1. War is as ancient as humanity and has been studied seriously by human beings for almost as long
2. According to Ray and Kaarbo (2009: 177), there have only been 292 years without war since 3600 BCE and that since 1816 every decade has averaged around 22 wars. They add that over 150M have died from war-related deaths since 3000 BCE, though approximately 96% of those deaths have occurred in the last 400 years (1500-2000).
a. War Definitions
(1) According to Kegley and Wittkopf, (2008: 409) war is “a condition arising w/n states (civil war) OR b/n states (interstate war) when actors use violent means to destroy their opponents or coerce them into submission”
(2) Ray and Kaarbo (2009: 177) disaggregate war into two components:
i. interstate wars: wars b/n states
ii. internal, or intrastate, wars: civil wars within states
(3) Turetzky (October 6, 2009: 234pm) notes that the COW Project at the University of Michigan defines interstate war as a conflict between at least two states resulting in at least 1000 battlefield casualties...
3. Amazingly, when looking at world history, statistics show (Cioffi-Revilla 1996) that the world has been totally FREE of significant interstate, colonial, or civil war in only 1 out of every 12 years in ALL of recorded history
4. Looking again at figure 6.1 in the Ray and Kaarbo text (p. 177), we can see that a staggering 150M people have died during the wars since the year 1000—75% in the 20th century and 89% since 1800
5. Ray and Kaarbo (p. 177) add something really chilling to their catalogue of horrors: 90% of all war related casualties in recent decades (ie since WWII) have been civilians; sadly many of the civilian deaths are children. The UN estimates that in the last ten years more than 2 million children have died in armed conflicts...
5. Severity: During WWI, 8.4M soldiers and 1.4M civilians died; during WWII 16.9M soldiers and 34.3M civilians died (so you can see civilians were more of a target since WWI—ratio of soldiers to civilians killed went from 6:1 in WWI to 1:2 by WWII)
6. According to K&W (p412), interestingly, armed conflict has become increasingly concentrated in the 3rd world…since 1945, 9 out of every 10 wars have been in the weak or failed states of the Global South (Worldwatch 1999 database diskette)
7. Since 1990, most armed conflicts have occurred in Asia and Africa—regions w/the largest # of countries, largest populations, and LOWEST levels of incomes
8. On the other hand, according to Fareed Zakaria (2009: pp8-9), the world feels "very dangerous...but it isn't. Your chances of dying as a consequence of organized violence of any kind are low and getting lower. The data reveal a broad trend away from wars amoung major countries, the kind of conflict that produces massive casualties."
9. Ted Robert Gurr (2005) concurs, arguing that "the general magnitude of global warfare has decreased by over sixty percent [since the mid-1980s], falling by the end of 2004 to its lowest level since the late 1950s."
10. Zakaria suggests that violence peaked just before the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and has steadily decreased since then.
11. Harvard Sociology professor Steven Pinker (2007) argues "that today we are probably living in the most peaceful time in our species' existence"
12. Obviously war isn't obsolete, bloody wars between major powers may yet be fought, and human nature still often regresses to solving conflicts through the application of force (see especially the bloodbath that took place in Yugoslavia in the early to mid-1990s as well as the genocides taking place in Rwanda , Sudan [ongoing], and Congo [1994-2005], among others for confirmation that humans are still prone to violence) BUT in the grand historical sweep of time, the times we are living in right now are unusually calm...
13. In this lecture , we examine the causes of war from all 3 levels of analysis—what the great, seminal scholar of international relations Kenneth Waltz (1959) calls the three images of war--the individual, the state, and the international system
-Professor Kenneth Waltz
-Conversation with Kenneth Waltz at UC Berkeley
a. 1st level: that the causes of war are traceable to human nature and individual behavior
b. 2nd level: that the causes of war are traceable to states’ internal characteristics (ie economic system, type of govt, extreme love of country)
c. 3rd level: that the cause of war are found at the global level (power transitions, cycles)
