1.Discuss the major theories of INTRA/INTERSTATE war in terms of causes and solutions.

How does the ‘levels of analysis’ approach relate to general theories of war? Can these approaches be combined?

How do concepts such as state failure and ethnic war add to our understanding of this problem? What role might humanitarian military intervention play as an international response to such problems?

‘limited war’

INTERSTATE Summary The study of interstate war still occurs to a large extent under the intellectual shadow of the Cold War; thus, perfectly illustrates how easily an international security threat can be politicized and manipulated as an electoral issue to score points, mainly at the domestic level.

If a war of any type is essentially ‘policy by other means’ (Clausewitz, 1968) then an enduring solution to the problem of interstate war would be as difficult to develop as a general solution to the problem of policy or politics. Even if such a solution were theoretically possible, as in the form of a more representative global government with a strong police or military force, it likely would be unacceptable to the major powers in the system.

Instead, most pragmatic approaches to the problem of war are based on two very simple but important points: first, war is most fundamentally a contest of arms, and second, the nature of that contest depends to a large degree on the resources of the contestants, which includes their supporters and opponents outside the war.

As there is little chance of a major power war in the modern world owing to the possession of nuclear weapons by several major powers (among other factors), the only alternative derived from power-based approaches is to form counterbalancing coalitions on a case-by-case basis to prevent or stop an interstate war, or to act unilaterally in situations where the other major powers are unable or unwilling to get involved.

While these efforts may contribute to international security in an indirect fashion, the fact remains that such efforts are largely a response by the major powers to protect their own interests rather than the interests of the international community, no matter how strenuously they may argue otherwise.

While most of the major powers continue to praise the virtues of international law and the peaceful resolution of disputes, they are also perfectly willing to resort to violence in case an interstate dispute threatens the international order, which now may include making a preventative war against a possible threat in addition to making a pre-emptive war against an actual one.

This fact in turn highlights another unpleasant fact regarding organized political violence in the contemporary world: the presence of a fairly clear divide between a rich and secure zone of peace among the stronger powers, particularly in the North, and a zone of poverty, violence and insecurity among the weaker powers in the South.

As noted above, most of the stronger and richer states are generally status quo powers and prefer to maintain the global capitalist order they created after WWII. However, over four-fifths of the world’s population is located in the poorer parts of the world, including China and India, and these people may resort to violence in order to improve their living standards and political prospects, which often involves upsetting the status quo and even challenging the legitimacy of the modern state system and global economic order. If the concerns of these individuals are not met, and if their national governments cannot contain or otherwise address their demands, the potential that certain states will descend into chaos and violence becomes that much greater.

This dynamic is in fact one of the most prevalent problems in contemporary international security, as it involves the question of intrastate or civil violence and the possibility of deliberate international Intervention — armed and otherwise — into the domestic affairs of sovereign states.

The major causes of war: Three levels of analysis

Key points: Most wars are deliberate (i.e., not accidental ‘powder kegs’). Most wars represent some form of dispute resolution (an ‘armed contest’). Most wars do not result in ‘state death’ (i.e., not total destruction of the loser). Explaining general trends in war is not the same as explaining a specific war

A. Systemic/structural level factors

1. Balance of power: parity (internal and external balancing, including deterrence and defensive realism) vs. preponderance (offensive realism, hegemonic stability theory, long cycle theory, and power transition theory).

2. Balance of threat: links the system (security dilemma under anarchy) to domestic/individual factors (threat perception and the offense-defence balance).

 B. National/domestic level factors

1. State-focused factors: regime type, strength of governing coalition, partisanship, bureaucratic politics, organizational outputs, electoral cycles, weak/failed/’rogue’ states.

2. Society-focused factors: interest groups, societal fragmentation, military-industrial complex, public opinion (the ‘rally ’round the flag’ effect).

3. General factors: war-prone ideologies or doctrines: nationalism/militarism, revanchism, irredentism, secessionism.

 C. Individual level factors

1. Psychological factors: Multiple factors are possible; see full list on lecture outline

2. Other individual-level factors: gender of decision-makers, evolutionary biology.

Causes of interstate war

A. Functions of war: Domestic (diversionary theory) & international (expected utility theory)

B. War causality: Passive/situational vs. active/dispositional causes. Power vs. threats.

C. Likelihood: Hypotheses on war – the Schelling/Van Evera approach

D. Obsolescence of major war? The Waltz/Sagan debate and the Mueller hypothesis

Solutions’ to interstate war

A. Liberalism vs. realism (long vs. short-term)

B. Deterrence vs. defence/war-fighting

C. Internal, external, and ‘omni’ balancing

D. External balancing: collective security and alliances (role of commitments and threats).

E. General theories of alliance-formation: balance-of-power/threat, collective goods theory, security dilemma, domestic pluralism

INTRASTATE Summary After decades of focusing on the Cold War superpower rivalry, the international community seems to be waking up to the security threats posed by weak states and intrastate conflicts. Although the Cold War had the potential to destroy the lives of millions (if not billions) of people if it ever turned into a ‘hot war’, intrastate wars have in fact produced such a terrible outcome, with over 20 million dead and countless millions wounded since the end of WWII.

As tragic as that is, it is by no means clear that interventions by various types of outside actors would have ceased or reduced the violence in specific cases. It is clear, however, that intrastate wars and weak/failed states are directly and indirectly related to many of the security problems covered in this volume, as well as many other problems involving global governance. And although there is now widespread recognition of this fact among most security scholars and policymakers, the international community as a whole still finds it difficult to determine whether to act in specific cases.

The choice to act, as well as the success of that action, depends on a complex mix of attributes involving the nature of the intrastate conflict, the nature of the actor or coalition that hopes to stop it and whether the intervention is biased towards the government or rebel forces In another sense the problem is essentially one of free-riding: major powers may collectively recognize the dangers of a Somalia or Bosnia or Rwanda, yet will refrain from taking decisive action in the hopes that some other actor will take the risks of attempting to stem the violence. For example, the ongoing civil conflict in Darfur (western Sudan) has resulted in over 300,000 deaths since 2003, yet the international community has failed to mount a successful operation to stop the violence, some of which amounts to genocide according to the US — but not the UN or the AU.

Civil war in Syria has also resulted in an estimated 400,000 dead since 2011, yet no sustained peacekeeping effort has been launched. And when foreign stakeholders do decide to act, the reasons are frequently based on factors or interests that may have little to do with the actual international security threat posed by a weak or failing state. Western powers typically invoke the goals of democratization and human rights in justifying interventions, yet they will also support despots and authoritarian regimes to serve their interests (Gardner, 2009).