although war represents human violence in its most intensive form, it is not simply human violence. It is something else besides, something with a distinctive and quite special configuration. The characteristics of this configuration cover a wide variety of phenomena, including the following: First, wars have tended, since antiquity, to have a clear and sharp beginning and an equally clear and sharp ending; and various ceremonials have been involved both in the initiation and the termination of war.
The most outspoken advocate, perhaps, of this view is Wells (1967), who succinctly affirms: "Notions of some limbo between war and peace are either contradictory or unintelligible".
Or, as it was stated in classical times: "Inter bellum et pacem nihil medium".

1.3 The socio-political definition of war

According to international law, war, in principle, can only take place between sovereign political entities, that is, States. War is thus a means for resolving differences between units of the highest order of political organization. The majority of those who have been concerned with war as a socio-political phenomenon have also adopted as their basic premise that there is a fundamental difference between domestic conflicts, for which there are normally mechanisms for peaceful resolution, and international conflicts, which occur in a state of anarchy. Wars have been seen to involve directly State institutions, such as the foreign office and the armed forces. Since war is put in an international context, the stakes of war may be the life and death of States (Aron, 1966).
This general outlook on war as an international or inter-State phenomenon has been shared by many students, regardless of their professional background as political scientists, historians, sociologists, psychologists or military analysts. The school of political realism maintains that nation-States can only realize their national interests by demonstrating their willingness to fight and by making use of wars of various degrees of magnitude as an instrument of national policy to achieve legitimate ends (Lider, 1977; Nobel, 1977).
Von Clausewitz (1911) defined war as "an act of violence intended to compel our opponents to fulfil our will", and elsewhere he emphasized the continuity of violence with other political methods: "War is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse, with an admixture of other means."
Sorel (1912) defined war as a "political act by means of which States, unable to adjust a dispute regarding their obligations, rights or interests, resort to armed force to decide which is the stronger and may therefore impose its will on the other".
Kallen (1939) seems to favour a political definition of war when he writes: "If war may be defined as an armed contest between two or more sovereign institutions employing organized military forces in the pursuit of specific ends, the significant term in the definition is `organ ized'." He further adds that this organization of the contending armed forces extends back behind the battle lines and tends in modern wars to embrace all civilian activities, such as the industrial, productive, and commercial, and also the social interests and individual attitudes.
Kallen (1939) criticizes von Clausewitz' (1911) definition of war as "an act of violence for the purpose of compelling the enemy to do what we will" as too general and indefinite. He says that "this definition might apply also to much that is called peace, particularly in sport, business and finance. It might apply to anybody's act of violence, whenever it occurs. As limited to war, it applies to pre-Napoleonic and pre-industrial times and intentions, when war was a castle enterprise, and a gentleman's game".
A. Johnson (1935) defines war as "armed conflict between population groups conceived of as organic unities, such as races or tribes, states or lesser geographic units, religious or political parties, economic classes". This definition may, according to Bernard (1944), be regarded as approximately sociological because it does not limit the armed conflict to political units but includes any type of population units which is capable of resorting to arms as a method of settling disputes. Perhaps the definition is too general, since it does not specify the duration of the conflict or the magnitude of the conflicting parties. As it stands this definition could be made to include riots.
B. Russell's ( 1916) definition of war as "conflict between two groups, each of which attempts to kill and maim as many as possible of the other group in order to achieve some object which it desires" is even more general and uncritically inclusive. Russell states the object for which men fight as "generally power or wealth".
Wallace (1968) considers war to be "the sanctioned use of lethal weapons by members of one society against members of another. It is carried out by trained persons working in teams that are directed by a separate policy-making group and supported in various ways by the non-combatant population".
Ashworth (1968): "Mass or total war may be defined as a type of armed conflict between large nation-States in which populations and resources are rationally and extensively organized for conquest. It is important to note that populations are mobilized both in terms of activities and psychological states: the former implies comprehensive military and civilian conscription; the latter implies the systematic development of belligerent and hostile attitudes towards the enemy among all or most of the population."
Deutsch and Senghaas (1971): "By `war' we mean actual large-scale organized violence, prepared and maintained by the compulsion and legitimacy claims of a State and its government, and directed against another State or quasi-State, i.e. a relatively comparable political organization".
Barringer (1972) considers war to be "one possible mode of policy activity aimed at effectively and favourably resolving an ongoing conflict of interests. In this sense war is but one of numerous conflict procedures, others being negotiation, conciliation, mediation, arbitration, and adjudication. It is merely a particular subset of the larger set of all conflict modes, encompassing all the socially (if not legally) recognized situations in which armed hostilities of considerable magnitude are conducted on a systematic and continuing basis by the armed forces of two or more political factions, organizations, nations, governments, or States. Because the term `war' carries legal implications and connotations that no political body cares any longer to suffer or risk publicly, the de facto situation of war will be referred to as `hostilities'.
Bernard (1944) attempts an all-purpose definition of war which is neither so general that it is indefinite and vague nor so detailed that it is confusing. It may be stated as follows: "War is organized continuous conflict of a transient character between or among collectivities of any sort capable of arming and organizing themselves for violent struggle carried on by armies in the field (or naval units on water) and supported by civil or incompletely militarized populations back of the battle areas constituted for the pursuit of some fairly well-defined public or quasipublic objective."
This objective is of course not always defined to the satisfaction of all concerned and it is liable to change according to circumstances during the continuance of the struggle. But upon the popular understanding of these objectives depends in large measure the degree and loyalty of the people's support. While the war is between or among organized groups or collectivities, the fact of organization implies leadership (generals, military staffs, civilian economic, political and moral organizers and leaders) and collective effort, both military and civilian. The need for discipline and coordination also implies obvious regimentation within the army and of the belligerent populations as wholes, as well as more subtle manipulation of the psychological and social factors contributing to both military and civilian morale (Bernard, 1944).
Beer (1974) presents a minimum definition of war as "the presence of direct international violence".
Crew (1952) defines war "as organized, intraspecific conflict, in which force, coercion is displayed".
Similar concise "political" definitions are presented by White (1949), Malinowski (1936; 1941), Mead (1964), Bouthoul (1959; 1962), Sokol (1961), Nieburg (1963), Valkenburgh (1964), Withey and Katz (1965), Plano and Olton (1969), van Doorn and Hendrix (1970), Czempiel (1971), Krippendorff (1971), Zsifkovits (1973), Barbera (1973), Harrison (1973), Van den Berghe (1978), The Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Oxford Dictionary, etc.
Bozeman (1976) has argued that the term "international war" no longer refers exclusively to violent conflicts between States. Rather, he says,

