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Old 09-19-2014   #1
TheCurmudgeon
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Default War as a natural event - Human Terrain Aplications

I throw this out for general consideration. We define war as a political act, but war can exist without politics, at least in our nearest evolutionary relatives.

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Of all of the world's species, humans and chimpanzees are some of the only species to coordinate attacks on their own members. Since Jane Goodall introduced lethal inter-community killings, primatologists have debated the concept of warfare in this genus. New research from an international coalition of ape researchers has shed new light on the subject, suggesting that human encroachment and interference is not, as previous researchers have claimed, an influential predictor of chimp-on-chimp aggression.
When we look at insurgency do we place too much emphasis on the political players and not enough on the aspects of society that create the conditions for war.

Moderator - I am sure we touched on this before, but I did not find it.
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Old 09-19-2014   #2
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Originally Posted by TC
When we look at insurgency do we place too much emphasis on the political players and not enough on the aspects of society that create the conditions for war
You've actually brought up two different theories of war - the first, according to the article, is an inherent or 'natural' compulsion for conflict. As far as human conflicts are concerned, this line of theory is not widely accepted. Aggression exists in (nearly) all cultures but not organized warfare. In the field of political science, this is really the originating position of classical realists (humans are essentially selfish and conflictive).

This second school of thought is structural/social, which is what you referred to in your quoted statement but which is actually different from the school of thought alluded to by your article. This is a substantial field in academia analyzed from numerous points of view - economic, demographic, etc. But in this school of thought war is far from a 'natural event'; it's a product generated, sometimes deliberately, by the way power (however defined) is structured locally, regionally, internationally. See John Galtung and 'structural violence' for a sociological approach (systems deny people access to their basic needs). World systems theory by Wallerstein is a political science approach (strong states dominant weak states). Marxism is of course an economic approach (the capitalist class exploits the labor of the working class). The contradictions in the system generates conflict - resolving the contradiction resolves the conflict produced by it.

Developing a useful systems approach to resolving conflict is probably beyond any organization that insists in writing its manuals at a high school reading level. But if we look at a state as a socio-political system, in theory we can start identifying the specific levers and mechanisms of power within that system as well as the contradictions that generate conflict. Up until recent, the development of political and social institutions was the byproduct of internal conflicts (violent and non-violent) rather than a deliberative and comprehensive process. Ultimately, such work eventually becomes a conflict about principles and values (i.e. what is the proper role of government?) rather than a discussion of practical policies with measurable effects on desired outcomes.

And so to answer your question - we do not place any meaningful deliberative effort on addressing the 'conditions for war'; in part, I think, because this also challenges some of our own deeply held principles we take for granted.
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Old 09-20-2014   #3
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And so to answer your question - we do not place any meaningful deliberative effort on addressing the 'conditions for war'; in part, I think, because this also challenges some of our own deeply held principles we take for granted.
Sadly, I think you have identified the crux of the problem.
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Old 09-21-2014   #4
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Sadly, I think you have identified the crux of the problem.
I don't think there's an easy fix to this problem since the nature of democratic governance and civilian oversight give significant opportunity for the values and principles of each administration and senior leaders to influence strategy.
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Old 09-21-2014   #5
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Default Old or new themes raised?

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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
I throw this out for general consideration. We define war as a political act, but war can exist without politics, at least in our nearest evolutionary relatives.

When we look at insurgency do we place too much emphasis on the political players and not enough on the aspects of society that create the conditions for war.

Moderator - I am sure we touched on this before, but I did not find it.
There is a large thread 'Human Terrain & Anthropology' dating back to 2007, with 990 posts and 161k views. Your themes may have appeared there:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=4093

Anyway no harm in raising these points here.
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