“A Relatively severe, violent confrontation between the military forces representing the governments of two or more states”
“Sustained armed combat between the organized military forces of at least two nation-states.”
- Clausewitz – “We see, therefore that war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, carried on with other means.” Also characterized war as “nothing but a duel on a larger scale.”
- Above definitions intended to provide some sort of clarity to the idea of
what actually characterizes a war. Term frequently hear utilized in our everyday
lives, yet in practice it is rather difficult to define. Remember that the last
time the United States actually declared war on anyone was during WWII. Obviously
this was not the last time that the country actually waged war, yet this is
the last time that a formal declaration occurred. Actions in Korea and Iraq
were police actions, done under the auspices of the international community
(UN in both cases) and Vietnam occurred as a means of assisting the government
of the South (protecting US advisors). Yet, each (esp. Vietnam) would fit the
definitions provided above, yet the country did not characterize it as a war.
Why? Mention the war powers act re Vietnam.
- Definitions above also ignore civil conflicts. Did the state of affairs in Northern Ireland not characterize a war? Discuss the insistence of the IRA members that they were prisoners of war, not criminals. Also describe the attitudes of the British to this proclamation. More to the point, does the conflict have to be between two independent states? Can it not be between two forces within a single state, though there usually will be some aspirations of independence for at least one of the combatants. (explain)
- Amended Definition: “A condition arising within states (civil war) or between states (interstate war) when actors use violent means to destroy their opponents or coerce them into submission.”
- Generally difficulty in distinguishing between a war and a rebellion. May only be characterized as a war in its aftermath.
- Also raises the question of when a war is said to be officially over. Remember that neither the Korean War nor the Chinese civil conflict has been finally resolved.
- Point is that this is a rather thorny question that requires some level of analysis.
- Is war ever justified? Interesting philosophical question that has bedeviled hisotrians, diplomats, leaders, etc. since time immemorial. Under international law, an act of aggression can justify war, and once the aggressor has been repulsed, it may also be punished.
- What constitutes aggression?
- Invasion by armed forces
- Blockade of ports
- Attack of armed forces of a state not necessarily in that state’s territory, an aircraft carrier for example. Attack of civilian personnel or installations in foreign country (remember that diplomatic residences are considered to be sovereign territory.
- Troops that are based in a foreign country either attacking or being attacked (Panama) by that country.
- Troops based in a foreign country either attacking or being attacked by a foreign country.
- Of course, not every one of these violations will result in a war, but they are some of the common acts that may elicit a justifiable (in IL terms) response. Of course, they are certainly open to interpretation. An act of aggression (see above) allows for a response by the victim in the name of self-defense or acts of IL enforcement by the victim and other members of the international community. (Gulf War)
- Not particularly pleasant to consider, but all save the most ardent pacifist would admit that there are some cases in which war is justified. How does one deal with an invasion, either of one’s self or of one’s allies? Distinction is when is such action is deemed necessary, will almost always be a matter up for debate.
- Few Examples: WWII. (Buchanan), Korea, Vietnam, Gulf. All of these were hotly debated at various times during their duration (or afterward).
Why do Wars Start
- We are all aware of how truly awful wars are, the level of carnage that exists, the casualties, the severe damage to a states infrastructure and what can happen to the losers. It should be noted, and will be discussed in a much later context that our ability to kill each other has increased exponentially over time and especially over the past 100 years. So, the question emerges, why would anyone start such a conflict, with the clear knowledge of what can happen to not only the losing side, but the horrific consequences endured by the victors?
- Estimated that over 110 million people have died in wars in this century (including both combatants and civilians. How, therefore have we not learned our lesson.
- Clausewitz assumed that wars were purposeful activities, meaning that the states originated conflict with clear aims in mind, after calculating the pros and cons of their actions. Do you agree with this assessment?
Explanations as to Why War Starts
1. Human Nature and Karl Lorenz, behavioral impulse Argument has historically raged over whether humans are inherently war-like, we are one of the few species of animal that practices interspecies aggression (routinely kill our own kind). Is the drive for power innate? Alternative perspective is that war is a learned trait. Nature vs. Nurture and their opinions.
2. Belief that the other state is posing a direct threat to the balance of power. Not overly relevant in the post-Soviet world, but could easily become relevant again very soon. Anyway, the argument goes that one state is attempting to become dominant and other states coalesce to stop this attempt. Those that forward this opinion will state that war’s start when the largest state’s preeminence is challenged by a rising state, and in an attempt to defend its position the largest state fights.
3. An aggressive leader and a citizenry that supports these ambitions. Remember, that while there may be some resigned acceptance (WWII Germany as opposed to WWI Germany), there has to be some acceptance by the population in general for war to occur. Ex. Saddam and Gulf, Hirohito and Japan.
4. Counter to this notion is the idea of a rogue state that is aggressively pursuing its aims and must be stopped (West and Gulf). Other half of the coin.
