War has been and remains a part of the global history. The most notorious wars around the world include the First World War that occurred between 1914 and 1918 and the Second World War that took place between 1939 and 1945. These wars emanated from continuing tensions and doubts between such powerful countries such Germany and Great Britain. It is worth understanding that a war of aggression is basically a military conflict waged without the justification of self-defense, and it is always focused on the expansion of a country’s territory. It is considered one of the most serious crimes by the International Criminal Court because of the nature of the destruction it tends to lead to in terms of preventable deaths. As for wars of refusal, they were mostly motivated by the growing weariness among soldiers participating in the First World War. Wars of refusal were prevalent within the Russian, French, and German armies and tended to take place mostly between 1917 and 1918 with the growing division among military personnel. The ultimate result of such wars was violence and increased casualties among soldiers. On the other hand, wars of retribution are seen as a form of vengeance against a particular act. The worst case scenario is that they tend to lead to untold suffering and deaths among innocent civilians who have nothing to do with the aggression between the countries involved. This essay explicates diverse aspects of war, including wars of aggression, wars of refusal, and wars of retribution by utilizing lecture notes and relevant books. 

Wars of Aggression

Wars of aggression are also popularly referred to as wars of conquest, and they mainly entail a military conflict that arises without any justification of self-defense from a country (Fromkin 258). Notably, nations and societies in general are often in constant desire to expand their territorial boundaries. Likewise, neighboring nations also need to protect their boundaries to maintain and defend their sovereignty. Relatively larger territorial boundaries are considered a symbol of more political power that other nations would strive to hold. The desire to expand one’s boundaries at times results into war activities. Military involvement is an inevitable element of these wars when it comes to the expansion of a country’s territory. The aspect of self-defense does not exist in the course of war of aggression since the major goal here is to ensure conquest. In the contemporary world, wars of aggression are not supported by the international law, especially the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which categorizes it as one of the most serious crimes (Doyle 77). This is based on the fact that these conflicts are solely organized in order to compromise sovereignty of weaker nations and to destabilize nations. Specifically, the international customary law strongly opposes these types of wars. A perfect example of war of aggression that occurred in the world history is the Korean War that occurred in the early 1950s (Lecture Notes 2). Under the current international customary laws, it is considered a supreme international crime for a nation to wage any sort of war of aggression against any state. This could invite adverse international sanctions towards the country that shows aggression. According to the United Nations charter, the UN Security Council is offered the obligation of determining any sort of aggressive war coming up with necessary courses of action against the state. In addition, the Rome Statute that is behind establishment of the international criminal court stipulates actions by a nation that contributes to a war of aggression. The statute also affirms that action of aggression is one of the serious crimes in the light of the international criminal court.

In international laws, wars of aggression are known as crime against peace. It is one of the main responsibilities of various international treaties to ensure peace globally. By initiating and conducting wars of aggression, a nation is seen to jeopardize various international treaties that promote global peace. Apart from the United Nations Charter, there are a number of pacts and principles that have been instituted in the attempt to eliminate any cases of wars of aggression. In the year 1928, Kellogg Briand Pact was initiated to eliminate any possible incidence of aggressive wars (Fromkin 276). The treaty required nations to declare that they condemn war in the name of their respective countries. In addition, the pact required nations to declare that they supported international resolutions to various controversies. In support of the pact, nations were required to register with the United Nations.

Secondly, the Nuremberg Tribunal initiated in London suggested various categories of war that helped in controlling member parties whose actions contribute to violation of peace. The principles adopted in this pact demanded certain participation by the political class globally in the fight of crimes related to violation of peace at various levels. In an effort to discourage future undesirable actions by the political class, the pact initiated a process to prosecute those responsible for fomentation of the Second World War (Doyle 87). The right to ensure self-defense also became central in the principles. Self-defense is integral in protecting citizens of a country from unnecessary harm that could result from military operation in the course of war.


Wars of Refusal

Wars of refusal became more popular in Europe between 1917 and 1918 as military disintegration and unwillingness to fight observed in many soldiers participating in the war. Accordingly, 1916 was the turning point for most soldiers and led to the wars of refusal. For instance, the worsening mood among soldiers led to massive wars of refusal at the Verdun and Somme on the western front and the Brusilov offensive of the eastern front.

One of the most significant factors that encouraged the emergence of the wars of refusal was the lengthening of the First World War that led to tiredness among many soldiers. During the start of the First World War in 1914, many soldiers believed that it would only last a short time (Doyle 132). However, the prolongation of the war discouraged many of them and they refused to participate in it. The military stalemate on the western, eastern, and Italian fronts is illustrative of the rising cases of such wars in 1916. Two powerful forces linked to the lengthening of the war intersected in 1916 hence aggravating the nature of the wars of refusal (Lecture Note 1). Two more relevant factors included the rise of dissent and socio-political strife that provided the framework of the war and the unwillingness of the soldiers to continue the war. This led to the frequent killing of the soldiers who had lost their commitment to the First World War.

In 1917, wars of refusal were becoming more serious because the initial acceptance of the war and compliance with the commands could no longer lead the soldiers (Fromkin 290). Collective protests that signified these wars started to appear during the emergence of the February Revolution in Russia. Mutinies seemed to be the order of the day even on the frontline as ordinary soldiers clashed because of the frequent disagreements on the attitudes toward the First World War. This means that many of them lost their lives actually fighting their own commands.

