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Theory of International RelationsDr.YujenKuoBobby Ritter
Prerequisites of aGeneral Theory of Conflict and War
No single general theory of conflict and war exists that is acceptable tosocial scientists.Historians most interested in causes of specific wars.Conflict, as defined by Lewis A.Cosner, is a “struggle over values, and claims to scarce status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure, or eliminate their rivals.” Conflict may be violent or nonviolent.
Michael Howard examines fear as a cause of war where he takes as an example Thucydides where he had written that the cause of the Peloponnesian war was “the growth of Athenian power and thefearthis caused in Sparta”.Howard also uses WWI as an example stating that the growth of Germany’s power and thefearthis aroused in Britain as the principle cause for this war.
DonaldKaganin his effort to understand at a general level the origins of war sees war not as an aberration but instead as a recurringphenonenom.Kaganbelieves war is the result of competition for power. Seeking power for greater security, economic gain, greater prestige, respect, deference, honor.
Kaganconcludes thatfearwhich is often unclear and intangible accounts for the persistence of war as a part of the human condition not likely to change.Both Howard andKaganseefearas a central component that may lead to war. These two scholars are not specifically stating the fear is the cause of war but a central variable that may lead to war.
Comprehensive Theory of Conflict and War
No agreement on the causes of war.A comprehensive theory must have inputs from various disciplines from biology, political science, military strategy to religion.Even all these inputs may not be sufficient because no single cause for conflict or war can be identified and the causes have kept multiplying throughout history.
Kenneth Waltz identifies 3 levels of analysis to examine the causes of war 1) war is traceable to human nature and behavior; 2) seek the explanation of war in the internal structure of the state, includes both liberals (democracies are more peaceful than dictatorships) and Marxist-Leninists (capitalist states foment war, whereas socialism leads to peace); 3) international anarchy – absence of law and organization that would be efficacious for peacekeeping.
Waltz goes beyond the study of specific wars to explain the more general phenomenon of war itself.Waltz examines war as a function of the balance of power in an anarchic state system.Elimination of conflict impossible and undesirable. Conflict in some forms is a condition of social change and progress.
Micro and Macro Theories of Conflict
Origins of Conflict – Human Beings or Structures andInstitiutions.Some scholars emphasis the study of groups while others prefer to divide their efforts focusing on both the Micro and the Macro dimensions like clash of nation states/and personality, background of an individual state leader.Theory of Conflict – Assimilation of both Micro and Macro dimensions is necessary.
Individuals and International Conflict
Movement away from extrapolating group aggression from individual aggression.Witheyand Daniel Katz – advise against attempt to “explain the functioning of social systems by a simple reduction of a macroscopic process.”Herbert C.Kelman– psychological analysis is useful to the study of aggressive behavior in an international context only if we know how such individuals fit into the larger political and social framework of the nation and the international system.
Conflict and Social Integration
Social Conflict – rational, constructive, and socially functional or irrational, pathological, and socially dysfunctional.Western psychologists/social psychologists – all violent forms of individual, group, and politicized aggression are irrational departures from normal behavior.European and American sociologists/anthropologists – attribute a constructive purpose to conflict as long as it contributes to socioeconomic change in a progressive direction.
Varieties of Conflict
International war – most important with regards to potential consequences.Social conflicts – civil war, revolution, coups, brawls, psychological warfare, sports events, etc.Explaining human conflict in terms of unconscious/conscious motivations.
Theories of War and its Causes in Antiquity
Value of Prescientific TheoriesHow problem of war was viewed in other historical epochs.Reflect conscious motivations for and rationalizations of warProvide philosophical, religious, political, and psychological arguments for and against war.
Mo-Ti – Preached universal love. Considered war large-scale murder.Confucius – Not a pacifist. States in dealing with each other should observe good faith and moderation. If war is inevitable, wage it vigorously.Lord Shang – advised rulers to make the peasants work long and hard. When war comes they will welcome it with relief.
War accepted as part of eternal scheme of things.Hindu/Buddhist teachers – war naturally occurringphenomenom.Gandhi’s Doctrine of Non Violence – did not forbid the waging of war.
Heraclitus – if war should perish, the universe would be destroyed.Plato – war results from the unwillingness of human beings to live within the limits of necessity.Aristotle – war legitimate instrument for settling interstate disputes.
Pericles – glorified the heroism of the Athenians who died defending their open, democratic society.Thucydides – accepted war as a matter of defense rather than conquest or annihilation.Greeks believed they were superior to all non-Greeks and in the treaty of theAmphictyonicLeague of Delphi prohibited war among members except for a good cause.
Meticulous in observing the rules of war.Before embarking on war Romans felt it necessary to convince themselves their cause was just and pious.Romans believed that no greater force should be used in war than required by “legitimate military necessity.”
Muhammad – preached holy war (Jihad).War used to incorporate recalcitrant peoples into the peaceful territory of Islam.Jihad refers less to military conflict than to the spiritual struggle for perfection within the heart of individuals.Gandhi declared that he was able to perceive the origins of the doctrine of nonviolence not only in the Hindu and the Buddhist scripts but also in the Koran.
