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future conﬂict. While employing violence in the pursuit of dominance may continue to fuel war, violence may shift from physical killing to a diﬀerent order of threat and inequality, and dominance might be reckoned along such nonmilitary factors as economics, environmental control, social viability, or a set of factors as yet unrecognized. War has not always been a part of the human condition, and perhaps future changes in sociopolitical organization and ethical systems will render war altogether obsolete. Eﬀective research into the causes, solutions and future of war will hone combinations of theoretical inquiry with ethnography—helpingtoerasearbitrarydistinctionsbetween theory and data (Nordstrom 1997). The greatest advances will be in rethinking the very meanings of violence and aggression, going beyond simple biological and rudimentary social explanations to explore the complex interactions of violence and power, economics, survival, and identity both within and across local, regional, and transnational populations. See also: Conﬂict and War, Archaeology of; First World War, The; Military and Politics; Military Geography; Military History; National Security Studies and War Potential of Nations; Second World War, The; Tribe; War: Causes and Patterns; War, Sociology of; Warfare in History
van Creveld M 1991 The Transformation of War. The Free Press, New York Warren K B (ed.) 1993 The Violence Within: Cultural and Political Opposition in Di ided Nations. Westview Press, Boulder, CO
C. R. Nordstrom
War: Causes and Patterns
War involves large-scale organized violence between states or other political units. Although the conduct of war has changed in important ways over the millennia, war itself has been a recurrent phenomenon in international politics. It is one of the primary sources of change in international systems and an important factor in the evolution of the social and political organization of societies. Theorizing about the causes of war goes back to Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, but scholars are far from agreement on what causes war.
1. Patterns of Warfare
The current international system represents the most recent stage in the evolution and globalization of the system that originated in Europe about ﬁve centuries ago. Warfare in this system has historically been dominated by the ‘great powers,’ though the frequency of wars between these leading states has steadily declined, while their severity has increased. The period since 1945 has been characterized by both the longest period of great power peace in the last half millennium and a dramatic shift in the concentration of war from Europe to other regional subsystems and from international wars to internal wars, many of which have been intractable ethnonational or religious ‘identity wars.’ These recent trends have led some to argue that we have reached a turning point in the history of warfare. Some argue that major war between advanced industrial states has become obsolete, while others argue that traditional wars over power or ideology will give way to a ‘clash of civilizations’ deﬁned in terms of religious or cultural identity (Huntington 1996). These arguments reﬂect diﬀerent theoretical perspectives on the causes of war.
Castells M 1998 End of Millennium. Blackwell, London Enloe C H 2000 Maneu ers: the International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Li es. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA Ferguson R B, Whitehead N L (eds.) 1992 War in the Tribal Zone: Expanding States and Indigenous Warfare. School of American Research Press, Santa Fe, NM Foster M L, Rubinstein R A (eds.) 1986 Peace and War: CrossCultural Perspecti es. Transaction Books, Oxford, UK Gregor T (ed.) 1996 A Natural History of Peace. Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville, TN Holsti K J 1996 The State, War, and the State of War. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK Kaldor M 1999 New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA Keane J 1996 Reﬂections on Violence. Verso, London Nordstrom C 1997 A Diﬀerent Kind of War Story. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia Nordstrom C, Robben A C G M (eds.) 1995 Fieldwork Under Fire: Contemporary Studies of Violence and Sur i al. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA Rupesinghe K, Rubio Correa M 1994 The Culture of Violence. United Nations University Press, Tokyo Simons A 1999 War: back to the future. Annual Re iews in Anthropology 28: 73–108 Sluka J 1992 The anthropology of conﬂict. In: Nordstrom C, Martin J (eds.) The Paths to Domination, Resistance and Terror. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, pp. 18–36
2. Theoretical Approaches
Carl von Clausewitz (1976) wrote in his inﬂuential book On War that war is a ‘continuation of politics by other means,’ suggesting that war is an instrument of policy for advancing state interests. This implies that war ultimately involves a political decision by state
