If I ever write about the origins of war, I would include the following:

From a short article published in 1931, M.H Cochran’s “The Real Cause of War”:

…for what purposes, one may ask, do groups force governments into war? The answer is that they desire war for four main reasons: (1) to get into control at home; (2) to avoid losing control at home; (3) to turn attention from unsatisfactory conditions at home; (4) to enrich themselves at home.

…If it be true, then, that dominating groups control foreign policy and make wars to maintain their dominance, what chance is there that these groups can be persuaded to avoid war by giving up their control? The answer is, practically none.

Cochran has a tossed-off line that’s fascinating if you remember he wrote ten years before the attack on Pearl Harbor and if you’ve wondered whether U.S. policies in the Pacific were designed to provoke a war:

Last Spring there were indications that the American government was considering seriously the idea of a war with Japan in order to bring us out of the Depression.

I would include what the Bible says about the origin of war:

James 4:1-2: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”

And the first Biblical mention of war:

Genesis 14:1-4: “And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations, that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.”

I would consider the evidence at Hamoukar. “Relics of the Very First War” in DISCOVER Magazine has this:

“The Mesopotamian kings saw warfare as a divinely ordered thing, but there was always an underlying economic factor,”

(For a bit more about Hamoukar: Artifacts from Hamoukar)

And because I love quotes, I would include this:

“It seems that ‘we have never gone to war for conquest, for exploitation, nor for territory’; we have the word of a president [McKinley] for that. Observe, now, how Providence overrules the intentions of the truly good for their advantage. We went to war with Mexico for peace, humanity and honor, yet emerged from the contest with an extension of territory beyond the dreams of political avarice. We went to war with Spain for relief of an oppressed people [the Cubans], and at the close found ourselves in possession of vast and rich insular dependencies [primarily the Philippines] and with a pretty tight grasp upon the country for relief of whose oppressed people we took up arms. We could hardly have profited more had ‘territorial aggrandizement’ been the spirit of our purpose and heart of our hope. The slightest acquaintance with history shows that powerful republics are the most warlike and unscrupulous of nations.” —Ambrose Bierce