War is an intense armed conflict[lower-alpha 1] between states, governments, societies, or paramilitary groups such as mercenaries, insurgents, and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. Warfare refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general.[2] Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, and can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant suffering and casualties.

Clockwise from top-left:
Ancient warfare: Stele of the Vultures, c. 2500 BC
Medieval warfare: Battle of Hastings, 1066
Early modern warfare: Retreat from Moscow, 1812
Industrial age warfare: Battle of the Somme, 1916
Modern warfare: Normandy landings, 1944
Nuclear warfare: Nuclear weapon test, 1954

While some war studies scholars consider war a universal and ancestral aspect of human nature,[3] others argue it is a result of specific socio-cultural, economic or ecological circumstances.[4]

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