Anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists have always held “to be at war'' is instinctive in all living beings, not excluding the humans.
While academic historians would only enumerate and narrate the numerous wars that have formed part of the progress of history since times immemorial, theorists of state craft and political evolution of societies would actually justify wars and even proclaim that without wars, societies will be static and tend to decay!
Nature and causes
Pacifists, down the years, (from Einstein and Gandhiji, to those in recent times) have not been able to effectively counter this approach. In the 20th century alone, a single generation happened to witness two ghastly World Wars. Since then, mankind has been fortunate to have had no major wars. It is interesting to have a look at the nature of wars since early eras and to know the immediate causes for various wars.
In ancient times, when man was mainly a nomad, leading a precarious existence, given the necessity for settlements and the need to enlarge the size of the settlements to accommodate growing numbers in population, there were bound to be conflicts between groups of people leading to wars and destruction. In brief, it was war for land.
In later epochs, this phenomenon became one between kingdoms and states for acquisition of riches and wealth. It is interesting to note that even after civilized existence of human beings in organised societies became the order of the day, such wars were of frequent occurrence in all parts of the globe.
In recent centuries, however, that imperialist powers have been at aggressive wars in lands far off from their homelands is only too well known. As this trend was somewhat coming to an end, by the 18th century, began the wars for oil. Forcible occupation or colonisation of oil-rich areas, particularly West Asia and the north-eastern part of India are too familiar to be recounted here.
Water, the focus
In continuation with this conflict over materials, an ominous trend emerging is the probable war on water. What with the alarming rise in global warming and harmful climate changes, water may be the focus of wars in the predictable future.
Common to all the above are occasional wars of words also. Even as people are concerned with these disturbing developments, we now hear of “currency wars”! What an expression! A layman would be puzzled as to what this war is about. Simple.
Nations are free to go about changing the exchange rate of their currencies vis-a-vis gold or the dollar. When one nation makes its currency cheaper with reference to the dollar, it becomes more competitive in the international arena of business than before.
Then, other nations also are free to retaliate by the same tactic of ‘devaluation' of their currencies.
Such reactions and retaliations — “a competitive series of undercutting devaluations'' — can prove disastrous to the global economy leading to steep meltdowns and severe economic depressions.
This scenario is referred to as “the threat of a currency war'' by none other than the IMF chief, Mr Straus Khan. We can only pray that this war does not prove too damaging to the world. Can't man endeavour to try to dissociate the notion of ‘war' with periodic differences that may arise between groups of people in various spheres of a civilised society?