The lessons many of us took from playgrounds are helpful in analyzing war, although war, being humanity’s stupidest activity, is less excusable and less interesting than playground dynamics. Grownups, after all, are supposed to be wiser and more mature than kids. Realizing that most aren’t is one of those rites of passage into adulthood.
On the playground you’ll find one or more bullies, who terrorize the weaker, smaller kids. The bullies tend to form their own clique. Their victims try to stay out of their way, but bullies gotta bully. The victims quickly learn that appealing to adult authority is guaranteed trouble. While bullies may be reprimanded or otherwise punished, they have ways of dealing with upstarts and snitches, and their revenge is always disproportionate.
Once in a too great while the oppressed band together and take revenge on their oppressors, or a bully misjudges a kid as a potential victim and finds out the hard way that the kid knows how to take care of him or herself. Often in such circumstances, bullies will make their own ludicrous appeal to authority, complaining that they’re being picked on.