5. Caused by the arms industry as a means of furthering their sales. After all, if one does not fear one’s neighbors than there is no real need for defense. All of these explanations are simplistic, but this one seems to surpass the others in this respect. I would argue that the arms industry cannot create hostility in a vacuum, while they may be able to augment existing tensions, they cannot create new ones. This goes along with the Marxist explanation that presumes that wars are initiated in order to keep exiting unequal relations in place.
6. Nationalism – While a nation is a culturally coherent group of people who live on a defined piece of territory, this might not always correspond to the dimensions of a state. Wars being fought as the continued effort to make the two correspond. Make sure that they understand this concept, as it has been very important in understanding the origins of wars.
- Economic gain, security (need to resist or remove a perceived threat), Ideological differences (Including those of religion).
War As A Result of Miscalculation
– Before addressing this idea directly, must first explain the twin notions of deterrence and compellence.
– Deterrence, the act of preventing someone or some country from following a preferred course of action through threat of severe retaliation (deterrence through punishment) or by attaching such a high cost to the prospective action that it exceeds any potential benefit (deterrence through denial). Explain each using the examples of the US & Western Europe for punishment and People’s War for denial.
– Compellance, the act of compelling someone or some country into following a course of action that they would prefer not to. Ex. Withdraw your forces, cede your territory, give us trade concessions, etc. or you will get hurt.
- Idea merits special consideration. This notion essentially assumes that all wars are accidental and the result of miscalculations by both sides. The first with the firm belief that the weapons they possess are adequate to deter the enemy from attacking (will examine the concept of deterrence more fully in a moment) and the attacker with the belief that the costs of such action will not exceed the gains – rarely true and increasingly untrue in this century. Attacker may not believe that the defender will fight, so will attempt to compel them into some action they would prefer not to undertake.
- Attached to this notion is misperceptions about the character of national leaders or of the nation itself (examples of Khrushchev’s view of Kennedy, Japanese view of US and US view of Japanese).
- Along with this is the idea that at the outset of the war, there must be disagreement between the two belligerents as to its likely outcome, otherwise why would it occur? If both agreed that one side was to win, would the other not make any concessions to avoid losing a war.
- Their opinions?
Changing Nature of War
Our increased ability to kill each other (machine guns, mines, tanks, artillery, air bombardment, nuclear, etc.) has changed modern warfare in several ways, among them:
1. While the duration of wars increased between 1816 and WWII, it has declined since that time, ability to kill more easily has shortened the duration of wars, if not the casualty count.
2. Average number of countries involved in major wars has fallen sharply since WWII. Conflicts have become more localized. States belonging to major alliance systems (NATO, WTO, SEATO) tended not to fight defensive wars.
3. Wars have become increasingly concentrated among the less developed countries of the earth. Since 1945, more than 90% of the conflicts that have taken place have occurred in the Southern Hemisphere (generally the home of the LDCs)
4. Large scale conflicts involving more than one of the Great Powers (on opposite sides) have largely been eliminated since WWII, breaking the pattern established in the first half of this century.
5. Goals of the Great Powers seem to have been shifted to the point where most have become status quo powers, increasingly conscious about the attendant costs of waging war. Less interested in acquiring formal subject peoples, which would be a nightmare to administer. Mention how the United States (Brits and French too) seems to have become increasingly casualty conscious.
Why is this so?
1. Presence of Nuclear Weapons.
- Presence of nuclear weapons has made the waging of war increasingly costly. For the major powers, or the developed countries that are tied into alliance systems, this renders them less vulnerable to attack (exception the Falklands, which broke a previously accepted rule that one does not attack a nuclear power). After all, an attack on a nuclear nation could lead to the elimination of one’s state. Something that increases the level of uncertainty.
- Division of the world into zones of peace (industrialized North) and zones of conflict (poorer South) Notion of a Pax Atomica.
- Enhanced deterrent capabilities. Discuss the case of Israel, the 1973 War and the Gulf War. Also describe US efforts to dissuade the Chinese during the 1950s.
- Will deal with nuclear weapons later in a special lecture.
2. Increased Democratization
- Discuss Huntington and the idea of the Third Wave. Increased level of democracies.
- Notion that democracies do not fight each other.
- Difficult to gain public support for wars in which great numbers will be killed.
- People have enhanced ability to punish governments that opt to “cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war”.
- Fundamental component of US foreign policy under both Bush and Clinton.
Mandelbaum and the Three Revolutions in Warfare
1. Industrialization and the Industrial Revolution.
- Greatly enhanced capabilities
2. Napoleon and Conscript Armies
- Enabled Mass Armies
- Trend toward total wars
- Our ability to wreak carnage has greatly increased. Mention how this is the extension of the gun, strategic bombing, etc.
- Push a button and vaporize a city
- Impact on civilians
What will be the next revolution? Will deal with civil wars and terrorists next.