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Introduction

War is a state of armed conflict between states, governments, societies and informal 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. 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.

The scholarly study of war is sometimes called polemology (/ˌpɒləˈmɒləi/ POL-ə-MOL-ə-jee), from the Greek polemos, meaning "war", and -logy, meaning "the study of".

While some scholars see war as a universal and ancestral aspect of human nature, others argue it is a result of specific socio-cultural or ecological circumstances.

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Epaminondas

Epaminondas was a Theban general and statesman who transformed Thebes, leading it out of Spartan subjugation into a preeminent position in Greek geopolitics. In the process he broke Spartan military power with his victory at Leuctra and liberated the Messenian helotsPeloponnesian Greeks who had been enslaved under Spartan rule for some 200 years. Epaminondas reshaped the political map of Greece, fragmented old alliances, created new ones, and supervised the construction of entire cities. He was militarily influential as well; he invented several major battlefield tactics. Cicero once called him "the first man of Greece", but Epaminondas has fallen into relative obscurity in modern times. The changes he wrought on the Greek political order did not long outlive him, as the cycle of shifting hegemonies and alliances continued unabated. Just 27 years after his death, a recalcitrant Thebes was obliterated by Alexander the Great. Thus Epaminondas—who had been praised in his time as an idealist and liberator—is today largely remembered for a decade (371 to 362 BC) of campaigning that sapped the strength of the great land powers of Greece and paved the way for the Macedonian conquest.

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A young Marine private waits on the beach during the Marine landing at Da Nang, Vietnam — August 3, 1965

A young Marine private waits on the beach during the Marine landing at Da Nang, Vietnam — August 3, 1965.
Photo credit: Unknown - NARA archive

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