The Enigma of Ongoing Conflicts – Why History Fails to Prevent Wars.

on November 1, 2023
This article was written by Catherine Mendez Pena.


Wars and conflicts have been a recurring theme in human history. From tribal skirmishes in ancient times to modern world wars, violence and conflict remain a persistent part of our existence. One might wonder why, when we possess the knowledge of our past, the lessons learned, and the horrors of war, we still find ourselves embroiled in conflicts. This article delves into the complex and paradoxical reasons behind the persistence of war despite our historical awareness.

The Israel-Hamas Conflict

In our modern world, news about conflicts such as the ongoing Israel-Hamas struggle underscores the urgency of this question: Have we learned anything from history? This protracted conflict, rooted in decades of historical, political, and cultural factors, forces us to re-evaluate the effectiveness of our historical knowledge in preventing wars. The Israel-Hamas conflict is a stark reminder that even when we have a profound understanding of the past, it can be challenging to translate that knowledge into a means to avoid or end wars.

Human Nature and the Instinct for Survival

Human nature is deeply rooted in territorial instincts and the instinct for survival. This primal urge often overrides our ability to learn from the past. When faced with perceived threats, nations and individuals may prioritize their immediate survival over historical lessons. In times of crisis, the instinct for self-preservation can cloud our judgment, leading to aggression and conflict.

National Interests and Geopolitical Realities

The pursuit of national interests and geopolitical strategies can also drive nations into conflict, regardless of historical knowledge. In a world where countries vie for power, resources, and influence, the pursuit of self-interest can sometimes eclipse the wisdom of the past. This pursuit of national interests may lead nations to act in ways that seem to defy historical lessons, such as engaging in aggressive military actions, launching invasions, or pursuing territorial expansion.

Cultural and Religious Divides

Cultural and religious differences have historically been a source of conflict. Even with an awareness of past atrocities resulting from these divides, cultural and religious tensions can still lead to violence. Deep-seated beliefs, values, and the desire to protect one’s culture or faith can drive people to wage war.


The Israel-Hamas conflict, like many other ongoing conflicts around the world, underscores the complexities and challenges of applying historical knowledge to the prevention of wars. The knowledge of history can be a valuable resource for preventing conflicts and wars, but it is far from fool proof. It reminds us that understanding our past is a crucial first step, but translating that understanding into action to prevent or end conflicts requires addressing the complex interplay of human nature, national interests, cultural divides, and shifting geopolitical realities. While history can guide us, it is our collective responsibility to apply these lessons and strive for a world where war becomes the exception rather than the rule.

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