War: Causes and Patterns political leaders, so to understand war one must understand why political leaders choose war rather than other strategies to achieve their ends. Technically, we must understand the joint decisions by rival states, because one side can usually avoid war if it is willing to make enough concessions. 2.1 The ‘Le els of Analysis’ Framework Scholars previously emphasized monocausal explanations that identiﬁed a single primary cause of war, but political scientists have moved away from such explanations. Although they prefer parsimonious explanations that explain as much as possible with as little theoretical apparatus as possible, they generally recognize that there are many possible causes of war and that there is no single factor that is either necessary or suﬃcient for war. One analytic framework that they have found useful for categorizing the many possible causes of war is based on patterns of causation located at diﬀerent ‘levels of analysis’: international system, nation-state, and individual. The ﬁrst focuses on threats and opportunities to states that originate in their external environment and that aﬀect the ‘national interests’ of the state as a whole. The second emphasizes the internal sources of foreign policy decision making that derive from either governmental structures or processes or from societal inﬂuences outside of the government. The third emphasizes the distinctive role of key individual decision makers in the processes leading to war. 2.2 Systemic-le el Theories of War Systemic-level causes of war include the anarchic structure of the international system (deﬁned as the absence of a legitimate authority to regulate disputes and enforce agreements), the distribution of military and economic power among the leading states in the system, patterns of military alliances and international trade, and other variables deriving from the external environment of states. The leading systemic-level approach is ‘realist theory,’ which begins with the assumption of the primary role of sovereign states who act rationally to advance their security, power, and wealth in an anarchic international system. Given uncertainties regarding the current and future intentions of the adversary, political leaders focus on shortterm security needs, adopt worst-case thinking, engage in a struggle for power, and utilize coercive threats to advance their interests, inﬂuence the adversary, and maintain their reputations. At a very general level, realist theory posits two distinct paths to war. In one, the direct conﬂict of interests between states leads at least one side to prefer war to any feasible compromise. In the second, states prefer peace to war but are driven by the structure of the situation and by uncertainty regarding the intentions of others to take actions to protect themselves through armaments, alliances, and deterrent threats. These actions are often perceived as threatening by others (the ‘security dilemma’) and often lead to counteractions and conﬂict spirals which sometimes escalate to war. The leading realist theory is balance of power theory. Although there are several versions of balance of power theory, most posit that the primary goal of states is to avoid hegemony, to prevent any single state from achieving a position from which it can dominate over others. This leads to the instrumental goal of maintaining a balance of power through the internal mobilization of military power, external alliances against potential aggressors, or the use of force if necessary. The theory predicts that this balancing mechanism almost always works successfully to avoid hegemony, either because potential hegemons are deterred by their anticipation of a military coalition against them or because they are defeated in war after deterrence fails. Another theory that gives primary emphasis to the systemic-level sources of war, but that is associated with a liberal perspective that downplays the conﬂictual consequences of anarchy, emphasizes the potential for cooperation among states, and includes some domestic factors as well, is the liberal economic theory of war. The core of the theory, which originates with Immanuel Kant’s Eternal Peace (1795\1977), is that trade promotes peace. Trade leads to economic beneﬁts, but the economic interdependence generated by trade leaves states vulnerable to any disruption through war, and the fear of economic disruption and the loss of the gains from trade deter political leaders from taking actions that are likely to lead to war. Realists challenge this view and argue that because trade and interdependence are usually asymmetrical they often contribute to conﬂict rather than deter it, either because states may be tempted to exploit their trading partner’s vulnerabilities or because domestic groups vulnerable to external economic developments demand protectionist measures, which can lead to