Research Outline

Predicting Current Likelihood of War


Using the currently accepted geopolitical, geographic, economic, and political factors which can lead to war, determine if there are any countries likely to go to war in the next month.

Early Findings

Potential Hot Spots

  • Foreign Policy, one of the preeminent journals in tracking potential conflict, has identified some of the major possibilities for warfare in 2020. One hotspot is Libya, where Russia, the US, Turkey, and Europe all play a role in the decisions being discussed by the Libyan government.
  • Another is Venezuela, where the government’s intransigence based on their belief that Russia or China will back them is countered by internal forces that believe the US will help oust the current President.
  • There are pundits and analysts in the US who believe that the political polarization in the current election will lead to armed conflict after the election. Whether it could result in a civil war is up for debate.

Reasons for War

  • There are eight major reasons why war is declared. They include economic gain, territorial gain, religion, nationalism, revenge, civil war, revolutionary war, or defensive war.
  • In modern times, countries may declare war looking for necessary resources like oil, minerals, or materials required by their major manufacturing industries.
  • Countries could decide they need more land for agricultural purposes, for living space, or to create a buffer zone between an antagonistic neighbor. This could also include proxy wars, like those fought during the Cold War.
  • Religion itself is seldom a reason but is often tied to nationalism or revenge for a historical action. Religious wars can also be between different sects of the same religion, like Suni and Shiite in Islam, or Catholic and Protestant in Christianity.
  • While other causes of war may be evident, nationalism is nearly always a factor. “Most wars are not fought for reasons of security or material interests, but instead reflect a nation’s ‘spirit’.” A subset of nationalism is imperialism, which is the idea that conquering other countries “brings honor and esteem to the conqueror.” Also included in this category is racism, where one race feels superior to others.
  • Historically revenge has been a factor in many wars. This too can be considered a subset of nationalism, when people of a nation feel compelled to fight back because of pride.
  • Civil wars can be sparked by a serious disagreement between factions within a country about “who rules, how the country should be run or the people's rights.” They can also be caused by a section of a country wishing to secede and form an independent country.
  • Revolutionary wars can be caused when a large section of the populace does not like the way they are being ruled. This can be caused by economic hardship or perceived injustices committed by the ruling class.
  • Defensive wars have become more common in the modern age when military aggression is more often questioned and must be defended to the global community. These defensive wars can be especially controversial when they are launched preemptively, the argument essentially being that: “We are attacking them before they inevitably attack us.”