List of Reasons for War (13 sensible reasons?)


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Page last updated: 26/11/2020

List of Reasons for War (13 sensible reasons?)

This blog article will provide the list of reasons for war and wars that were fought for weird reasons.

List of Reasons for War

War refers to a situation in which various countries or several groups within a country fight amongst each other with the use of machinery and ammunition. Nations wage wars to achieve a specific objective. Battles fought within a state are known as civil wars. 

Wars are caused due to several factors or a combination of factors and cannot be attributed to one particular cause. Following is a general outline of the list of reasons for war. 

  • Nationalism
  • Territorial Gain
  • Revenge
  • Religion
  • Economic Gain
  • Revolutionary War 
  • Defensive War
  • Civil War


Nationalism concerning war refers to a country trying to assert the power to display authority by invading other countries and conquering them. Most experts on battles and political theories agree that warfare is most often caused due to the nation’s spirit and what it represents. They state that conflicts are not usually fought in the interest of safety or acquisition of tangible material. Instead, wars reflect nationalism. 

Imperialism is closely related to nationalism and can be seen in the National Socialist German Workers’ Party period. The Germans fought against Russia in an effort to show supremacy over Russians who were viewed as inferior.

Examples of war caused by nationalism include World War I and the Chichimeca War.

Territorial Gain

When a country seeks to expand its territory for various purposes, including agriculture and inhabitation, invading another country and conquering their land could lead to war. When two countries are known for their rivalry, they may use the territory as “buffer zones.” 

Proxy wars are related to buffer zones in that the battles are carried out implicitly in another country. These wars were typically seen in the time of the Cold War. Proxy wars involve each country choosing the side that best suits their logistics, finance, and army interests. 

Mexican-American War, Arab-Israeli War, and Serb-Bulgarian War are examples of wars caused by territorial gain. 


Revenge is a common cause of war. Retaliation occurs when a country attempts to punish or strike back. It is also a concept closely associated with nationalism as offending a country’s citizens incentivizes them to seek revenge to preserve their patriotism and what their nation represents. 

The worst about wars waged based on revenge is that they get stuck in an endless loop of retaliation. Most European wars are waged in an attempt to seek revenge.

Examples include World War II and War on Terror. 

List of Reasons for War (13 sensible reasons?)


Religion is a common cause of wars. These dangerous encounters are often deep-seated and surface after years of dormancy. They are also closely associated with nationalism or potential aggression in the past. Not only do different religions battle each other; it is probable for sects within religion to wage war against each other, like Catholics and Protestants.  

It is common for religion-based wars to manifest as civil wars. 

Examples of war having an underlying religious tone include the Yugoslav Wars, The Crusades, Second Sudanese Civil War, and Lebanese Civil War. 

Economic Gain

Often, wars result from one country’s desire to attain the wealth of another. The need to gain wealth often accompanies most conflicts, irrespective of the primary objective. Before the Industrial Revolution, wars were fought by countries to acquire valuable metals or livestock. 

The modern era calls for wars related to current precious commodities, namely oil, materials required for manufacturing, and other minerals. 

Researchers postulate that due to population detonation, necessities like water and food are running out at an unprecedented rate and could lead to wars among countries. 

Anglo-Indian Wars and the Finnish-Soviet War stemmed from the desire to gain economic wealth. 

Revolutionary War

Revolutionary wars happen because of dissatisfaction with the ruling party of the country among a massive group of people, leading to protests and battles in an attempt to bring them down. 

Such rebellions stem from several reasons, such as unlawful deeds or practices committed by the party in power or severe economic difficulties faced by specific sets of people. These wars are likely to turn into civil wars.

Examples of revolutionary war include the French Revolution, American Revolution, Haitian Revolution, and the Portuguese Revolution.  

Defensive War

Defensive wars are typically given as excuses by countries acting from a defensive stance. They fight against an attacker or a prospective one. 

These wars become even more debatable in the second context when countries quote that they are waging war against a state before the latter unavoidably attacks them. 

An example of a defensive war comes from the ongoing Iraqi conflict.  

Civil War 

Civil wars occur in the event of extreme discord or discrepancies inside a nation among various groups of people. Such differences can stem from religion, rules, rights, and the way the government should function, resulting in brutal fights among different groups of people. 

These wars can also occur due to rebelling groups wanting to become a country of their own or states that wish to withdraw from a more significant association.

Examples of civil wars include the Spanish Civil War, the American Civil War, the Korean War, and the Russian Civil War.

