Poli 244 conference

Poli 244 conference - The Long Peace: Elements of Stability...

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The Long Peace: Elements of Stability in the Postwar International System (Contn’d) The behavioural elements of stability Nuclear weapons Stability in international systems is only partly a function of structure, It depends as well upon the conscious behaviour of the nations that make them up. Stability in the postwar era still might not have resulted if there had been the same willingness to risk war that has existed at other times in the past among either of the dominant powers in the system o Russia and U.S. War is rarely something that develops from the workings of impersonal social or economic forces, or from the direct effects of arms races, or even by accident. It requires deliberate decisions on the part of national leaders; It requires calculations that the gains to be derived from war will outweigh the possible costs. Geoffrey Blainey o ‘Reccuring ptimism’ "is a vital prelude to war. Anything which increases that optimism is a cause of war. Wars are not something that just happens they develop o Often trough bad calculations from one side Post 1945 Statesmen of the post-1945 superpowers have, compared to their predecessors, been exceedingly cautious in risking war with one another Many occasions there have been in relations between Washington and Moscow that in almost any other age, and among almost any other antagonists, would sooner or later have produced war. This unwillingness to resort to arms in their dealings with one another cannot be explained by: o The invariably pacific temperament of the nations involved: The United States participated in eight international wars involving a thousand or more battlefield deaths between 1815 and 1980; Russia participated in nineteen o Any unusual qualities of leadership on either side: The vision and competency of postwar Soviet and American statesmen does not appear to have differed greatly from that of their predecessors. o Nor does weariness growing out of participation in two world wars: During the postwar era both nations have employed force against third parties-in the case of the United States in Korea and Vietnam; in the case of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan-for protracted periods of time, and at great cost.
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What has really made the difference in inducing this unaccustomed caution has been the workings of the nuclear deterrent Effect of this mechanism on a statesman from either superpower who might be contemplating war. o In the past, the horrors and the costs of wars could be forgotten with the passage of time. It is difficult, given this awareness, to produce the optimism that historical experience tells us prepares the way for war; pessimism, it appears, is a permanent accompaniment to our thinking about war, and that, as Blainey reminds us, is a cause of peace. o
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This note was uploaded on 08/26/2010 for the course POLI 244 taught by Professor Saideman during the Fall '07 term at McGill.

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Poli 244 conference - The Long Peace: Elements of Stability...

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