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War and Peace, Essay Example

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Essay

Throughout history, we have seen many examples of war time. According to Richard K. Betts in “Conflict After the Cold War”, people have many different views of war and peace and what they could mean for the stability of our world. In this book, John J. Mearsheimer offers a pessimistic view of the Cold War; this time period is an excellent example of the contrasting periods of time we consider to be “war” and “peace”. The Cold War was not fought with weapons; the preferred method was technological battles and hostility. Since no one technically fought one another during the Cold War, then how should be define war? War is conventionally thought of as purposeful actions that result in deaths to resolve some kind of conflict. By default “peace time” occurs when people are not physically fighting for these reasons. By this definition then, should we then consider Cold War to be a war?

Ultimately, it may be pointless to define “peace” or “war”. Even during periods of time in which two countries are not physically engaged in battle with one another, they still may have disagreements that lead to tension; therefore, peace and war are not black and white terms and cannot exist completely independently of one another. In “Militarist Peace in South America: Conditions for War and Peace”, Felix E. Martin exemplifies this. Although many countries in South America remained to live in peace despite constant threats of interstate war of 1935, it is important to consider whether these countries are truly living in peace. The political turmoil and tension that exists amongst these many groups could be hardly called peace because they constantly live in fear of unrest and potential physical conflict. Therefore, even in times of “peace” we see that most countries lie in a state that is somewhat of a grey area; true peace cannot exist as long as there is some threat of war.

Although this example shows that true peace cannot really exist, many researchers have attempted to define it as an ideal. In “Violence, Peace, and Peace Research”, Johan Galtung defines peace as verbally defined social goals that the majority agree upon. A second definition of peace that he uses is consistent with the one I mentioned earlier, the idea that peace is the absence of violence. It is interesting that while almost all of the countries on this planet agree on the social goals of “peace”, that conflict continues. It is also interesting to note that will peace is the “absence of violence”, the term “violence” itself is vaguely defined. Whether the word means physical violence or harmful actions is independently and differently interpreted by many groups of people.

While I believe that we cannot truly define peace, or war for that matter, because the two are complicated concepts, we do gain many things by attempting to understand their meaning. For example, an attempt to analyze what peace truly is forces us to analyze the current and historical conflicts that have occurred on this planet; it makes us think of what time periods we should consider to be peaceful and which we should consider wartime. Wartime events are more apparent when there is physical violence, but this definition weakens when there is general aggression. The analysis of the definition of war and peace allows us to consider that there is never truly peace; throughout human history, there is always some form of struggle or conflict. While this is a depressing fact, the realization that there is no true peace will help us grow as a people if this is an ideal we all want to strive to achieve.

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