yeah, pretty much..
that and slavery of allegiance to fabricated symbols, to the point where it doesn't matter what is being enacted in their names... all that matters are the symbols-- their perceived built-in purity or nobility-- and the lack thereof or "threat" from other symbols. To me, it seems this is the only way violence is spread on a large scale.
Obviously, the world is split up into various groups, each based on different cultural values and attendant invented symbols. If it were left up to "the masses" who are simply getting on with life, perhaps full-scale war would be a rare occurence. But even among "free societies", it is astonishingly easy for just one man with power to incite many against many. The usual pattern: 1) stress forms within the group, perhaps an economic downturn or clash of competing values; possibly skirmishes here and there. 2) a general dissatisfaction or apprehension builds. 3) a demagogue begins his name-calling, identifying scapegoats and inciting the majority to unite behind their symbol(s). 4)"The many" are thus relatively easy to convince that they must wage war for their own survival and welfare..... or some variation of this.
This pattern applies mostly to campaigns of aggression or even "preemption", sold as unavoidably necessary means to a better end and/or to "survival". Of course, if your group is on the receiving end of "symbol attacking symbol", then I suppose self-defense can be in order. Notice for example how the rest of the world generally understood and did not object to the U.S. fight against al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
I would say Hitler's rise to power was made possible due to effective name-calling and slavery to symbols. I would say the same about the Vietnam war and last year's Iraq invasion, although I'm sure many would disagree. As for what motivates the name-calling leaders to begin with, I won't try to get into that right now.
One more note. When I participate in discussions like these, I think about war in terms of policy.... how is it "justifiable" at that level. On a deeper level, I consider war essentially impossible to justify on the level of individual morality. In war, you attempt premeditated murder based solely on group affiliation... a reprehensible act at its core, especially if your enemy has been conscripted. But is there such a thing as a morally justified war? What about interventions to stop genocide, for example? This is the hard question which tears at me. I don't think I'll ever have "the answer".
Anyway.... that's more than enough for now. Sorry for the ramble.