War has been a part of human culture since it's birth. It has led to a great many massacres and has shown us the evil that exists within the souls of humanity. Some have even one as far as saying that war is human nature. To better understand the reasons behind war and how it affects others, I've examined several different societies and cultures so as to better understand the necessity of war and see the cause of their external war attitude. To do so, different variables from two topics (military institutions and external war attitude) were matched up and crossed so as to look into the answers to these questions. The variables were then calculated and through these graphs, I was able to find different societies in which these variables applied to. The different variables that I looked into were that of hostility toward other societies, acceptability of violence toward people in other societies, decision to engage in war, leadership during battle, and the value of war: violence against non-members or groups
Through my research of the various variables, I came across several different societies that scored highly on my variable chart. To further test my hypothesis, I've taken these various variables and researched them through different societies to either prove or disprove my hypothesis. My research begins with the Somalis. These are a people of Muslim descent in the Horn of Africa and they live in the Somali Democratic Republic. Warfare to the Somalis was seen as a division of labor in that is was the principle means of acquiring cattle. In times of war, peasants would be taken from his home for months at a time. Warfare was organized by the chiefs on behalf of the kin and it was the duty of every able bodied man to take part in it (pg 133 Philip)." In order for one to become wealthy within a society, they must earn it through the privilege of authority.
During battle, leadership among the Somalis is led by a general who the king feels will be the right one only after having a consultation with the appropriate spirits. He also selected the people of certain sazas "to guard the king." These people did so simply by staying home. The leaders of the armies were forceful during wartime. "Every able bodied man was expected to turn out, but though the penalty for cowardice in the field was instant death by burning, people who simply stayed at home were merely fined on their chief's return (P. 193 Philips) The message of war would then be indicated through the beating of war drums which would be kept up and passed in that soon the alarm would go through the whole country.
Another variable in which I look at is that of the prestige associated with being a soldier or warrior. In this there is a greatness to being a warrior. As mentioned earlier, wealth came with courage of a warrior in war. A warrior with war paint showed that he is one really fierce guy. The weapons used were two spears, a stick, and a wicker-work shield. Warriors would never leave home without it. If a warrior shows weakness, he is humiliated or even killed. Warriors are seen very seriously and have high expectations to fulfill. Such warriors were able to climb the ranks if they prove themselves during battle. They would receive a promotion, a share of the spoils that were captured during the battle, and even given a chieftainship.
Another society that I've researched is that of the Azande people. Before European occupation of the Azande, warfare occupied a great part of the male Zande's time, and the Azande were noted and redoubtable warriors. Being a warrior brought great pride to a man. A man of a lower status was able to be an important man through being a great warrior. War was seen as an important thing to the Azande and the building of an important and strong military was just as important. Wars were mainly the culmination of a long period of hostility and jealousy between chiefdoms. There was almost a constant of war between different chiefs. It is through such wars that different chiefs were able to raise in prestige and power. These chiefs were constantly looking to increase the number of their subjects and prestige by conquering and absorbing their non-Zande neighbors. They would do this by dispatching spies into these neighboring villages and act as a guide to the enemies troops. "The comparative efficiency of their military organization is demonstrated by the extent of their conquests (pg 62, Baxter & Butt)." The warriors of the Azande were made up by two types of young men who were the ones that were constantly being recruited. These two groups were: those who's families for some reason were poor, who sought advancement at court, where the chief's favor would compensate for their social shortcomings; it was probably men of this class who received wives without payment of bridewealth. Having a core group of powerful warriors reinforced the leadership and authority of a chief. Even when the warriors may be and embarrassment, a chief who had ability could direct the organization to strengthen his own personal power. The duty of warriors was to keep under observation the network of connecting paths around the chief's court, especially if the chief was suspicious of the loyalty of any of his followers. Starting a war was quite a complicated procedure for the Azande. The chief was the only person able to declare war or make peace and he could initiate proceedings by consulting his oracle to see if the time was propitious for war. The power of a chief was there only if he satisfied his people. If the chief did not distribute the booty and good fortune with his people, they might refuse to follow him to war. Today, this type of a military organization is quite dead.
Another group of people that I take look into is that of the Maori. The Maori are a group of people who's homeland was in Hawaiki. Yet the wars in their homeland brought them over to New Zealand. The main reason of these wars was for acquisition of lands. "As tribes and their chiefs built up their prestige, they became very resentful of any remarks of a disparaging nature, which were regarded as personal insults. An insult, if it went unnoticed, lowered chiefly and tribal prestige (p387 Buck)." This shows the importance of war to the Maori. It brought a chief and his tribe respect and along with that respect more territory and more prestige. During the mobilization of a war-party, the chief's authority was supreme. There were no consultations as was seen with the previous African tribes. Leadership of the tribe on and off battle was an important factor to the prestige of a group.
War was started in many ways within the Maori. Some wars could easily be started by the boasting of a chief. "An inimical act, such as murder by an individual of another tribe, was sufficient cause for an attack against the culprit's tribe, and, son long as some members of that tribe were killed, it did not matter if the real culprit escaped (p388 Buck)."