retaliatory actions, conﬂict spirals, and war. 2.3 National-le el Theories of War Systemic-level theories, with their emphasis on the external forces that shape state decisions for war, posit that states in similar situations behave in similar ways. The implication is that factors internal to states have little impact on foreign policy decisions. There is substantial evidence, however, that decisions for war are often inﬂuenced by internal political and economic structures, political cultures and ideologies, and domestic political processes, and over the last decade international relations theorists have been giving more attention to domestic factors. Regime type is particularly important, based on evidence that democratic regimes behave diﬀerently in 16355
War: Causes and Patterns important respects than do authoritarian regimes. Although democracies get involved in wars as frequently as do authoritarian states, frequently ﬁght imperial wars, and once involved in war often adopt a crusading spirit and ﬁght particularly destructive wars, it is striking that democracies rarely if ever go to war with each other. This ‘interdemocratic peace’ is based on standard deﬁnitions of democracy (fair, competitive elections and constitutional transfers of executive power) and war (which is often distinguished from lesser conﬂicts by the threshold of a minimum of 1,000 battle-related deaths). There are several interrelated explanations for interdemocratic peace. To be valid these explanations must account not only for the near absence of war between democracies but also for the fact that democracies get involved in wars just about as much as other states do. One model emphasizes the institutional constraints on democratic leaders—checks and balances, the dispersion of power, and the need for public debate—that enable governmental or societal groups to block attempts by political leaders to take the country into war. Related to this ‘institutional model’ is the ‘political culture model,’ which suggests that the norms of peaceful conﬂict resolution that have evolved within democratic societies are extended to relations between democratic states, and that these norms facilitate negotiated settlements. Authoritarian leaders face fewer institutional or cultural constraints, and they often attempt to exploit the conciliatory tendencies of democracies. This undermines democratic political leaders’ expectations that their conciliatory negotiating strategies will be reciprocated, reduces the internal constraints on their use of force, and provides incentives for democratic regimes to resort to force against authoritarian regimes both to protect themselves and sometimes to facilitate democratic transitions. The institutional model of interdemocratic peace assumes that political leaders are more inclined to war than are their peoples, but this assumption does not always hold. Jingoistic public opinion, often exacerbated by the media, can force political leaders into wars that they would prefer to avoid or preclude them from making the concessions that might prevent war. There is a strong tendency for the use of force against external adversaries to generate a temporary boost in domestic support for political leaders in the form of a ‘rally round the ﬂag’ eﬀect. Political leaders anticipate this, and are sometimes tempted to undertake risky foreign ventures in an attempt to distract attention from domestic problems or to blame other states or groups for those problems. Many contemporary ethnic wars result in part from political leaders manipulating images of ethnic rivals and mobilizing their domestic publics against those rivals in order to serve their own narrow political interests. External scapegoating can backﬁre, however, if it results in a military defeat. 16356 2.4 Indi idual-le el Theories of War Whereas systemic and national-level theories emphasize the role of international and domestic forces that lead to war and suggest that individual political leaders have little impact, other theories give signiﬁcant causal weight to individuals, their beliefs about the world and speciﬁc adversaries, the psychological processes through which they acquire information and make decisions, and their personalities and emotional states. Some theories emphasize cognitive limitations and aﬀective variables that impact most people in similar ways and result in standard patterns of deviations from ideal-type models of rational decision making. Other theories emphasize the variations among political leaders in the way they deﬁne state interests, perceive threats to those interests, assess the intentions of adversaries, evaluate the merits of alternative strategies to achieve those interests, use the lessons of history to shape current policies, and respond to the pressures and uncertainties of foreign policy crises. Misperceptions of the intentions and capabilities of adversaries and third states can be a particularly important cause of war.
