Modeling the triggering of wars to understand the “War Cycle”

In search of a model for understanding war that is compatible with the “War Cycle”.

In what is observed about the “War Cycle”, it must be said that the traditional understanding of wars does not help us much. When it is said that the crisis of 1929 was the cause of the Second World War, it suggests that a war can be reduced to a single cause.
Thus, some might consider the “War Cycle” to be THE cause of wars. This assertion is meaningless. The “War Cycle” is not THE cause of wars but simply a phenomenon that favors wars at certain times. The “War Cycle” exacerbates, amplifies violence to the point that it can degenerate into war, but the war may have been started at the most unlikely times. Moreover, there are times when the phenomenon of the “War Cycle” has almost no effect. We must therefore try to find a model for understanding wars that is consistent with the observations made about the “War Cycle”.
What follows is an attempt to find a satisfactory explanation consistent with what has been observed. It uses several different concepts. It opens up a new understanding of wars.
In order to understand this model of understanding of wars, one must keep in mind two phenomena and their combination:
Phenomenon A – a sinusoidal phenomenon that exacerbates or alleviates tensions
Phenomenon B – an explanation of the outbreak of wars
And finally, the combination of these 2 phenomena

Phenomenon A – The “War Cycle”: a sinusoidal phenomenon that exacerbates or attenuates tensions

There are times when violence is exacerbated and times when it is mitigated. The transition from one to the other is gradual.

Phenomenon B – An explanation of the outbreak of wars

A war is caused by the accumulation of a set of causes and not by a single cause.
When it is said that the crisis of 1929 was the cause of the Second World War, it would be more normal to say that it was a cause that was added to others such as the Franco-German antagonism of the time, as well as the treaty marking the end of the First World War, perceived as a vexation to be repaired. These are 3 causes that have cumulated. There are still others such as Hitler’s personality. And to all these causes was added this “War Cycle” which appears as a complementary cause. This last cause does not represent more than 20% of all these causes leading to war, but added to the others it may have been enough to trigger this cycle of violence.
Polemology (in the journals of the Institute of Polemology in the 1970s at Paris) distinguished mainly 3 levels of causes:

  • structural causes that correspond to permanent causes (religious, cultural, institutional differences)
  • the “conjunctural” causes that correspond to the succession of events that precede the war without being its immediate cause.
  • the immediate cause, i.e. the event that caused the outbreak of the war

All the causes accumulate and can become higher than a threshold for the outbreak of war.

For the rest of the explanation, it is necessary to think of all the causes of wars as cyclical and structural causes that accumulate.
There is war only if their accumulation exceeds a threshold called the “threshold for the outbreak of war“. This notion of threshold is introduced by the author and is considered fundamental for the research that could be done in the years to come.
Beyond a certain threshold of tension, there will be an incident (the immediate cause) that will determine the beginning of the war. The accumulation of tensions leads in any case to an incident or action that will mark the beginning of the war.

Violence is different before and after the threshold of war. After crossing this threshold, war gives the impression of self-feeding. War itself contributes to its extension. In other words, once the threshold of war is crossed, the level of violence immediately becomes much greater.
The effort to end a war is much greater than the effort to avoid it.

Combination of phenomena A and B on a war amplification peak

Case1: Cases where the accumulation of cyclical and structural causes is slightly below the war threshold.
In this case, the “War Cycle”, during an amplification period, acts as an additional cause that will cause the threshold of war to be exceeded, thus transforming the permanent tension into war.

This explains the choice of the selected contexts and why they allow to make some predictions.

By focusing on recurring conflicts (e.g. the Arab-Israeli conflict) which always give the impression of being on the brink of war without going to war, we can determine the possible wars during the next periods of amplification.

Case 2: Cases where the combination of cyclical and structural causes is well below the war threshold.

In this case the “War Cycle”, during a war amplification peak, acts as an additional cause, but there is no war because the war threshold is not reached.

It also allows to imagine ways of taking action. Not knowing the origin of the periodic phenomenon that causes the “War Cycle”, we cannot act on this cause. Only known causes can be mitigated. Vigorous conventional negotiations can reduce tensions and some causes of war. If ther are carried out before the next amplification period, we can hope to avoid a future war.

Case 3: Cases where the accumulation of cyclical and structural causes is well above the war threshold, even before the war amplification peak.

In this case, there is already a war before the amplification period. There is no new war since it has already started. The amplification period can encourage visible “over-violence” through military escalation (local, regional, international) or new violence. Several cases support this hypothesis:

  • At the beginning of 1964, the bombings in Vietnam marked a military escalation at the time of the amplification peak. The war has officially begun some time ago, but the real escalation occurs at this peak.
  • The war in Iraq began in 2003, at a time of peak mitigation, the American victory was followed by a gradual increase in violence until the end of 2006. See the section “Materialization of the War Cycle by Thousands of Measures”. This shows an over-violence that is added to the war unleashed at the most unlikely moment. This internal violence in Iraq increased up to the war amplification peak and then steadily decreased, until it gradually resumed with the arrival of the next amplification peak.
  • After the attack of November 13, 2015 in Paris by the Islamic state, France’s reaction provoked an escalation and dragged Great Britain into the war, hoping also to gather a military coalition. The war against the Islamic state started long before, but the 13th of November 2015 and the subsequent escalation is a typical example of over-violence when the war is already under way.
  • the war in Syria started in 2011, at a peak of attenuation, thus apparently contradicting the cycle of wars. But knowing this combination 3, I predicted in 2012 that there would be a regional escalation of the Syrian war at the amplification peak expected in late 2015. This extension of the war began in 2014 and continued in 2015 and 2016 before the ebb of the Islamic state began. The “Islamic State” form was not planned in 2012, but the extension to a series of regional countries, yes

It is important to understand that this model of war outbreak and these 3 identified combinations allow us to better understand the effect of this “cycle of wars” which can be visible in different ways:

  • the outbreak of a new war (Case 1)
  • the escalation or extension of the war in a wider area (Case 3)
What should be done to complete this embryonic explanation of the wars?

Only a few concepts were posed. They explain that the cyclical phenomenon is only one cause among others.

To go further, it would be necessary to quantify the causes of wars in order to transform these concepts into something measurable. This is another reflection that should be carried out and which is not addressed here.
The principles set out here allow us to understand that in some cases the “War Cycle” can provoke wars, in other cases it can provoke none at all, or it can provoke an escalation or extension of an already existing war. These principles cling to more classical concepts of understanding war. The “War Cycle” does not question these explanations but completes them by identifying an additional cause that was, until now, invisible and which is added to those that already exist.
This model of understanding wars is consistent with what is observed. The “War Cycle” does not systematically produce a war, but indicates the conditions under which it can promote war or escalation.
The “Cycle of Wars” therefore has an effect only when there are already pre-existing tensions that will turn into war at the peak of the amplification of conflicts/wars.
This explanation also breaks the fatalism that some might see in it and allows us to understand that the predictions of possible wars will first be based on a classic method of war analysis, before identifying conflicts that could degenerate into war.

updated on October 19, 2020