II. The First Level of Analysis: Human Nature or Individual Leaders?
A. Human Nature Arguments re: the Causes of War
1. John Rourke and Mark Boyer (2009: 244-245), suggest two explanations at this level--the nature of the human species OR beliefs and behavior of individual leaders
2. Sigmund Freud argued that aggression is simply an instinctive part of human nature that stems from humans’ genetic programming and psychological makeup
3. According to Konrad Lorenz, an ethologist (“people who study animal behavior in order to understand human behavior”), Freud was right to believe that humans are instinctively deadly since they are one of the few species that practice intraspecific aggression (“routine killing of its own”) in comparison w/most other species who practice interspecific aggression (“killing only other species, except in the most unusual circumstances”)
4. Realists, of course, also argue that violence is a product of bad human nature and the fact that there is nothing (no world govt) to police this bad human nature
a. They assume that the drive for power is innate and cannot be eliminated
b. and that humans are essentially selfish and aggressive and that people murder and kill b/c of their innate genetic drives
5. Some scholars make a national character argument—(ie “the collective characteristics ascribed to the people w/n a state”)—ie that entire nationalities are predisposed to war (like Iraq, Germany in the 1930s-1940s, China today) or peace/neutrality (Costa Rica, Switzerland, etc)
6. there are a ton more biological and psychological theories of aggression—but they all center on the idea that mankind is predisposed—for whatever reason…learning, biology, psychology etc—towards violence
B. Individual Leader Arguments re: the Causes of War
1. Ralph Bunche (Nobel Prize winning former US FPM) argues that “there are no warlike people—just warlike leaders”
2. Along similar lines, 16th century English political philosopher Sir Thomas More argues that “the common folk do NOT go to war of their own accord, but are driven to it by the madness of kings”
3. IOWs individual leaders may have a personality that favors taking risks, when caution is probably the better strategic choice; they may also have a psychological need to acquire total power
a. John Stoessinger argues, for example, that Saddam Hussein is simply a "war lover"; others described him as a madman or Hitler-lite...he's also been described as having a personality driven to seek power and to dominate, which can be seen as traits not consistent with NOT being willing to cooperate
b. A lot of people have placed George W Bush "on the couch" as well to try and discern reasons for taking the US into war with Iraq in 2003. Many have suggested he has a "daddy complex" or that he ordered an attack b/c he wanted to finish what his "daddy" wasn't willing to finish. Some have suggested he ordered the attack to pay Hussein back for ordering a hit on his daddy...
4. So just keep in mind that the causes of violence and war are complex and that the theories supporting the idea that humans by nature are conflict prone are overly simplistic and really NOT supported by most of the empirical evidence
5. It is clear that individual leaders make the decisions to bring countries into wars
6. …but FPDM decisions to take a country to war are probably NOT done so b/c humans are innately aggressive, or b/c the ntl character is aggressive—
7. sometimes, an individual is so uniquely evil that he can bring a country and every so often the world, to its knees…but that is rare
A. Poverty/Level of Economic Development
1. As K&W explain, historically, the MOST warlike states have been poor—in other words, the argument here is that poverty or lack of economic development breeds war
2. this pattern persists today, as almost all of the world’s 35 interstate and internal wars are taking place in the 3rd world
3. However, keep in mind that the MOST impoverished countries in the world—like Haiti, Honduras, Somalia, Bangladesh and so on—are generally the LEAST prone to start wars---b/c they lack the military or economic resources to do so
4. As K&W suggest, most IR research suggests that when the MOST impoverished countries begin to develop economically they can then afford to acquire armaments and pay their troops
5. Cashman (1993) argues that countries are likely to initiate foreign wars AFTER sustained periods of economic growth—ie during periods of rising economic prosperity
6. A recent example is a country like China…once poor, now a lot more developed economically and hostile militarily…
7. Pakistan and India are also potential examples—they went from poor to more developed and more armed and now probably MORE likely to go to war
8. Keep in mind, however, that some countries that have moved rapidly up the economic development ladder following WWII did NOT resort to MORE aggressive, warlike behaving
9. France, Germany, Japan are examples of countries that grew more peaceful as they grew more economically developed—Question: why did these countries grow more peaceful as they developed economically while other countries—like China, the USSR, Yugoslavia—grew more belligerent?
