This preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.
This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.View Full Document
Unformatted text preview: Where Are the Great Powers? At Home with the Kids Edward K Luttwak During the Cold War as before it, local and regional conflicts were often insti- gated or at least encouraged and materi- ally supported by rival great powers. Now, by contrast, the absence of func- tioning great powers is the cause of the world s inability to cope with all manner of violent disorders. The result is that not only groups of secessionists and aggres- sive small powers, such as Serbia, but even mere armed bands can now impose their will or simply rampage, unchecked by any greater force from without. Today there is neither the danger of great power wars nor the relative tranquillity once imposed by each great power within its own sphere of influence. By the traditional definition, great powers were states strong enough to suc- cessfully wage war without calling on allies. But that distinction is now out- , dated, because the issue today is not whether war can be made with or with- out allies, but whether war can be made at all. Historically, there have been tacit preconditions to great power status: a readiness to use force whenever it was advantageous to do so and an acceptance of the resulting combat casualties with equanimity, as long as the number was not disproportionate. In the past, those preconditions were too blatantly obvious and too easily satisfied to deserve a mention by either practitioners or theoreticians. Great powers normally relied on intimidation rather than combat, but only because a willingness to use force was assumed. Moreover, they would use force unde- terred by the prospect of the ensuing casualties, within limits oi course. NOTSO-GREAT BEHAVIOR The Somalia debacle, precipitated by the loss of 18 U.S. soldiers, and the Haiti fiasco, caused by the fear that a handful of U.S. troops might be killed while defeating that country's military dictator- ship, sufficiently exposed the current unreality of the great power concept. In EDWARD N. LUTTWAK is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He is the author of The Endan- gered American Dream, Edward N. Luttwak pnde or shame, Americans might dispute pointment of local small power ambi- iuiy wider conclusion from those events. tions, and to the great advantage of local They would like to reserve for themselves populations and peace. the special sensitivity that forces policy to As for why nothing of the kind hap- change completely because 18 profes- pened in the former Yugosla\aa in the face sional soldiers arc killed (soldiers, one of atrocities not seen since the Second might add, who come from a country in World War, the reason is not in dispute: which gun-related deaths were last no European government was any more clocked at one every 14 minutes). But in willing than the U.S. government to risk fact the virtue or malady, as the case may its soldiers in combat. Of Japan, literally be, is far from exclusively American. nothing need be said on this score.nothing need be said on this score....
View Full Document
- Fall '08
- International Relations