"It now stands also for a broad spectrum of armed belligerence within the State, ranging from sporadic urban guerilla activities to civil wars, wars of liberation and secession, insurrections and other revolutionary uprisings, many of which are initiated and maintained in behalf of causes espoused by foreign principals. Moreover, this interpenetration of the domestic and foreign environments effaces altogether the conventionally accepted lines between legitimate and illegitimate force, and puts in question the theoretically established distinctions between war and peace. These interlocking conditions support the conclusion that the State, having forfeited important controlling functions customarily ascribed to it in world affairs, can no longer be regarded as a reliable medium for realistic differentiation among types of war and between the conditions of war and peace.
Next, the erosion of the State as the fundamental, shared norm of political organization, together with general acquiescence in the coexistence of States and anti-State bodies as equal actors in foreign policy arenas, has gradually but ineluctably led also to the devaluation of the two State-based superstructures that provide the context for official foreign relations: (1) the world society of sovereign, equal States and (2) the law of nations, which stipulates the rights and obligations of these States".

Bozeman proposes civilization as an alternative:

"Today, several factors combine in support of civilization as the proper focal point of war research. As preceding comments on the variegated forms of war and violence throughout the modern world have suggested, the Occidental model of the State has ceased to be a reliable indicator or measure of such phenomena as international war and internal war. Indeed, a survey of actually functioning power centres makes it doubtful whether one can still legitimately view the nation-State as the politically controlling, and hence unifying, organ izational norm in international relations. Observations such as these, together with reflections on the conspicuous failure of recent war-related policies of the United States, imply rather that we have entered an era in which the interacting, independent units are so disparate that references to an "international order" are invalid. These symptoms of the erosion of the State seem to make it mandatory that we find other or additional ways to determine the configuration of an alien society.
Civilization recommends itself in this respect because it is more comprehensive as an ordering concept than the State: it can cover a host of political formations - armed bands, liberation fronts or empires; anarchies or despotisms; transterritorial commonwealths of commodity producers, financiers or religionists; as well as multinational political parties. Next, also in contrast to the State, a civilization is more enduring in time, even as it is usually less precisely defined in space. And finally, civilization is today a more neutral reference than the State because, contrary to the latter, it is not associated with typically Occidental norms and values. (Bozeman, 1976)