B. Type of Government
1. The question here is: does a states’ type of government impact its likelihood of going to or waging war
2. Realists argue that type of govt is irrelevant to the likelihood of war…they argue that in an anarchic world system where there is no higher authority than the state, that the system is a self-help “war of all against all”—neo-Darwinist, survival of the fittest
3. Liberals/idealists conversely argue that type of govt DOES matter—that democratic countries DO NOT wage war against each other (Democratic Peace Proposition)—that in a world of democracies, there would be no war
4. Kant and Perpetual Peace—idea dem states don’t go to war b/c “the people” have to fight and die in them and if they have a say, will ALWAYS vote against wars; structural constraints; democratic norms
5. So democratic states DON’T GO TO WAR w/EACH OTHER BUT THEY DO FIGHT WARS—liberal scholars, call these Democratic wars against non-democratic states “defensive” or “preventative wars” against aggressive dictatorships
6. A Positive Sign?: according to Freedom House, at the start of 2009, 119 of 192 states on the planet had governments that were chosen by voters at the ballot box. They are countries which provide their citizens basic political rights and civil liberties; 66% of the world's population is either free or partly free...which, as the Dalai Lama always says, "is nice."
7. See RJ Rummel's brilliant website for more on the Democratic Peace Proposition
C. Type of Economy
-Vlad "the impaler" Lenin!!! -Leon Trotsky the younger
1. There are several variations to this idea...
a. Marxist theorists of war (Trotsky and Lenin in particular) argue that capitalist economies are inherently war like and conflict prone. They argue that capitalist states are inherently war like b/c they need to conquer other lands to secure markets, cheap labor and access to raw materials.
b. Dependency theorists argue along the same lines that capitalist states use imperialism--ie conquest--to make smaller, weaker, resource or labor rich 3rd world states dependent vassals...
c. On the other hand, many argue that capitalist states are LESS likely to want war b/c it gets in the way of doing business, gets in the way of the global supply chain, and disrupts markets, trade, and generates political and economic instability...
d. Ray and Kaarbo (190) make the points that not all capitalist states have engaged in imperialism, that war has been around longer than capitalist economic systems, and that wars between capitalist states were not fought for economic reasons...
e. They also make the point that centrally planned economies may be more inherently war prone b/c they are very often (ie see Bulgaria, North Korea, Cuba, etc) isolated economically and therefore will not hurt their economy as much as war can shrink the profits of capitalist states involved in wars...
A. Power Transition Theory
1. According to Power Transition (PT)theorists like Jacek Kugler, Ken Organski, and Doug Lemke (my former professor), when changes occur in the world’s most powerful countries’ military capabilities look out: major power wars have often been the result
2. PT theorists argue therefore that war is MORE likely—but NOT inevitable—whenever competitive states’ power ratios—differentials in their military capabilities…usually measured in terms of total spending on the military, # of men under arms and % of total milt spending/by total population—have NARROWED
3. Whereas realists argue that balances of power generally promote peace, PT theorists argue that power imbalances b/n great powers promote peace..
4. Power preponderance = more stability and less likelihood of major power war
5. This is b/c when one country has so much more power than others, the likelihood of a lesser power winning such a war is slim, hence the rational decision NOT to challenge such a hegemon in the 1st place
a. Question: why does war occur in a “Power Transition?”
