INTERNET SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_war
Total war is warfare that mobilizes all of the resources of society to fight the war, and gives priority to warfare over civilian needs. It also includes attacks on the civilian infrastructure that supports the enemy war effort. American-English Dictionary defines "total war" as "war that is unrestricted in terms of the weapons used, the territory or combatants involved, or the objectives pursued, especially one in which the laws of war are disregarded."
In the mid-19th century, scholars identified "total war" as a separate class of warfare. In a total war, to an extent inapplicable to less total conflicts, the differentiation between combatants and non-combatants diminishes and even sometimes vanishes entirely as opposing sides can consider nearly every human resource, even that of non-combatants, as nevertheless part of the war effort.
Actions that may characterize the post-19th century concept of total war include:
· strategic bombing, as during: World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War (Operations Rolling Thunder and Linebacker II)
· blockade and sieging of population centers, as per: the Siege of Leningrad and the Allied blockade of Germany during the First and Second World Wars.
· scorched earth policy, as per: the March to the Sea during the American Civil War and the Japanese "Three Alls Policy" during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
· commerce raiding, tonnage war, and unrestricted submarine warfare, as per: privateering, the German U-Boat campaigns of the First and Second World Wars, and the United States submarine campaign against Japan during World War II.
· collective punishment, pacification operations, and reprisals against populations deemed hostile, as per: the execution and deportation of suspected Communards following the fall of the 1871 Paris Commune or German reprisal policy targeting resistance movements, insurgents, and Untermenschen such as in France(e.g. Maillé massacre) and Poland.
· the use of civilians and prisoners of war as forced labor for military operations, as with Japan and Germany's massive use of forced laborers of other nations during World War II (see Slavery in Japan and Forced labor under German rule during World War II)
2 Early history
3 18th and 19th centuries
3.1 Intertribal warfare
3.2 French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars
3.3 Taiping Rebellion
3.4 American Civil War
4 20th century
4.1 World War I
4.2 World War II
4.2.1 Shōwa Japan
4.2.2 United Kingdom
4.2.4 Soviet Union
4.2.5 United States
4.2.6 Unconditional surrender
4.3 Postwar era
Since the end of World War II, no industrial nations have fought such a large, decisive war. This is likely due to the availability of nuclear weapons, whose destructive power and quick deployment render a full mobilization of a country's resources such as in World War II unnecessary. Such weapons are developed and maintained with relatively modest peacetime defense budgets.
By the end of the 1950s, the ideological stand-off of the Cold War between the Western World and the Soviet Union had resulted in thousands of nuclear weapons being aimed by each side at the other. Strategically, the equal balance of destructive power possessed by each side situation came to be known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), considering that a nuclear attack by one superpower would result in nuclear counter-strike by the other. This would result in hundreds of millions of deaths in a world where, in words widely attributed to Nikita Khrushchev, "The living will envy the dead".
During the Cold War, the two superpowers sought to avoid open conflict between their respective forces, as both sides recognized that such a clash could very easily escalate, and quickly involve nuclear weapons. Instead, the superpowers fought each other through their involvement in proxy wars, military buildups, and diplomatic standoffs.
In the case of proxy wars, each superpower supported its respective allies in conflicts with forces aligned with the other superpower, such as in the Vietnam War and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.