1.4 Quantitative criteria in the definition of war

If we are to take this view that war is simply one form of political intercourse, how do we know when the line dividing nonviolent conflict from violence has been meaningfully crossed? We probably will not know because of the subtle shades of progression, but following the Clausewitz line of thinking, perhaps the dividing line is immaterial, as war is ultimately a question of political attitude and subject to all the vagaries of time and place. One interesting attempt to fix the threshold quantitatively was made by Richardson (1960) who tried to arrange all "deadly quarrels" on a continuum of violent conflict, ranging from one killed (murder) to ten million killed (Second World War). The threshold of war was crossed when deaths went over 1000.
Singer and Small (1972) and Deutsch and Senghaas (1973) call "war" any series of events that meets the following three criteria:

(1) Size: it results in at least 1000 battle deaths (not counting, therefore, the indirect victims through famine, lack of shelter, and disease).
(2) Preparation: it has been prepared in advance , and/or is being maintained, by large-scale social organizations through such means as the recruitment, training and deployment of troops the acquisition, storage and distribution of arms and ammunition, the making of specific war plans and the like, and
(3) Legitimation: it is being legitimized by an established governmental or quasi-governmental organization, so that large-scale killing is viewed not as a crime but as a duty.

The definition just given would exclude small incidents among organized forces, large but unorganized, poorly legitimated and transitory riots. It would include, however, many large and sustained civil wars, since the parties to such wars tend to assume quasi-governmental functions in preparing, maintaining, organizing, and legitimating the process of large-scale killing.
While qualification is helpful in standardization, the cut-off points for various categories are likely to remain highly arbitrary. Besides, the basis for quantification (in this case deaths) may not take into account other equally significant dimensions of the use of force. Economic war or psychological war may, for example, produce drastic and far-reaching political and military consequences not measurable by battlefield casualties (Grieves, 1977).

1.5 The judicial conception of war

Closely related to a political definition of war is the judicial conception. Q. Wright (1942; 1965) describes war as "a legal condition which equally permits two or more hostile groups to carry on a conflict by armed force". The Marqués de Olivert is quoted as declaring that "war is a litigation or suit (litigio) between nations that defend their rights, in which force is the judge and victory is the judicial award". This analogical and figurative characterization of war is perhaps more literary than factual (Bernard, 1944).
Eagleton (1933), after quoting numerous legal definitions of war from Cicero to the present, comes to the conclusion that "the preceding discussion leaves one with a great deal of uncertainty as to the meaning of war... [and that] to define war [juridically]... would present difficulties. Furthermore, it is desirable to eliminate the word, with all its unpleasant psychology, from the vocabulary of international affairs".
Q. Wright (1926) defined war in the legal sense as "a condition or period of time in which special rules permitting and regulating violence between governments prevail, or a procedure of regulated violence by which disputes between government are settled", and war in the material sense as "an act or a series of acts of violence by one government against another, or a dispute between governments carried on by violence".
In his classic "A Study of War" (Q. Wright, 1942; 1965) war in the broadest sense was defined as "a violent contact of distinct but similar entities. In this sense a collision of stars, a fight between a lion and a tiger, a battle between two primitive tribes, and hostilities between two modern nations would all be war". He therefore proposes a narrower definition: "the legal condition which equally permits two or more hostile groups to carry on a conflict by armed force". He also noted the convergence with the traditional legal concept of war:

International lawyers and diplomats have usually followed Grotius' conception of war as "the condition of those contending by force as such", though they have often excluded from the conception duels between individuals and insurrections, aggressions, or other conditions of violent contention between juridical unequals. Furthermore they have insisted that "force" refers to military and naval activities, that is, to "armed forces", thus excluding from the definition contentions involving only moral, legal, or economic force. With these refinements, the legal concept of war becomes equivalent to that adopted here.

