This inquiry leads students through an investigation of the nature of warfare in the 21st century. Focusing on the concept of total war, students explore how different elements of warfare from World Wars I and II compare to the way war is waged today.
Students are introduced to a definition of total war that identifies four key elements: mass mobilization, the blurring of lines between civilians and soldiers, complete destruction of the enemy, and total control of society. The inquiry begins by presenting information about World War I, organized by the same four components in the definition. Next, students explore World War II, making key comparisons with World War I. This task provides the historical context for students to then make comparisons with what war looks like today. In the third supporting question, students examine modern war examples, centering on wars fought after the Cold War Era using modern technology such as drones. These examples provide an opportunity for students to make key comparisons between historical wars and contemporary ones, using the same framework provided from the original definition of total war.