Wars are not ending any time soon. In 2014, there were 40 wars, the highest number since 1999. Plato’s aphorism, “Only the dead have seen the last of war,” still rings true. The next war will be different from its predecessor. 21st century wars are turning out to be very different than those in the 20th century. Even in the 20th century, the Second World War, with its heavy reliance on armoured warfare was not the same as the First World War with its emphasis on digging up trenches. Nor was the Great War the same as Napoleon’s Wars with their emphasis on cavalry attacks. Tactics in wars change because the technology with which to wreak havoc on the enemy changes with every passing decade and it changes with the evolving ambitions of the State. Can an army chief predict when the next war will break out? Not until a number of subsidiary questions have been answered. For example, who is the enemy? What is their strategic objective? Do they have the intent to wage war? Do they have the capacity to wage war? What tactics will they pursue to attain their strategic objective? Since prediction is difficult, generals keep on fighting the last war, a point noted by Lawrence Freedman, a Professor emeritus at King’s College and a prolific military historian and popular lecturer. His latest book is The Future of War. He says prediction, which is never easy, is also likely to be wrong. Then why go to war? In my social studies class at St Mary’s High School, Sukkur, I learned that wars break out when there is a conflict of interest between states which cannot be resolved politically. At the University of California, Davis, I read General Clausewitz’s opus, Vom Kriege, and came across his most cited aphorism, “War is a continuation of politics by other means.” When do wars happen? Margaret Atwood, in a poem published in Harper’s Magazine, noted: “Wars happen because the ones who start them think they can win.” It takes a lot of hubris to think that you can win a war. Once hubris enters the mind, notes Freedman, war is not likely to “be far behind.” Pakistan’s army chief famously alluded to a ‘hybrid war’ that was being waged by Pakistan’s enemies in his commencement address at Kakul. I am sure that sent the cadets scrambling to understand what that term meant. The term was coined in 2005 by General James Mattis, the current secretary of defence in the US. Mattis, in a co-authored paper, said that a hybrid war was fought in four-dimensional space: feeding and clothing displaced refugees; holding warring tribes apart; fighting lethal conventional battles; and waging a psychological war. Over time, the term acquired a broader meaning and encompassed state-sponsored violence in all its manifestations, “including terrorism, criminality, and conventional operations, along with the extensive use of information operations.” Freedman mentions two examples of hybrid war. The first one was Hezbollah’s campaign against Israel in 2006 in Lebanon in which Hezbollah’s leaders successfully fused a conventional army with a guerrilla force, thereby limiting the effectiveness of Israeli air superiority. The second one was Russia’s war in Ukraine in 2014. In the prior year, the Russian chief of general staff, Valery Gerasimov had concluded that “wars were not declared but simply begin” so that “a completely well-off and stable country” could be transformed into “an arena of the most intense armed conflict in a matter of months or even days.” It is time that Pakistan and India turn their energies towards fighting poverty, illiteracy, and disease Russia sought to apply these ideas in Ukraine once the president had fled and an anti-Russia leader replaced him. He says, “Moscow moved first to annex Crimea while launching an incursion into parts of Eastern Ukraine, all while claiming that these were indigenous, spontaneous, popular movements.” Even back in the 2000’s, long before General Bajwa took over as army chief, the Pakistani army had been saying that India was waging a hybrid war against Pakistan by building a series of consulates in Afghanistan. I first heard of this at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. Nowadays, the ‘poster child’ of hybrid war is the Indian naval officer who has been charged with espionage. East Pakistan’s secession in 1971 is now being blamed on India’s hybrid war in that province. The world knows that the secession was triggered by army action in East Pakistan, which was triggered by General Yahya Khan’s refusal to honour the results of the 1970 general elections. So why blame it on India? Once again India is being painted as the bad guy, fighting a hybrid war because it cannot afford to take on Pakistan in the open. But neither can Pakistan take on nuclear-armed India, which is seven times bigger in size, and whose conventional forces are two to four times bigger. Thus, it is also fighting a hybrid war. Indeed, it introduced the concept in the Subcontinent when it attempted to free Kashmir from Indian rule in October 1947, which gave India an excuse to airlift troops to seize Srinagar, eliminating Pakistan’s prospects of seizing Jammu and Kashmir. In 1965, Pakistan made a second attempt to liberate Jammu and Kashmir. When that failed, it sent in the army to capture Akhnur which stalled after capturing Chamb. Indian counterattacked in Lahore and Sialkot, putting an end to the hostilities. In 1999, Pakistan’s incursion into Kargil yielded reams of international condemnation but not an inch of Kashmir. For Pakistan, hybrid wars have not yielded any positive results. Freedman says war’s ‘purposes can never justify the costs.’ Those who wage war underestimate their enemy’s capabilities. They believe that by acting promptly and in the right place, the war will end quickly with minimal causalities. It never occurs to them that their first blow may not ‘floor the opponent, or how a war’s course might be increasingly determined by non-military factors, including the formation and breaking of alliances, underlying economic and demographic strength or the public’s tolerance to make sacrifices and tolerate causalities.’ In general, wars have brought nothing but sorrow to mankind. In The Better Angels of Our Nature Harvard’s cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker uses empirical data to show that barring a few exceptions, humans are getting progressively better at avoiding violence and wars. It is time that Pakistan and India turn their energy towards fighting poverty, illiteracy, and disease and end what Indiana University’s Sumit Ganguly discussed in his book, Conflict Unending. The writer can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, May 20th 2018.