In sum, all conflicts and wars eventually come to an end. And when a war comes to an end, the final outcome and final result of a war cannot be changed through violence. Thus, a negotiated settlement before the inevitable outcome and inevitable result of a war is the most logical and rational step before the inevitable outcome and inevitable result of a conflict or war actually materialises.
Also, different groups and different individuals in every society have different assessments and different interests during the course of a war, and in turn these different groups and different individuals have different expectations and views as to how things are faring and how things will turn out. For instance, Donald Trump will view the current global situation differently than Joe Biden. Perhaps those who are in power and are personally benefitting from their positions of power will sugarcoat and put a spin on how things are going in the world. People in power can also be in denial or delusional about reality. But others who are not currently in positions of power will view the current global situation differently, and as a result of different view points and vantage points, power tends to change hands in a society depending on whose perception of reality wins out in the end.
From a realist perspective, “security” is the utmost concern for states. But different interpretations and perceptions as to what constitutes broad-based concepts and terms such as “defense” and “security” leads to what the international relations scholar John Herz called the “Security Dilemma.” Interpretation, history, and identity are perhaps the three main factors which figure into notions of “defense” and “security” based on suggestions from a range of scholars. In sum, the “Security Dilemma” suggests that one person’s definition and perception of “defense” and “security” and their defensive and security posturing amounts to another person interpreting those same exact definitions and actions as aggressive and offensive.
In other words, one person’s defense and security tends to be perceived by another person as aggressive and offensive. To use a contemporary example, Moscow views its actions vis-à-vis Ukraine as defensive, whereas Washington views Moscow’s actions vis-à-vis Ukraine as aggressive and offensive. And in Moscow’s view, NATO expansion and the movement of American weapons and military equipment towards Russia’s western frontier is seen as aggressive and offensive, whereas Washington sees these same exact actions as defensive and as being aimed towards European “defense” and “security.”
Because of the history of European aggression and invasions Russia has experienced — for instance, the Napoleonic invasion and the Nazi invasion — Russia perhaps sees NATO expansion as yet another round of European aggression and invasion through the course of time. In general, the ‘Old World’ has a longer view of history than the ‘New World,’ and the ‘New World’ often neglects the importance of history and its impact on the present moment.
Essentially, there is very little that one can do in order to bridge the gap in interpretation and perception of broad-based concepts and terms such as “defense” and “security” unless effective communication and diplomacy can overcome and bridge the gap. And because of the gaps in interpretation and perception as to what constitutes “defense” and “security” between different sides of a conflict or war, the situation tends to escalate until active and effective communication and diplomacy can prompt certain arms control measures or disarmament measures in order to de-escalate the situation.
If states are unable to put a halt to the arms buildups and escalation resulting from different perceptions and interpretations as to what constitutes broad-based concepts and terms such as “defense” and “security,” the end result is a zero-sum situation between not only different states, but also between states and their own societies, given that a society’s resources are directed away from a society’s economic and social development in order to develop arms and to exacerbate the aforementioned “Security Dilemma” with other states. There are those who are living spectacularly in the United States. But there is also a “Silent Majority” that is not as cheerful and optimistic about life.
And in the long run, arms buildups and the exacerbation of the “Security Dilemma” vis-à-vis other states is unsustainable for a state and the society which the state represents. One of the major reasons why a conflict and war comes to an end one way or another is because of this lack of sustainability, as evinced by Afghanistan most recently. Thus, conflicts and wars do come to an end one way or another. The question, however, is when and how. During my trip to Miami over the course of the last few days, I walked past an old man who had an American flag on his shirt, and over it was written: “Retired. Not my problem anymore.” I am now in the same boat as this old man, although I have no real employer to retire from.