Opinion by Helge Nome
What is one of the main driving forces behind conflict between living things, organisms of all kinds, including humans?
In order to understand conflict we need to unravel the puzzle that makes it happen. And one of the main pieces in that puzzle is the "territorial imperative". That is to say, the drive, on the part of an organism to control space around itself.
There is another aspect to this drive which is expressed in the form of cooperative, or communal, behaviour of the individual with respect to other individuals so that groups of individuals are formed to promote common interests.
This can be observed on the microbial level where bacteria form colonies within the tissues of humans and animals to survive many an onslaught of antibiotics. The same phenomenon can be observed if you happen to disturb a wasps' nest or bee hive.
Or if one group of people, forming what we call a "tribe" or "nation", decides to acquire more territory by invading land claimed by other groups of people perceived to be unable to repel an attack.
On the human level the strategists are looking for ways of influencing the odds of success to the advantage of their own tribe. So it is imperative to always be strong enough to repel an attack because you know that it will come if you have something that your neighbour "covets" and if you are not perceived to be strong enough to make the price for its conquest too high.
Now you know why places such as Afghanistan and Iraq are currently under foreign occupation. Iraq contains massive sources of oil and gas and Afghanistan is at the gateway of huge energy resources in the Caspian Sea basin. And they were both "takeable" by western reckoning.
That belief has come back to bite us all, because, as it turns out, we are dealing with a bee hive and a wasps' nest.
On our own doorstep the arctic region is now under scrutiny by our neighbours along its rim. Again, energy, which is the lifeblood of modern civilization, is the prize of the contest and hungry eyes are looking north.
The territorial imperative is an underlying motivator, along with the will-to-power.
These two pieces of the puzzle that underlies conflict go a long way towards explaining the human phenomenon we all dread: War between nations.