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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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Franco-Venetian alliance decisively defeated the Holy League at the Battle of Marignano
The War of the League of Cambrai was a major conflict in the Italian Wars, occurring from 1508 to 1516. The principal participants of the war were France, the Papal States, and the Republic of Venice. Pope Julius II had intended that the war would curb Venetian influence in northern Italy, and had, to this end, created the League of Cambrai (named after Cambrai, where the negotiations took place), an alliance against the Republic that included, besides himself, Louis XII of France, Emperor Maximilian I, and Ferdinand I of Spain. Although the League was initially successful, friction between Julius and Louis caused it to collapse by 1510; Julius then allied himself with Venice against France. The Veneto-Papal alliance eventually expanded into the Holy League, which drove the French from Italy in 1512; disagreements about the division of the spoils, however, led Venice to abandon the alliance in favor of one with France. Under the leadership of Francis I, who had succeeded Louis to the throne, the French and Venetians would, through their victory at Marignano in 1515, regain the territory they had lost; the treaties of Noyon and Brussels, which ended the war the next year, would essentially return the map of Italy to the status quo of 1508.

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Lowering the flag on Zuikaku

Zuikaku was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Her planes took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor that started the Pacific War, and she fought in several of the most important naval battles of the war. Sustaining heavy damage in the battle off Cape Engaño, the crew lowered the flag (shown here; note the sharp list to port) and attempted to abandon ship, but were unable to do so before she capsized.
Photo credit: Kazutoshi Hando

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Genocide • Peace • United Nations

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