Sample Research Paper on The Revolution of Warfare

The Revolution of Warfare

Humans have engaged in armed conflict and wars since time immemorial thus the phenomenon termed war is synonymous with human existence. Human beings being irrational animals have warlike genes in their inherent genetic makeup which makes them inclined to war and destruction. Throughout the course of history, the phenomenon of war has remained constant within the human species although the tactics and strategies used in the various wars have kept evolving. Man has evolved from the use of crude weapons and war tactics in the previous years to more sophisticated war strategies and weapons of massive destruction in the contemporary world. From World War One to the Cold War, man has constantly improved on his war strategies and weapons without giving a thought to the effects of the weapons and strategies to his future existence.

The First World War, also known as the Great War, was a global armed conflict that took place from 1914 to 1918. The First World War involved more than twenty countries grouped into two antagonistic camps; the Central Powers and the Allied Powers (Dawley, 145; Rostker, 175; Jarausch, 287). The Great War was instigated by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand the archduke and heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire (Eksteins, 345; Dawley, 145; Jarausch, 288). For the first time in history, the entire world was engaged in an armed conflict, the First World War that was fought in various battlefronts (Remarque 89, McLean, 72). The First World War involved the use of advanced military technologies and weapons such as the machine gun and modern war strategies such as trench warfare (Remarque, 102; Dawley, 146). The First World War was shortly preceded by the Second Industrial Revolution that rocked Europe from the late 19th century. The Second Industrial Revolution set numerous European nations on a gradual industrialization wave that made them more financially and militarily superior. The new industries churned out the latest weapons of mass destruction such as tanks, machine guns, and bombs on an unprecedented level.

With European countries and other major powers of the world armed with the latest weapons of mass destruction, the First World War promised to be unprecedentedly dangerous. Modern weapons such as bombs and machine guns could be used to annihilate an entire platoon of soldiers within minutes. The lethal nature of the weapons made the war generals and experts during the First World War to come up with the trench warfare system of fighting. The trench warfare method of fighting is a system relied upon by land troops during the Great War in which troops fight inside elaborate trenches to protect themselves from the heavy artillery fire of conventional weapons such as machine guns. In between the trenches of two antagonistic military sides was a no man’s land. Any soldier who dared to cross the no man’s land was exposed to direct gunfire from both sides hence had fewer chances of survival (All Quiet). The trenches utilized during the First World War were equipped with communication and commodities supply trenches to ensure the soldiers were both informed and replenished without leaving the trenches. According to Remarque, trench warfare though useful in sheltering soldiers from direct artillery fire protracts combat due to the limited mobility of troops (69). The predominant use of trench warfare during the First World War is the main reason that caused the war to stretch to four years (Eksteins 350). The trench warfare method also affected the physical health and mental psyche of the soldiers who would normally be marooned in a trench for months. The horrors of the First World War in which more than sixteen million people were killed are attributed to the advancement in man’s ability to make more deadly weapons and strategies of war such as trench warfare.

The Second World War was a major armed conflict that involved more than thirty nations of the world. The Second World War is the last major armed conflict in the world and led to many more horrors and deaths than those witnessed during the First World War. The Second World War started in 1939 and ended six years later in 1945 after leading to the deaths of more than a hundred million people. The Second World War also witnessed massive destruction of property with towns and cities being annihilated. The Second World War came at a time when Europe and most of the first world countries had deeply invested in industrialization and mechanization with the hopes of not only improving their economy but also their military superiority. Therefore, most European states were militarily prepared with a wide range of weapons of mass destruction including chemical weapons. Germany under the rule of Adolf Hitler was dissatisfied by the Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War in 1918. The Treaty of Versailles that was largely made by the winning Central Powers alliance attributed the cause of the First World War to Germany hence subjected to numerous fines and concessions. The largely punitive terms of the Versailles treaty incensed the Germans who thought that the treaty stood in their way to the economic dominance of Europe.