Kelsen (1942) has distinguished two basic modern interpretations of war, and in each of them it is assumed that the existence of war is a matter for objective determination. His concern is with the legal status of war. According to the interpretation war is neither a delict nor a sanction. It is not a delict because war is not forbidden by any general international law. It followed, thus, that any State could war against any other State without violating any law. Obviously no State would violate its own laws in going to war, and, in the absence of international law forbidding war, there could be no question of a delict. On the other hand, war cannot be a sanction either, since there is no international law authorizing war. While every State authorizes its own wars and condemns its enemies, this hardly constitutes a legal state of affairs. War is, thus, beyond legal praise or blame.
The other position held that there was a general international law forbidding war on principle, except where an illegal act, a delict, had been committed. On this account war is either blameworthy, because it is a delict, or praiseworthy because it is a sanction.
In summing up this matter of the legal definition of war, Grob (1949) concluded that "there can be no such notion as war in the legal sense". And Wells (1967) adds: "If there were some sense in the expression 'legal war', the existence of some international body which assigned the criterion for legality would at the same time make the expression obtiose or contradictory".

1.6 The legal definition of war

Those who stress the legal aspects of war maintain that a belligerent status implies sovereignty. A struggle can be considered a war only if the contenders are sovereign political units (tribes, fiefs, empires, nation-states, etc.). A rebellion against a sovereign authority may assume the character of a war, an internal one, only if the rebellious party succeeds in establishing a structure for asserting the sovereign power it claims. A certain amount of ambiguity is involved, however, in defining the warring parties as both sovereign and political. The point can be illustrated in the work of Quincy Wright.
In "A Study of War" Q. Wright (1942; 1965) tries to combine the legal, sociological, military, and psychological views of war and offer a synthesis. The resulting definition holds that war is a state of law and a form of conflict involving a high degree of legal equality, of hostility, and of violence in the relations of organized human groups; in a simpler wording: war is the legal condition which equally permits two or more hostile groups to carry on a conflict by armed force. Similar definitions are presented at other points in his study. In one, he asserts that war may be regarded "from the standpoint of each belligerent" as an extreme intensification of military activity, psychological tension, legal power, and social integration; and "from the standpoint of all belligerents" as an extreme intensification of simultaneous conflicts of armed forces, popular feelings, jural dogmas, and national cultures; he also repeats here the definition of war as a legal condition (p. 698). In another place he writes that war is at the same time an exceptional legal condition, a phenomenon of intergroup social psychology, a species of conflict and a species of violence (p. 700). In all three definitions, each of the four viewpoints is represented, but prominence is given to the legal aspect.
In a later study (Q. Wright, 1955), he distinguishes between "war in the legal sense" and "war in the material sense". The legal conception, which he calls the narrower of the two, describes situations in which the participating groups are equally permitted to combat each other with the use of armed force. If war is seen in a material sense as armed struggle of considerable magnitude without regard to the legal status of the contenders, then, Wright concludes, "war has usually been employed by States as a method of international politics; it has also been employed by insurgents and rebels to gain independence, by governments to suppress domestic and colonial revolts, and by international organizations to suppress aggression". This is a description of war as a political instrument. A general definition of war has been added: "War is the art of organizing and employing armed force to accomplish the purpose of a group". In an article (Q. Wright, 1968), however, he once more repeats the assumption of the primacy of the legal concept of war.
It may be suggested (Lider, 1977) that the ambiguity of Wright's position derives from his combining the constituent elements of war as a social phenomenon (war as a phenomenon of intergroup psychology, as a species of conflict, or a species of violence) with certain legal regulations to which war was submitted as it became institutionalized (cf. Kotzsch, 1956). The general impression that remains from his very valuable contribution to the study of war is nevertheless that he was most concerned with what legal conditions had to be met before an armed conflict could be called war.
In a more obvious legal approach, Reves (1945) proposes the "social law" that war, which he defines as fighting between units of equal sovereignty, takes place whenever and wherever such units come into contact: the corollary to this view is that war ceases the moment sover eign power is transferred from the fighting equal units to a larger or higher unit. His conclusion is that the problem of the transfer of sovereignty is the sole cause and object of war.
This is surely an excellent example of the dangers of legalism. Reves's definition of war is so narrow that it excludes the great majority of, what are commonly called, wars. Moreover, his contention that the transfer of sovereignty to a higher unit is the only result of each war is clearly invalidated by any fair test. His thesis may imply that the only way war can be prevented is by merging nations into a world-State, the single and highest sovereign power (Lider, 1977).
A legal definition of war is also presented by Stone (1959): "War is a relation of one or more governments to at least one other government, in which at least one of such governments no longer permits its relations with the others to be governed by the laws of peace".
More extended and less explicitly legal is Sorokin's (1937) concept of war as "the breakdown of the crystallized system of relationships" between the States; and Elliott and Merrill's (1961) "the formal disruption of the relationships that bind nations together in (uneasy) peacetime harmony".
Also the following two definitions seem to imply a judicial perspective (as a disruption of a normal, rule-governed, more or less peaceful state of affairs):
Fried (1967) defined war as "the... condition which... permits two or more hostile groups to carry on a conflict by armed means".
E.O. Wilson (1978): "War can be defined as the violent rupture of the intricate and powerful fabric of the territorial taboos observed by social groups".
With minor variants, the most current legal definition of war is the following: War is "ein zwischenstaatlicher Gewaltzustand zwischen zwei oder mehreren Staaten, unter Abbruch der friedlichen Beziehungen" (Menzel, 1959; Verdrosz, 1964). Or, more comprehensive still: "krieg ist ein völkerrechtlicher Gewaltzustand unter Abruch der diplomatischen Beziehungen" (Zsifkovits, 1973).

