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What Is War and Why Do We Study It?

It is hard to overstate the importance of studying war, especially because, as noted political scientist Karl W. Deutsch concluded, “Nothing less than this—the understanding of war and the possible ways to its abolition—is on the agenda of our time.”1 War is an activity that has widespread ramifications, touching virtually every aspect of human life in one way or another; yet despite the horrendous loss of life caused by war and the monumental costs it incurs, the practice of war has endured. Views on war range from overwhelmingly negative—as a problem to be solved, an anachronism to be abolished, or a crime to be punished—to enthusiastically supportive, as bringing forth the best in human behavior, ...

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