Nature of War Essay

Submitted By tzieg33
Words: 1427
Pages: 6

The first instance of war between humans predates recorded history by approximately 7,000 years. Little is known about war in that time aside from some of the minimal evidence that we have of it. I will seek to explore the reasons why man goes to war, and how that has evolved over time and with different peoples. Even though war is destructive and most times for selfish motives, the nature of warfare changed from basic survival to a means to spread ideals and civilization. Early human societies fought for control over food or resources while more recent groups such as the Roman or Islamic civilizations spread ideals and advancements.
The very earliest of man engaged in warfare in order to increase his chances of survival and eliminate enemies and competition. Soon after man began to create permanent settlements and grow his own food and raise animals, people sought to take that from him. Nomadic tribes of raiders were a constant threat not only to the food stock piles, but also to the lives of city inhabitants (Mahdavi, 2012). One of the earliest such battles took place in the city of Jericho, where archeologists have uncovered physical evidence of city defenses, namely the fifteen foot high by four foot thick mud and brick wall used to protect inhabitants from marauders. The common theme behind the earliest wars was very simple, survival. Whether they went to war to protect themselves from invaders, to overtake the most ideal territory in order to support themselves, or to eliminate competition for limited resources, the bottom line was essentially to better their chance of survival. It has even been suggested that the first humans used cannibalism as a way of lowering the population of enemies and increasing the food supply. Thus it would simultaneously decrease enemy populations and increase the ability to support a larger population themselves (Otterbein, 2011). After the creation of writing around 3200 BC, we are left with the first record of a war, which was fought by the Sumerians and Elamites. The Sumerian ruler, Sargon the Great, united area settlements with the aim of subduing and or expelling the Elamites from the region. According to records, the Elamites initially resisted, but eventually were rolled over by Sargon’s force (Mallet, 2012). A detailed account of this battle is left to us in a pictorial carved stone tablet. We do gain some insight into the evolution of war at this time. The carving shows helmeted and armored soldiers carrying spears marching in battle formations. At the front of the battle they were led by a figure in a chariot. Having a uniform army with the same weaponry also suggests a new development, a standing army. A standing army is a permanent military force and is better trained. They employ full time career soldiers that do not disband during peacetime and require constant upkeep. This is a shift away from going to war simply to survive. While a standing army can certainly exist for defensive purposes, it requires a good deal of upkeep and support from the rest of the population. Taxes must be levied in order to feed and equip them. In this aspect a standing army is a burden on the population. Standing armies have another purpose as well, expansion. Expansion surpasses just simple survival. Regardless of motive, expanding ones borders is an offensive act. This is not like earlier offensive wars where tribes would go on raids to take food or weaken enemies, but rather seeking to dominate or subdue other populations. The next development in the nature and technology of warfare centers around the great Islamic dynasties. According to classic Islamic law, Islamic nations are to be directed and lead by the Imam or caliph to spread the word of Islam to non believers. This is a sacred duty to all Muslims, and is to be accomplished by peaceful means if possible, but through the use of force and warfare when necessary. The end goal of this is that Sharia, or