1.7 Multifactoriality of war causation

War as a complex multi-dimensional social phenomenon has so many sources and causes that no theory of a single cause can explain its nature. One cannot find a single necessary condition and a single sufficient condition; one can only try to find sources, factors, conditions important for the occurrence of war (R.M. Williams, 1972). "No major conflict has ever had one simple or single cause that has been adduced" (Crawford in Wallace, 1957). "No two wars will manifest precisely the same configuration of causal variables" (Corning, 1973). "Every war is fought for more than one motive, spurious or real, appreciated or unrealized" (Turney-High, 1949). "No two wars take the same form" because of the variety of military-technical correlates (Kingston-McCloughry, 1957). "Why wars take place is not at all clear... even more problematic is why a given war occurs between the given States at a given time" (Levi, 1974). "... any theory of the causes of war in general or of any war in particular that is not inherently eclectic and comprehensive, i.e. which does not take into account at the outset the relevance of all sorts of diverse factors, is bound for that very reason to be wrong" (Brodie, 1974). Similar "agnostic" visions may be found in the works of Rapaport and Aron.
In recent years, many attempts have been made to place war in some other perspective in which the State as actor is not the only unit of analysis. One approach has been to choose another main actor, for example, the system (e.g. Midlarsky, 1975). Another has been to achieve a synthesis by combining kinds of actors- men, State, and the international system (e.g. Waltz, 1959) - or by including internal wars as part of a synthetic concept of war (e.g. Rosenau, 1969).
One of the most important challenges to the concept of the State as an actor has come from the contention that the behaviour of States is really the behaviour of the men who act in the name of the State. Those who have power may not represent the national interests but rather the interests of those groups whose views the decision-makers consider relevant. The role that interest-groups have in the making of foreign policy of developed countries is a subject of recurrent interest. Three different groups have been indicated. The first group is big business which it is maintained, gains by war through the close ties between business magnates and political leaders. Secondly, special interest has been devoted to the arms industry, which through its direct contact with military establishment constitutes an important lobby. The literature concerning the activity of the "merchants of death" or the "military-industrial complex", as this combination is called, is quite large. Finally, in some analyses those who carry out the foreign policy are mentioned as having many opportunities to influence it, and as being liable to act in the interests of the ruling class. Moreover, it has been suggested that the rules by which international diplomacy is carried out give diplomats an interest in creating tensions, crises, and even war.
On the other hand, some scholars deny that the influence of interest groups, although important, is decisive for the explanation of war (e.g. Deutsch, 1966).

