How Wars Start: Capabilities, War Aims, Perceptions

  • Robert E. Harkavy
  • Stephanie G. Neuman


Generally speaking, or historically speaking, wars have begun for any number of reasons or as a result of a variety of possible sequences. Some have begun almost suddenly, erupting like a summer storm with little warning and with few prior expectations. Others have been the culmination of lengthy rivalries and feuds, involving arms races and serial crises. Some have begun definitively on a given day, with the opening of full-scale hostilities, while others have escalated slowly from a minor skirmish to all-out battle, sometimes involving an interregnum often characterized as “phony war.” Some wars have been premeditated; others have involved crises escalating out of control, constituting wars that “nobody wanted.” The variety is mixed and nearly endless.


Gross National Product Force Ratio Military Expenditure Major Power Incumbent Regime 
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© Robert E. Harkavy and Stephanie G. Neuman 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert E. Harkavy
  • Stephanie G. Neuman

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