THE SO-CALLED LAW OF WAR
THE CAUSES, CHARACTERISTICS, AND FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF WAR
329. Definition of War. -- War, in a material sense, is a struggle or contention between States and belligerent or insurgent communities by means of organized armed forces. In a legal sense, war is the status or condition under which such a contest is carried on, and consists of the rules by which it is supposed to be regulated.1
330. War a Political Fact rather than a Legal Right .-- War is a political fact recognized and, to a certain extent, regulated by the Law of Nations; but, though the source of legal rights and duties, it is not a right in the ordinary legal sense of this term. Like intervention,2 for example, war is an exercise of sovereign or high political power -- a quality assumed to be inherent in sovereignty itself. The State which goes to war performs a political act, whether from pure political motives or as a means of self-help, presumably after all attempts to arrive at an amicable mode of settlement have failed.3____________________
Ever since the days of Gentilis (who defined war as a "contention") and Grotius (who described it as a "condition"), authorities have differed on this point. As in the case of some other controversies of a similar nature, the truth is that both sides are in the right.