1.8 Typologies of war

Q. Wright (1942; 1965) has developed a typology of war which distinguishes among four categories: (1) the civil war, which takes place within the boundaries of a sovereign nation; (2) the balance of power war, in which members of a State system are at war among themselves; (3) the defensive war, which acts to guard a civilization against the intrusions of an alien culture; and (4) the imperial war, in which one civilization attempts to expand at the expense of another.
In this set of distinctions, the boundary conditions of the conflict appear to be the primary criteria of classification. Whether a war is categorized as an imperial or civil war apparently depends upon the extent to which the conflict is contained within, or extended beyond, certain boundaries, implying the presence of both structural differentiation and participation (Midlarsky, 1975).
Singer, Small and Kraft (1965) follow Wright's classification in distinguishing among civil, colonial and international wars, but with a more focused emphasis in that wars between civilizations are not explicitly introduced.
Luard (1968) introduces a somewhat different perspective in his treatment of war; he places greater emphasis on the motives of nation-States in their initation of war, although implicit in these reasons for expansion are the notions of complexity and participation. Luard divides "Wars of Aggression" into four categories. Expanive wars are defined as those concerned with the "conquest of foreign territories not previously controlled". The Japanese invasions of Manchuria and China are examples of this type, as are the German and Soviet invasions of various European countries in the interwar period. Irredentist wars are, according to Luard, "directed against territories inhabited mainly by people of the same race as the conquerors". The Nazi occupations of Austria and the Sudetenland belong in this category. Strategic wars, as a third category, may be motivated by a desire on the part of a nation to enhance its logistic and military position vis-à-vis some real or imagined threat. The Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939 may have been induced by such a perceived threat, and the Israeli participation in the Suez campaign might have been similarly motivated. Finally, Luard speaks of coercive wars as those which entail the placing of constraints on the operations of a sovereign government. Examples of this type provided by Luard are the Arab invasion of Israel in 1948 and the Soviet repression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956.
Midlarsky (1975) developed a classification of wars, based on a combination of the premises of rank order and scope, along with the explicit use of the variables "structural differentiation" and "participation". In addition, two variables specific to political violence are included. These are the intensity of violence in the form of the number killed, and duration, as a temporal indicator. Finally, the motivation of actors is taken into account.
Perhaps it is only when human beings clash over important abstractions and modes of civilization that the most widespread and intense wars occur, just as the bloodiest civil wars are fought over the "appropriate" forms of domestic socio-political relationships. In any event, four categories are posited for the occurrence of international warfare. These form a rank-ordered set in which each element in a lower rank also is found at all levels above it.
Midlarsky (1975) points to certain similarities between his categorization and those developed for internal violence. For example, Rosenau (1964) lists three types of internal war, "Personnel" wars, seen as fought only over the issues as who is to occupy the roles of government (as in many Latin American coups); "Authority" wars, seen as fought in addition over the arrangements for occupancy of these roles (such as electoral methods or opportunities for indigenous as opposed to colonial persons to occupy them) (e.g. the struggle in Rhodesia); and "Structural" wars, seen as fought over the social and economic structure of the society as well as the other two issues (as in the French or Russian revolutions, or the Spanish Civil War).
Lasswell and Kaplan (1950) made the same distinction fourteen years earlier, naming the three types Palace, Political, and Social Revolutions, while Huntington (1962) distinguished Governmental, Reform and Revolutionary Coups in essentially the same way.

TABLE 1: Varieties of War (after Midlarsky, 1975)
Type of War Structural differentiation (a)* Participation (b) War duration No. killed Motivation of at least one set of protagonists
Normative High High Long Very high Fundamental change in the policy framework within nations and within the international system
Coercive Moderate Generally moderate Moderate High Fundamental change in the policy framework within nations and within a particular region
Regional Low to moderate Generally moderate Moderate Low to moderate Moderate changes within a regional policy framework
Territorial Very low Limited to two Short to moderate Low to moderate Territorial change

(a) Alliances and/or military-industrial organization
(b) Protagonists and size of armies