No other human activity has had a greater impact on world history than war. By waging war, nations have risen to positions of global dominance; as victims of war, not only nations but also entire civilizations have been crippled, if not exterminated. Wars disrupt trade, destroy transportation and communications networks, and spread death and disease. Yet at the same time, wars have led to economic growth, transportation and communications revolutions, and advances in science and medicine. Not surprisingly, culture – novels and poems; film, theatre and music; philosophy and political theory – has had a love/hate relationship with this most brutal, most human of phenomenon.
Surveying the history of warfare from Classical Antiquity to the Nuclear Age, this course will examine how and why wars have been waged; who has suffered or benefited from war, and why; and what the future holds for those who fight it, and those who suffer by it, as warfare enters the 21st century.