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Why Do People Go to War?

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History is full of wars, of people fighting against one another for all kinds of reasons.

Why do people go to war?

We can narrow it down to two reasons:

  • to better their way of life
  • to protect their way of life

That's it. Just two reasons. Here are some examples:

  • People in the ancient Middle East went to war to get more land or better farmland or more water or more resources like iron. The ones who attacked wanted more of something. They were trying to better their way of life. The people who were attacked fought back because they were trying to protect their way of life.
  • During the Persian Wars, the Persian Empire attacked Greece because the Persian government and its people wanted more territory and more food and resources. The Persians also felt that Greek shipping in the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea was interfering with Persian shipping. In this case, the Persians went to war for both reasons. The Greeks, on the other hand, defended their homeland with incredible courage. They knew that if they were conquered, they would have to give up their elected government, their free thinking, and parts of their way of life.
  • The Roman Republic and the Roman Empire went to war quite often, mostly to get new territory or defend territory it had conquered. Overall, it could be said that Rome went to war for both reasons (though usually not at the same time).
  • The Crusades were fought because Christian leaders in Europe wanted to take Jerusalem and the Holy Land back from the Muslims who had conquered it. The Muslims had taken the territory originally for all the familiar reasons: more food and water, more land for their people, etc. And during the Crusades, they defended their newly conquered territory and, by extension, their way of life. The Crusaders, meanwhile, fought for both reasons: They wanted to return the Holy Land to Christian hands so they could know that their shrines were being protected, and they wanted to protect the Holy Land from people they thought were dishonoring the memory of Jerusalem and other holy places.
  • The American people fought the Revolutionary War because they wanted to keep their newly declared independence from Great Britain. They were fighting to protect their way of life.

Such revolutions have been fought throughout history, to better and to protect people's way of life.

In the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, the American people are calling for a new war, a war against terrorism. A huge number of people around the world are fed up with terrorist attacks. People in Northern Ireland and the Middle East are on this list. So are people in Europe and Asia and the Americas.

If the United States and its allies do end up going to war against terrorists, it will be to protect their way of life. If terrorists can strike anywhere at any time, then people will constantly live in fear of attack. This is the case now in Northern Ireland, Israel, Palestinian territory, and other places all over the world. Many of these people are already at war against terrorists. They certainly know the horrors of terrorist attacks and of war.

People who would join the war against terrorism would be seeking to make their life better by removing a giant source of fear and worry.

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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