Jewish Scriptures – paradox between peaceful existence and the constant recurrence of war.Israelites – relied on combination of religiousprophetismand military organization for nation building, defense and territorial expansion.Once promised land had been won, the wars of Israel and Judah became less ferocious and love, justice, and peace became moreprevelant.
War and Christianity
Early Catholic Church leaned toward pacifism.Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine – baptized the ancient Roman doctrine of the just war as a “sad necessity in the eyes of men of principle.”Middle Ages/Catholic Church – attempted to impose ethical controls on the conduct of war.In the transition from Medieval and modern Europe, war became an all-consuming psychological and moral experience.
The Philosophical Theories of the Nation-State Period
Treaty of Westphalia – reemergence of the concept of limited war.Modern Nation State Period – Western Doctrine of just war reaffirmed.Just War – capable of vindicating the order of justice.Latter Seventeenth century – growing objection towards violence. Up until French Revolution, European states not willing to use great force on their enemies.
Modern Pacifist Theories
Pacifist Writers of Enlightenment Period – Erasmus, Voltaire, Kant took a negative view towards war and the abolition of force from international politics was viewed as the noblest objective of foreign leaders.The end of the eighteenth century witnessed the idealist concept of the abolishment of war being overtaken by liberal nationalist ideology which lead to the citizen conscript army – the nation at arms, backed by all theorganizableresources of a newly industrializing society. France was first to wage total war in modern times.
After 1815 – a return to balance of power.Western Europe –belief that science, education, and international trade would all combine to make war obsolete.Nineteenth century Europe relatively calm compared to America and the American Civil War.
JonathanDymond’sUncompromising Pacifism
JonathanDymond– nineteenth centuryEnglish Quaker who argued that war, like the slave trade, would begin to disappear when people would refuse to acquiesce in it any longer and begin to question its necessity.Dymond– industrialists join forces with professional military to promote war.Dymond– Christian scriptures require individuals to refrain from violence under all circumstances.
Sir Norman Angell : War as an Anachronism
Sir Norman Angell – War is greatest threat to the economic health of modern industrial civilization.Angell – War does not bring the expected economic gains intended.Angell – No nation can improve economic position through war or imperialistic operations. Peace could be achieved through education of the publics of democratic societies.
Bellicism– militarist school of thought within the West. First emerged after the French Revolution.French Revolution to early 1960’s – most western theories of military strategies emphasized direct, decisive attacks of the enemy as opposed to indirect, patient strategies involving maneuver and negotiation.
Karl Von Clausewitz – war was an act of force pushed to its utmost bounds.Hegel, Nietzsche – took power and war as ends in themselves.Heinrich von Treitschke – war is frequently the only means available to the state to protect its independence.Alfred Thayer Mahan – viewed history as a Darwinian struggle in which fitness is measured in terms of military strength.
Realistic positivism –VilfredoPareto and GaetanoMosca.Propogatedconcepts of rule by elite and use of coercive instruments. Against pacifism.Social Darwinists – Herbert Spencer, Oliver Wendell Holmes. Advocated Social Darwinism.Pessimistic philosophers – Oswald Spengler andBendettoCroce. Spengler’s focus was the virility of barbarians, subjugation of weaker peoples, and the law of the jungle. Croce regarded war as a necessary tragedy of the human condition.Racist theory and/orFacisism– Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Benito Mussolini.
Anarchism and the Marxist Socialist
Both the Anarchist and the Marxist socialist movements helped not only strengthen the theory of pacifism but also supported the practice of politicized violence as an instrument either of abolishing the state or of promoting class revolution as a prelude to establishing a cooperative or a socialist order.Anarchists – essentially foes of both capitalists and socialists.Some branches of Anarchism espouse violence while others do not. Mikhail Bakunin and Mahatma Gandhi.
The Normative Theory of Just War in the Nuclear Age
End of Cold War saw the emergence ofnormative approaches to international relations focusing on worthwhile human values, ideals, and goals to be pursued by governments.Chris Brown – Although the concept of just war is essentially a medieval theoretical construction it still has common currency.
Just war idea central to modern international law.Founders of modern international law recognized the fact that the doctrine of sovereignty in an anarchical system left it to every state to judge the justice of its own cause when making the decision to go to war.International law – imposes on states certain limits with regard to the conduct of war.
Due to the destructive power of modern military technology especially that of nuclear weapons, the conditions of just war are no longer valid. Amount of force employed must be proportionate to the political objectives sought. The total destructive power of nuclear weapons makes this requirement invalid.Strategy of Nuclear deterrence – assumes that governmental decision makers can be expected to act rationally in crisis. Pacifists argue that it is logically absurd to analyze warfare in terms of rationality or justice.
In a global system without an international force organized in support of international justice, other theorists argue, independent governments and other political entities are likely to be disposed from time to time to resort to the use of force.Just war doctrine – considered by some as obsolete in nuclear age but the world has seen numerous instances of limited conventional and unconventional warfare.
MichaelWalzer– examines the paradox confronted by strategists and moralists.Walzer– superpower governments are deterred from risking even conventional war, not to mention limited nuclear war because of the danger that it might escalate to an uncontrollable nuclear exchange.Walzer– moral decisions difficult in war, which often requires a choice between equally valid but contradictory claims concerning justice.





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