War in 21st Century- Attitudes, Nukes, and Costs- Ir 305

War in 21st Century- Attitudes, Nukes, and Costs- Ir 305 -...

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Perspectives on War in the 21st Century Hunter Ellis IR 305: Strategic Aspects of IR January 24, 2010
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Is the twenty-first century likely to witness inter-state war, or only intra-state warfare? Although the Cold War is little more than two decades gone, it has already become a widespread claim amongst scholars that major interstate war has come to an end. Such claims seem suspect and paradoxical considering the institution of war has been present for millennia and that within the last century alone there were over 60 million deaths in wars between states. I contend that the increasing political, economic, and human costs of war, the advent of nuclear weapons, and changing public attitudes towards interstate war have made it obsolescent and unlikely to occur with much frequency in the twenty-first century. This does not mean, however, that the world is on the threshold of universal and perpetual peace. On the contrary, I argue that civil wars are widespread and will continue to be so in the foreseeable future as a result of flaws within the United Nations and international policing efforts. It has become increasingly unlikely in the international system for a war between sovereign states to occur. Over the last few centuries, interstate warfare in Europe has gone from frequent and commonplace to uncommon and avoided. Indeed, since the end of World War II there has yet to be a major interstate war in Europe, the longest such period in its post- Medieval history (Levy 1983). This long peace has not only been confined to European states, but includes the Cold War rivals, who managed to avoid direct hostilities with each other, as well as much of the rest of the international community. Many scholars and commentators have attributed this long peace to the increasing economic, political, and human costs of interstate warfare, in addition to the reduced incentives for victory of such conflict. Traditional neo-realist theory posits that war is an inescapable feature of the international system in which sovereign states seek to maximize power and state security (Rotberg & Raab 1989; 39-40). For most of human history, war was indeed a rational and useful means of acquiring power, resources, and ensuring security. Most societies from the ninth to the eighteenth centuries were organized around "landholding as the chief basis of both economic and political power" (Kaysen 1990; 48). Agriculture in these societies was the principal economic activity, and most laborers were tied to the land they worked on, either through serfdom or simple immobility. Thus, a victory in war could secure clear gains: additional land and the associated labor force, adding directly to both the economic and political power of the victor. The returns on a successful war typically outweighed the costs, which, at least for the winner, were small (Kaysen 1990; 48). The Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries would change the terms of the "calculus
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War in 21st Century- Attitudes, Nukes, and Costs- Ir 305 -...

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