I just found this interesting paper in my mailbox, entitled “Statistical look at reasons of involvement in wars”: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.06228v2.pdf
The author, Igor Mackarov, has delved into data on international warfare. These data have been accumulated by the “Correlates of War” project and are saved in a large database. (Read more about the CoW project here: http://www.correlatesofwar.org/ .)
This database provides information – mostly of the statistical kind – that sheds light on the question how not only political and economical but also psychological and religious factors are connected with the decision to start a conflict or war.
Of special interest are questions like: 1) How important is the role of religion and religious beliefs when it comes to starting a war? And 2) Is religion the main factor behind the decision to start a conflict and/or war?
The CoW project provides a variety of data relevant to that kind of questions. But the answers are not totally conclusive. The jury is still out.
The defenders of the suspected culprit “Religion” say that there are also other perpetrators to be considered, for instance culprits like “Poverty”, “Famine”, “Megalomania” (not to mention the latter’s cousin “Chosenness”), “Authoritarian priming”, “Dictatorship” and so on.
On the other hand, why can’t all those suspected culprits be in (partly secret, partly open) collusion with each other? Is it pure coincidence that countries like Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, and Pakistan.display such a substantial history of disputes as they do?
Anyhow, Igor Mackarov draws the following conclusions after his statistical analysis of the data he found in the CoW project database:
1) [T]he general degree of diplomatic activity has proved to essentially depend on the level of interstate tension throughout two centuries of the world history.
2) . As to the economic factor, a strong correlation has been found between the difference of the opponents’ Composite Indexes of National Capability and the character of relations between the pair of countries. Visualization of this correlations points to onset of a dispute at the moments when the difference in the countries’ economic health rapidly changes.
3) [T]he religious factor has been shown to significantly correlate with the war/peace conditions. Countries with higher percentage of religious adherents have been more involved in wars during the last 65 years.
4) As to the Islamic factor, it hardly affects military activity greatly per se. High involvement in wars of 6 large Islamic countries [i.e. the six countries I mentioned above: Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, and Pakistan] is evidently caused by the combination of their unique politics, economics, and culture.