Elements of Stability in the Postwar International System

Elements of Stability in the Postwar International System -...

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The Long Peace: Elements of Stability in the Postwar International System By: John Lewis Gaddis Introduction - Starts article with a “fable” describing how WWI was initially thought of as the war to end all wars, but then WWII happened and there continues to be violence in the world today - “For it is the case that the post-WWII system of international relations, which nobody designed or even thought could last for very long, which was based not upon the dictates of morality and justice but rather upon an arbitrary and strikingly artificial division of the world into spheres of influence” - The history of the past 40 years has seen the greatest accumulation of armaments, violence and “ancient scourges” (famine, disease poverty) in history – yet despite all of these factors, there has not been another great war – why is this? What factors have influenced this “peace”? Systems Theory and International Stability - It is always easier to account for things that have happened compared to those that have not – in this case, WWIII - This would be easier to know the factors that cause peace if we knew what exactly causes war – but no one has been able to pin down the exact issues that cause a great war to happen o The difficulty here is that our actual experience is limited to the operations of a single system-the balance of power system-operating either within the "multipolar" configuration that characterized international politics until World War 11, or the "bipolar" configuration that has characterized them since - “Systems Theory”: no one really knows where to start to look at international relations anymore, it is so complex with so many factors o They think an international system exists when: Interconnections exist between units within the system, so that changes in some parts of it produce changes in other parts as well; The collective behavior of the system as a whole differs from the expectations and priorities of the individual units that make it up o A valuable feature of systems theory is that it provides criteria for differentiating between stable and unstable political configurations Karl Deutsch and J. David Singer define stability as the
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probability that the system retains all of its essential characteristics: that no single nation becomes dominant; hat most members continue to survive; and the large-scale war does not occur – this system has the capacity for self-regulation as opposed to self- aggravating system The Structural Elements of Stability - Bipolarity o Behaviour alone will not ensure stability if the structural prerequisites for it are absent, but structure can under certain circumstances impose stability even when its behavioural prerequisites are unpromising o Gives example of the Versailles Treaty, which came about as close as any in modern history to incorporating within itself the principles of justice, but in doing so it “neglected the realities of power” and failed to accommodate 2 strong
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