Notably, the wars of refusal tended to be more prominent in the Russian army, evidenced by the rash of mutinies among its soldiers. One of the relevant examples of the growing mutinies in the Russian army was the 20th Siberian Rifle Division in Latvia in December 1916. This event had massive negative effects in term of suffering for most members of the Russian army and all belligerents (Doyle 88). Other countries, such as France, did not survive wars of refusal as the soldiers behind the lines disobeyed orders of their commands to advance to trenches. Therefore, they organized demonstrations and protests against the continued involvement in the war. The result was the same as repression was the order of the day for soldiers who had refused to continue taking part in the First World War. Many soldiers were shot dead while others were deported to colonial penitentiaries and sent to jail because of going against the orders.

Patterns of violent disorders among members of the army were becoming widespread all over Europe in countries such as Germany, France, and Russia in 1917, which resulted in a great number of dead and severely injured soldiers (Lecture Notes 2). The most notable similarity among the wars of refusal in all these countries is that they took place in an extremely volatile context and were initiated by the rumors and news indicating the desire to end the First World War. Another relevant similarity among these wars is that they were never organized by political movements in Europe, but by soldiers who wanted peace and those who wanted to continue with the combat. The number of casualties was always at the highest level in each of these countries hence signifying their destructive nature.

Wars of Retribution

The term “wars of retribution” was a common term in the period of the New Pacific Order. The term is used in a number of instances to refer to the Second Great War that was characterized by a series of activities and massive loss of lives. It is critical to understand that wars of retribution often entail the usage of violence as the mode of revenge against any form of wrongdoing. This means that more powerful nations during the World War, such as the Soviet Union, would take advantage and use violence against weaker opponents, such as Greece, as the sign of retribution for any wrongdoing against them. Apart from this, the Soviet Union attempted to punish its own citizens who had been perceived to have supported Germany during the Second World War that ended in 1945 (Deák, Gross and Judt 59). This form of punishment was collective and included such individuals as nurses and doctors who had assisted victims of war from both countries hence raising more questions on the nature of the wars of retribution. Wars of retribution are basically based on the assumption that justice is only attained in cases where violence is appropriately utilized to pay for wrongdoing.

Wars of retribution view justice only as the moral order that attempts to bring some form of balance in the interactions and relationships between individuals around the globe. With such wars, it is always likely that innocent individuals would be caught in the cross-fire, even when they have committed nothing wrong. The Second Great War is distinguished as one of the key events that changed the way of life in Europe, especially because of the major battles that took place there and the expansive usage of maps and timelines in the course of trying to trace opponents (Lecture Notes 2). With this change of life, the main aim of wars of retribution is to provide punishment by inflicting pain on the population that might have committed some form of wrongdoing within the society.

From the perspective of wars of retribution, pain is inflicted in the best ways possible by using violence toward a particular nation or a particular group of individuals. Even though a great number of innocent individuals were involved in the wars of retribution, many of them managed to survive any form of punishment. This was popular among individuals who had been opposed to Nazism. In countries, such as Czechoslovakia, there was the lustration project, which mostly targeted individuals who had supported the ruling party during the Second World War. The target of the war of retribution in Czechoslovakia was to ensure that such individuals are deprived of their rights and that they hold a collective responsibility for having assisted the ruling party during the war (Deák, Gross and Judt 77).

Most of the retributive wars that happened in European countries took place before their full liberation. For instance, France experienced a large number of deaths, especially with the raging battles before the decline of the retributive period. As noted above, the key target was to punish those who were not following the rules established within the country. It was more of a communal attack against a collaborator. In summary, wars of retribution were persistent before the passage of special tribunals that was invented to pass judgment on individuals perceived to be working against the system.

The worst effect of the wars of retribution is that they led to deaths of many innocent individuals from different countries across Europe. This is especially because of their war’s collective approach to matters of support to other countries, such as the Soviet Union (Fromkin 289). However, wars of retribution were dealt with effectively with the formation of an appropriate judicial process that came to ensure that everyone is judged and punished appropriately without the unnecessary application of violence and injuries.


In the light of the presented information, it is worth concluding that a conflict is a common phenomenon in the modern-day society. Owing to the various forms of conflicts rampant in the global domain, there is a need to put in place measures that could help to effectively eliminate wars. Setting effective policies that control military operation would be central in elimination of possible actions by the military and governments that could result into wars. In line with this, the production of nuclear weapons should be strictly governed to eliminate their unnecessary usage leading to massive deaths. In the course resulting into possible measures to eliminate cases of war, there is a need for extensive involvement of international organizations, such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, in attempt to peacefully resolve situations of turmoil and prevent adverse results. There is a need of extensive analysis of aspects that are likely to contribute to boarder conflicts so as to take into consideration measures to prevent realization of these feuds at the early stages. For example, regarding instances of refusal wars, authorities at the center of the feuds should adopt courses of actions that are targeted at identification of possible factors that contribute to cases of dissatisfaction. This should then be proceeded by procedural solutions that take into consideration the details demanded by those on the opposition. On the other hand, the international community should think of more harsh measures targeted at elimination of incidences of wars of aggression in the global domain. Apart from these formal structures initiated to identify cases of aggression, the structures should be empowered within the law to initiate harsh punishments on perpetrators since the political powers are largely involved in contributing to these incidences of wars around the globe.

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