The war portal


War is a state of armed conflict between states, governments, societies and informal paramilitary groups, such as mercenaries, insurgents and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. Warfare refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general. Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, and can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant suffering and casualties.

While some scholars see war as a universal and ancestral aspect of human nature, others argue it is a result of specific socio-cultural or ecological circumstances.

The deadliest war in history, in terms of the cumulative number of deaths since its start, is World War II, from 1939 to 1945, with 60–85 million deaths, followed by the Mongol conquests at up to 60 million. As concerns a belligerent's losses in proportion to its prewar population, the most destructive war in modern history may have been the Paraguayan War (see Paraguayan War casualties). In 2013 war resulted in 31,000 deaths, down from 72,000 deaths in 1990. In 2003, Richard Smalley identified war as the sixth biggest problem (out of ten) facing humanity for the next fifty years. War usually results in significant deterioration of infrastructure and the ecosystem, a decrease in social spending, famine, large-scale emigration from the war zone, and often the mistreatment of prisoners of war or civilians. For instance, of the nine million people who were on the territory of the Byelorussian SSR in 1941, some 1.6 million were killed by the Germans in actions away from battlefields, including about 700,000 prisoners of war, 500,000 Jews, and 320,000 people counted as partisans (the vast majority of whom were unarmed civilians). Another byproduct of some wars is the prevalence of propaganda by some or all parties in the conflict, and increased revenues by weapons manufacturers.

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Chinese representatives inspecting a Junkers aircraft, 1933

During the period from 1911 to 1941, Sino-German cooperation was often close, culminating in an alliance between the Republic of China and Germany. Close cooperation dating back to the 1920s was instrumental in modernizing the industry and the armed forces of the Republic of China, especially in the period immediately preceding the Second Sino-Japanese War. Succeeding the Qing Dynasty in 1912, the Republic of China was fraught with factional warlordism from the inside and foreign incursions from the outside. The Northern Expedition of 1928 nominally unified China for the first time under Kuomintang control, yet Imperial Japan emerged as the greatest foreign threat. The urgent need for China to modernize its military and national defense industry, coupled with Germany's need for a stable supply of raw materials, put the two countries on the road of close relations from the late 1920s to the late 1930s. Although the period of intense cooperation was relatively short, lasting only from the Nazi takeover of Germany in 1933 to the start of the war with Japan in 1937, it had a profound effect on the modernization efforts of China, as well as her capability to resist the Japanese in the war.

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A young Marine private waits on the beach during the Marine landing at Da Nang, Vietnam — August 3, 1965

A young Marine private waits on the beach during the Marine landing at Da Nang, Vietnam — August 3, 1965.
Photo credit: Unknown - NARA archive

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