Nationalism is often blamed for the devastating wars of the modern period, but is this fair? Critics pinpoint four dangerous aspects of nationalism: its utopian ideology (originating in the late 18th century), its cult of the war dead, the mass character of its wars, and its encouragement of the break-up of states. I argue, however, that the case against nationalism is not proven.
There are at least four ways in which warfare in its changing forms has been formative in the rise and transformation of national collectivities. First, warfare has been central for much nation-state formation. Most nation-states that came into existence before the mid-20th century were created by war or had their boundaries defined by wars or internal violence.