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Often scholarship discusses “what” happened in a war, seldom authors discuss “why”, but even fewer authors analyze multiple justifications for warfare and denounce other solutions in order to explain the importance of their argument; in other words, discuss the multiple explanations of “why”. This study utilizes three broad theories to analyze the reasons behind the Turkish War of Independence: 1) Holy War – war with the motivation of fighting by or for God/Christ; 2) Jihad – a complex religious term used to define an outer and inner religious struggle; 3) Just War - the justification of violent intervention using political, humanitarian, and even philosophical reasoning. These three theories are analyzed under the perspectives of the Ottoman Empire, the Young Turk revolutionary party, Greece, the Armenians, the French, and other combatants. This study utilizes 12 primary sources, to include a personal interview and the Quran, and is supplemented using 31 secondary sources. An analysis of this material concludes that generally the Turkish War of Independence was a “just war” that was neither preemptive nor preventive, but an act of self-defense for the creation and sustainment of Turkish culture through extremely radical actions; however, elements of all three theories are prevalent by almost all combatants. Larger implications conclude that nations, ethnicities, interest groups, and individual peoplesimply fight for different reasons. There is not a singular reason for justifying the conduct of warfare, but rather multiple broad and specific motives that determine why combatants fight in a war. Understanding several purposes exist to explain why combatants fight will continue to help scholars identify the importance of religion, philosophy, secularism, freedom, and other critical values in different societies.


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  • Event location
    • Special Collections

  • Event date
    • 3 April 2013

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Hightower