In August 1939, Germany invaded Poland thus instigating the Second World War. The Second World War involved the use of numerous sophisticated weapons such as advanced bombs, tanks, and guns. The most horrifying military weapon unleashed during the Second World War was the Atomic Bomb used by the United States of America to bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan in 1945 (Kenny 148; Sjoberg, 220). The atomic bomb brought a new dimension with regard to modern warfare as its deleterious effects witnessed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima took the whole world by awe (Burdick and Wheeler 328). The military tactics used during the Second World War also massively improved from the predominant trench warfare used during the First World War. Germany exploited a new military strategy of dealing with its number one enemy who were then the German Jews and other Jews who lived in Europe. The German army came up with the military strategy – the Einsatzgruppen also is known as genocide to exterminate the Jews under their Final Solution Program (Browning 320; Engel, 134). The Einsatzgruppen involved the mass extermination of all Jews by the German military while utilizing the least amount of resources while at it (Burdick and Wheeler 212). The German soldiers, secret police, and gendarmeries rounded up all the Jews living in all German-occupied territories and divided them into two groups; the able-bodied and others. The able-bodied Jews were largely male and energetic and could be subjected to forced labor in the German labor camps. The other group was made up of the sick, women, children and the elderly Jews who were either subjected to firing squads or shipped to the gas chamber in Auschwitz where they were tortured and gassed to death. According to Browning, the inhuman war strategy, Einsatzgruppen, was largely shaped by the crushing conformity and blind unthinkable acceptance of the political norms of the time coupled with the overriding anti-Semitism prevalent in contemporary Germany and Europe as a whole (318). The war strategies utilized in the Second World War led to massive loss of life and destruction of property in a proportion unprecedented before.

The end of the Second World War saw the creation of the United Nations an organization charged with the main responsibility of maintaining world peace and avoiding the occurrence of another world war. However, the peace promised by the United Nations did not last for long before the start of the Cold War. The Cold War did not involve any actual armed conflict although it was a period of high geopolitical tension between the two world superpowers; the United States of America and the Soviet Union (Burdick and Wheeler 95; Springer 172). Both nations supported different and diametrically opposite views with regard to politico-economic ideologies. The United States of America espoused the politico-economic ideology of capitalism while the Soviet Union espoused communism. The above differences in ideologies made the American political elite espouse the Ideology of the Liberal Consensus (Maland and Strangelove 209; Springer, 170). The ideology of Liberal Consensus espoused that the structure and basis of the American culture were sound and stable and that the only problem threatening the stability and existence of America and its allies was the ideology of communism and its spread (Maland and Strangelove 209; Riggs et al, 110). America in a bid to try and curb the spread of communism came up with an intervention foreign policy that encompassed the element of imperialism. America’s imperialism foreign policy enabled it to use its military strength and invade and interfere with the internal affairs of numerous countries in Latin American such as Cuba and Bolivia and Africa such as Liberia (Dr. Strangelove). The imperialist policy enabled America to exploit the economic resources, put up their military bases and curb the spread of capitalism among the countries they invaded. The Soviet Union also adopted the same tactics to spread its political ideology of communism.

The Cold War was based on the arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States of America. The two global superpowers competed over the manufacture and production of the latest advancements in military warfare. According to Kenny, the declaration by America in 1952 that they had successfully made a hydrogen bomb seven hundred times more powerful than the atomic dropped in Nagasaki was closely followed by the 1953 declaration by the Soviets of the development of their version of the hydrogen bomb (145). The Cold War was largely based on war tactics aimed at intimidating either country from striking first. The nuclear strategists of the United States of America realized that nuclear weapons could be sued as a defense strategy by decision-makers (Kenny 138; Springer, 172). The Cold War tactics relied heavily on the media which was used to sway public opinion. According to the film Fail-safe, in the initial stages of the Cold War, the media was used to whip up the emotions of the American people and to unite them behind the Ideology of the Liberal Consensus that advocated for the development and stockpiling of nuclear warheads.

A thorough analysis of the three major global wars including the First World War, the Second World War, and the Cold War points out one irreversible fact which is the evolving nature of war. War as a phenomenon will remain constant in the course of all human operations though how the war is conducted is what will change according to time. The massive changes in the weapons of war and methods of war through the three wars point to the evolutionary nature of war.

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