Wars Fought for Weird Reasons

Some wars have been fought for the most bizarre reasons, including:

  • The Pig War
  • The War of the Stray Dog
  • The Pastry War
  • The Toledo War

The Pig War

The United States and Great Britain went into war over a controversy regarding the killing of a boar. It occurred on San Juan Island, to which both countries had claims due to the presence of American and British inhabitants. An American farmer killed a black boar found on his potato farm but happened to be owned by a British person.   

This incited much argument between the two populations, and the American farmer was incarcerated. Upon informing the U.S military, they deployed a small group of militants to the island led by Captain George Pickett.  The Captain claimed complete ownership of the island by the U.S, to which the British responded by deployed a group of heavily armed naval forces. 

Both the troops took a defensive stance in anticipation of an attack from the other side. The U.S. and Great Britain finally agreed on mutual occupancy of the island, putting an end to the bloodless war. 

The War of the Stray Dog

The longstanding rivalry between Greece and Bulgaria since the Second Balkan War saw its tipping point in 1925. A dog ran away, and his owner, a Greek soldier, was shot as he chased after his dog, passing the border into Bulgaria.

This led to a full-blown invasion of the Greeks into Bulgaria and conquering various villages. Greece’s plan to attack a Bulgarian city was put to rest when the League of Nations intervened. A truce was achieved when an international committee negotiated between the two countries. However, around 50 people were already killed in this conflict. 

The Pastry War

In the late 1820s, a group of raging people damaged various parts of Mexico City in a military takeover or coup d’état. A French pastry chef named Remontel was affected in the riot as these mobs looted his café. Remontel appealed to the French government for compensation following the ignorance of Mexican authorities. 

Several years later, it came to the attention of King Louis Philippe, who was already enraged with the Mexican authorities for their undue ignorance in repaying loans. He urged they compensate the chef six hundred pesos, which the Mexicans refused. King Louis-Philippe responded to their reluctance with war. 

The Toledo War or Ohio-Michigan War

List of Reasons for War (13 sensible reasons?)

In the early 1800s, Ohio took over a small amount of land., which included Toledo. A few decades later, in the 1830s, Michigan disagreed with Ohio’s assertion on Toledo, which led to an intense controversy bordering on violence for a while. 

Soon it became known as the Toledo war as both states attempted to claim Toledo as its own by preparing paramilitaries to protect themselves from a coming invasion by the other. 

By 1836, President Andrew Jackson decided to achieve common ground not to lose electoral votes from Ohio. The conflict relaxed as Michigan agreed to give up the claim on Toledo in exchange for recognition as an independent state and a portion of the Upper Peninsula. 


This blog article briefly looked at the list of reasons for war and wars that were fought for weird reasons.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): List of Reasons for War

Can violence resolve issues? 

Violence can resolve issues in the sense that peace follows for a while after a war. However, if the underlying cause of the issue prevails, then it is not resolved. There is a possibility that the problem will resurface, leading to violence again. Non-violent means of resolving issues is the need of the hour as the conflict has become much more damaging.

Which was the first-ever war?

The first war to be recorded took place in 2700 BC in Mesopotamia. It happened between Elam and Sumer, wherein the latter won.  However, archaeological studies report that war may have occurred in an earlier era, probably sometime in 10,000 BC.

Do wars always require army troops?

It is not always that wars require army troops, although that is commonly seen. For instance, in revolutionary wars, the battle is fought between people who are not from the military, at least initially. With technological advancements, warfare utilizes automated machinery such as missiles instead of conventional soldiers. 

Partisan and guerrilla members also partake in conflicts and need not be associated with the military. Moreover, cyberwar, which refers to one country’s attack on another through digital means, like hacking or spreading computer viruses, is also beginning to increase. 

Do all wars try to achieve peace?

Not all wars try to achieve peace, but some conflicts like defensive wars may be waged to accomplish peace. Several battles are fought to suppress the rival and bring about peace to the winning party.

What led to Napoleonic Wars?

The French Revolution led to Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon tried to bring stability to France as it had undergone intense chaos due to the revolution. He wanted to resolve the conflicts that had risen from the movement, which led to his battles with European powers, particularly the United Kingdom. Eventually, it became a battle to attain supremacy in the European land.  


Andrews, E. (2018, August 22). 6 Wars Fought for Ridiculous Reasons. History. Retrieved from  

Goodman, P. (2020, August 15). The 8 Main Reasons for War. Owlcation. Retrieved from  

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