The warriors of the Maori chiefs were the reason for the power that a chief gains. "The fame of the warrior was held to be transient as compared with that of the provider of food, yet the fact remains that noted warriors received more publicity in song and story that their contemporaries in the peaceful arts (p399, Buck)." The fame of noted warriors spread far beyond their tribal bounds and intense rivalry and jealousy existed among the champions of the different tribes. Warriors would thus find descriptions of their rivals so that they would better be able to identify the them on a crowded battlefield. Warriors also were able to gain prestige from the quality of the men that they killed and not from the number of men that they had killed. This was similar to the battles as well. No matter how great a number of the dead and deceased after a battle, if there was no chief killed, the battle was not one to talk about. Usually if a person of the opposing tribe were to be captured, he would be taken as a slave or even eaten. Eating one's enemy shows an intense hate for that person.
The next group of people that I take a look into is that of the Hurons. The Hurons were a Confederacy of Northern Iroquoian speaking American Indians who in the early 17th century were located southeast of Georgian Bar in present Ontario, Canada. The Hurons were a strong people who were great warriors as well. Not only were they great warriors, but they were fierce as well and the battles that they endured were very enduring and vehement. Warfare between the Indians was at times so intense that the women could not till the ground and raise corn unless they had with them at all times a man with weapons to protect them. When war was declared, all villages would be destroyed if the defense meant to hold back the opposing forces was not strong enough. Warriors were a very important part of the Huron people.
They protected the villages and made sure that villages were ready for an upcoming attack. They were heavily relied upon by the chief of a village and by the village's people. Warriors were sent out to ascertain the whereabouts of the enemy while others were encouraged to make weapons and otherwise prepare themselves to defend the village. If there really was not a need for a large army of warriors, they would then move along to different villages to give them a hand in their procedures in preparing for an enemy surprise attack.
Villages mainly contained two chiefs. These two chiefs were the war chief and the council chief. In the past, only worthy men were chiefs though a good chief and the country were synonymous. The Hurons were more organized than most others in that they formed a group known as the Huron League in which different villages met together made their treaties.
The last society that I take an in depth look into is that of the Nahua who are more commonly known and recognized as the Aztecs. These are a people who lived in the country that we now know as Mexico. The Aztecs were an elaborate people with a high state of culture. They were a people with writing, numerical notation, a chronology, and an elaborate machinery of government and justice.
The Aztec regarded war as something sacred. They were a people whose empire rested on foundations of war and human sacrifice and yet were refined lovers of beauty. "The mystique of perpetual was and human sacrifice in order to maintain the life of the universe coexisted with more humane readings in Tenochititlan itself (p44, Keen)." The Aztec had gone through innumerable wars in the name of the "cosmic need for human sacrifice." It is through this that we see two different frames of mind in the Aztec society: "on the one hand, a degenerate mysticism supporting an ambitious strategy of conquest; on the other, the doctrine of Quetzalcoatl that inner perfection and spiritual sacrifice formed the only moral basis of life (p45, Keen)." The Aztec became more militaristic after the change of outlooks due to the genius of the Aztec military leader Tlacaelel. He was known as the Aztec Alexander. He fastened upon his people the cult of warfare and human sacrifices as a means of preserving the life of the sun. It was not until the end of the fifteenth century in which the Aztecs gave into the primacy of the cult of was and human sacrifice and it's military virtues. This happened due to the tension between the political and economic evolution. Predatory warfare poured into Tenochtitlan and its allied cities a mass of wealth, of luxury goods, that in time engendered milder manners and attitudes, a growth of refinement, a revival of the "Toltec" ideals of life. But these flowers grew on the soil of perpetual war that was sanctioned by the cosmic need for human sacrifice (p47, Keen)." Their conquest for more riches interrupted the Aztec internal evolution. It prevented them from achieving such an advance and attaining new levels of material, social, and intellectual greatness.
The Aztecs waged wars with or without cause. Refusal to pay tribute would be a sufficient reason to go to war with another peoples. Injuries to Aztec merchants by people of another region was cause for an invasion. These merchants also prepared the way for conquest by reporting on the resources and defenses of the regions in which they traded. The Aztecs waged war according to a complex ritual; "successive embassies were sent to a recalcitrant people with warnings to submit within a specified period of time; these ambassadors brought symbolic gifts of war clubs and shields to the prospective foes and performed various ritualistic acts (p12, Keen)." If the other group of people did not submit, the Aztecs began preparations for war. The leaders of the armies were the Clan leaders. They were the ones who made sure that preparations of supplies were ready to muster up their forces Their own allies turned on the Aztecs due to their arrogance and soon, their powerful nation was wiped from the face of the earth.
In reviewing these different cultures, I've come across the fact that the war attitudes that each culture had was that of expansion. They looked upon other cultures with dismay and felt that supremacy was their right. Never the less, they have all had their share of victories and defeats.