Ray Miller, my sophomore (Pueblo South High School, 1978,) history teacher, taught that the three causes of World War I, and by extension most every war, were as follows: militarism, nationalism and imperialism.
Through my career in history and study I have found that to be generally true. In fact, at least one element is always present, particularly if you understand nationalism to include religious fervor. Militarism is almost by definition a necessity, but the degree to which it “causes” a conflict can vary. However, and in a general sense, usually a nation that overbuilds it military tends to be inclined to use it. In most cases to gain ground or resources (imperialism).
The year 1973 was a pivotal year in the development of the American militaristic mentality that we experience today. Not only was the War Powers Act passed, vetoed and then overridden to become law, but the Army Chief of Staff, seeing the writing on the wall of the WPA, took action to – he hoped – prevent one man or group of men from ever taking the nation to war without the will of the people behind them.
It didn’t work. The question is why not?