790-324 - Amy J Higer [email protected] Home...

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Amy J. Higer [email protected] Home phone: (973)544-6182 THE CAUSES OF WAR Rutgers University—New Brunswick 790.324 PURPOSE AND DESCRIPTION World history has often been characterized as a history of warfare. Nation-states have fought each other for over two thousand years, and few scholars believe that the end of international warfare is imminent. The ongoing U.S.-led war with Iraq unfortunately seems to confirm this belief. Predictions that the end of the Cold War and the deepening of economic globalization would give rise to a more peaceful world have thus far proved overly optimistic. The renewal of ethnic and national rivalries, the rise of non-state actors with violent agendas, and the proliferation of new types of weapons of mass destruction have all complicated the international context in which war occurs, perhaps rendering international security as elusive a goal in the present era as it proved to be in past ones. Our aim in this course is to gain a better understanding of why international war occurs— that is why nation-states go to war to resolve their problems. The central questions that we will try to answer are the following: What causes states to enter into major wars? Can one reliably predict the approach of wars? Can states or nations take measures to prevent the outbreak of war? Have the causes of war changed over time? Is it possible to generalize about the causes of war, or are the causes of each war unique, as many historians insist? How do analyses about the causes of war outside the field of political science, including feminist ones, affect our ways of thinking about these questions? Finally, what do our theoretical, historical, and gendered analyses of past wars tell us about the future of war? To help us answer these questions, I have organized the course into four major sections. The first is a theoretical introduction , where we begin broadly by examining the question of what war is from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We then examine the Clausewitzian conception of war as an instrument of state policy, review the “levels-of-analysis” framework which will serve as a organizing concept for our survey of the causes of war. Here, we consider two common arguments: that war derives from aggressive human nature and that war is a masculine concept. In the second section we undertake a detailed examination of the outbreak of World War One and the July Crisis of 1914 that precipitated the war. This will serve two purposes. First, WWI is perhaps the most frequently cited historical case study of the causes of war. The literature it has generated has profoundly shaped the scholarly debate on the causes of war, as well as on the nature of international politics more generally. For these reasons alone it is important to understand the history and politics of WWI and some of the major schools of thought it has generated. Second, our examination of this case will also serve as a common point of reference that we can use to illustrate the theoretical arguments developed throughout the course.
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This note was uploaded on 07/25/2009 for the course POLS 101 taught by Professor All during the Spring '09 term at Rutgers.

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790-324 - Amy J Higer [email protected] Home...

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