casus belli

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  • noun

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an event used to justify starting a war

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He shows how women, who were the causus belli of most serious duels, were defended in this system of gallantry only in their capacity as the possessions and child-bearers of their "noble" consorts, and he provides a thorough account of dueling etiquette and the hardware gentlemen used in their affairs of honor.
Not only did the academy lose many of its cherished sons-about 300 West Pointers died in Southeast Asia-but when Americans grew weary of the conflict, their hostility inevitably was directed at the academy, as though it was the causus belli rather than an instrument of the war.