b. Answer: by definition a power transition takes place when one country rapidly rises while the top power is suffering decline
6. PT theorists argue that during this transition a rapidly developing great power challenger, usually begins to believe that it may finally have the military and economic capacity to take command of the intl system---
7. But this infers that the rapidly rising challenger is a dissatisfied GP—ie not part of the “old country network” and hence probably NOT satisfied w/how the world is set up, organized and functions
8. Hence its likely willingness to challenge the GP at the top of the IR system
9. Conversely, the established and “satisfied GPs” who are suffering decline, begin to peek over their shoulders to see the rising challenger coming hard—and theoretically this GP is willing to employ force to put a brakes on their relative decline
10. Thus, when advancing and retreating states seek to cope w/changes in their relative power positions—ie during a Power Transition (b/n a rising, dissatisfied GP and a declining “satisfied” hegemonm)—WAR becomes especially likely
11. Or the hegemon may be tempted to start a preemptive war to forestall such a transition from taking place in the first place
a. Examples: Russo-Japanese War of 1905; WWI (German coalition versus British coalition); WWII (Germany and USA); Cold War
b. Question: what does the increasing economic and military power of China mean for the stability of the intl system?
B. Long Cycle Theory
1. Besides the idea of Power Transitions, another prominent theory at this level of analysis is the idea of “long cycles” of great power rises and declines
2. K&W (p432): “an interpretation of world history that focuses on repeating patterns of interstate behavior, such as the outbreak of system-wide general wars at regular intervals, after long periods during which other patterns (global peace) were dominant”
3. That isn’t a very clear definition of the theory—let’s more clearly examine the theory.
4. The theory seeks to explain: the rise and fall of great powers and periods of war and peace
5. The theory claims: global system goes through distinct and identifiable cycles or patterns of behavior, usually 50 to 100 year cycles of GPs rising and declining—usually GP war causes a country to rise and another to decline
6. According to George Modelski
Modelski was the originator of this theory—since AD 1500, 4 STATES have played dominant, or hegemonic (“a single, dominant military and economic state that uses its power…to preserve existing world order and its own position in that order”), roles, each one corresponding to a LONG (50 to 100 year) CYCLE—Portugal, Dutch, Britain, and USA
a. Portuguese Cycle (most of 16th century):
b. Dutch Cycle (most of 17th century):
c. British Cycle (1700-1790 and 1815 to 1945):
d. U.S. Cycle (1945-present):
7. As K&W suggest, these countries rise to become the hegemonic power & remain in that position about 100 years—and then the hegemon declines and another GP takes its place atop the world hierarchy…Modelski notes that WAR tends to mark the end of one cycle and the beginning of another
8. He also notes that as with long-term business cycles (of boom and bust), world order is also subject to decay—Question: how does a system and a GP decay?
9. Modelski argues that during their cycle of domination, the Portuguese, Dutch, British and US “monopolized military power and trade and determined the system’s rules
10. Question: None of these GPs however, were able to maintain this domination forever—why?
a. Some possible answers (see especially, Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Decline of the Great Powers):
- They overcommit
- Too costly to maintain such domination (ie “Imperial Overstretch”)
- The appearance of rivals deligitimizes the hegemon’s authority
- Eventually challengers gain in strength and “global war” breaks out—Napoleanic Wars, WWs I and II, the Cold War and so on—and a period of peace and hegemonic domination begins anew
- Question: if one accepts the long-cycle view of war and peace, GP rise and decline, is it therefore likely (or even inevitable) that US global dominance will eventually decay?
1. I think we know the argument here: realists argue that b/c the intl system is anarchic--no overarching world government with the capacity to make and enforce laws-each stateMUST look out for its national interests (generally defined as security) or risk losing out in a war of "all against all" (Hobbes, Leviathan).
2. In such a system, realists argue that all states--even the ones who "love peace" for its own sake--need to "self help" and strike aggressive poses for their own coolective survival.
3. Ray and Kaarbo (p 181) call this the "security dilemma" which is a fancy way of saying that when one state (say Iran) tries to enhance its power for security usually leads other states to do the same thing, which ineluctably leads to less security for all states (again, see the North Korean and Iranian examples)
4. Realists and structural-realists see therefore see war, conflict, and violence as an inevitable outcome of this anarchic international realm. In plain english wars occur b/c there is no central authority to restrain them and to protect the weaker countries from being preyed upon by the larger, more powerful ones (though sometimes smaller states sometimes defeat more powerful adversaries...)