Although the levels-of-analysis framework initially led scholars to focus on the question of which level of analysis was most important in the causes of war, and thus to emphasize single-level explanations, attention has recently shifted to the question of how variables at diﬀerent levels interact in the processes leading to war. See also: Alliances: Political; Balance of Power: Political; Cold War, The; Conﬂict and War, Archaeology of; Conﬂict Sociology; Deterrence; Foreign Policy Analysis; Imperialism: Political Aspects; Internal Warfare: Civil War, Insurgency, and Regional Conﬂict; Military and Politics; Military Geography; Military History; Military Sociology; National Security Studies and War Potential of Nations; Peace; Peace Movements; Realism\Neorealism; War: Anthropological Aspects; War Crimes Tribunals; War, Sociology of; Warfare in History
Clausewitz C von 1976 On War Howard M and Paret P. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ Huntington S P 1996 The Clash of Ci ilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Simon and Schuster, New York Jervis R 1976 Perception and Misperception in International Politics. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ Kant I 1977 Eternal peace. In: Friedrich C (ed.) The Philosophy of Kant. Modern Library, New York, pp. 430–76
War Crimes Tribunals
Levy J S 1983 War in the Modern Great Power System, 1495– 1975. University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, KY Ray J L 1995 Democracy and International Conﬂict. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC Thucydides 1954 History of The Peloponnesian War. In: The Landmark Thucydides, ed. and trans. Strassler R B. Free Press, New York Van Evera S 1999 Causes of War. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY Vasquez J A 1993 The War Puzzle. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK Waltz K N 1959 Man, the State, and War. Columbia University Press, New York
J. S. Levy Copyright # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
War Crimes Tribunals
From Nuremberg to The Hague and Kigali, the latter half of the twentieth century witnessed the beginnings of an international framework for the prosecution and punishment of war crimes. Yet progress in this area has been sporadic and discontinuous, often seeming to reveal as much or more about what does not work as about what does. Contemporary eﬀorts to establish a permanent international criminal court usually are traced to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly a half-century ago. These eﬀorts continued through a summer of 1998 meeting of more than 100 nations in Rome that led to a tentative treaty to establish a permanent international criminal court (ICC). Continuing eﬀorts include war crime tribunal activity in relation to the wars in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and ongoing eﬀorts to ratify and implement the treaty for a permanent court through the United Nations. Although there is much anecdotal and growing empirical evidence of the need for a permanent institution to deal with war crimes, there is a lack of social science analysis and a resulting knowledge base that could help to broaden the foundation of support for an international criminal court by the public. The agenda of such a court increasingly is recognized as not only involving righting wrongs of the past but also preventing war crimes in the future.
Court in Leipzig. The resulting sentences ranged from two months to four years of imprisonment and were given to only six of 12 war criminals tried from a list of more than 900 suspects supplied by the Allied forces. The proceedings at Nuremberg following World War II were a notable improvement. The results of Nuremberg are made more notable by the fact that public opinion tended to simply favor summary execution of the captured leaders of the Axis powers. Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, argued instead for a trial before an international tribunal. Roosevelt’s successor as president, Harry Truman, endorsed the trial model and persuaded the Allied powers to work through the United Nations in establishing the International Military Tribunal (IMT) to prosecute and punish ‘crimes against peace,’ ‘war crimes,’ and ‘crimes against humanity.’ The resulting Nuremberg Indictment was regarded as an extension of the common law of the nations involved, although this common law was far from universally recognized at the time of Nuremberg. A defense posed in response to the resulting prosecutions was that the tribunal’s charges were ex post facto, retroactive creations. Marrus (1997, pp. 565–6) notes that the Harvard criminologist and law professor, Sheldon Glueck, responded with the common law retort that
Surely … Hitler, Himmler, Goering, Ribbentrop, Frank, Doenitz, and the rest ... knew full well that murder is murder, whether wholesale or retail, whether committed in pursuance of a gigantic conspiracy to disregard all treaties and wage lawless wars or of a smaller conspiracy evolved by a group of domestic murderers.
1. The Lessons of War
A lesson of World War I was that, left to their own devices, vanquished as well as victorious nations often will do little to punish war criminals appropriately (Marrus 1997). Following World War I, the vulnerable politicians of the ﬂedgling Weimar Republic insisted that the prosecution and punishment of German war criminals should be handled by the German Supreme
Twelve war criminals included under the Nuremberg Indictment received death sentences. Three acquittals also demonstrated that such a tribunal could provide reprieve as well as punishment. The development of a jurisprudence of ‘crimes against humanity’ was especially noteworthy as an innovation that addressed the persecution of speciﬁc groups, in this case including the German Jews as well as other groups. And, of course, Nuremberg helped establish in the public mind the responsibility of individuals to refuse illegal orders. The tribunal’s work also brought into limited question some Allied war strategies and methods, including the ﬁrebombing of German cities. But the Nuremberg Tribunal also received justiﬁable criticism. The presence on the tribunal of Russian judges and the impunity of Stalin and other Russian leaders belied their wartime atrocities. Some charges of ‘crimes against peace’ were clumsily conceived and pursued. In spite of Eleanor Roosevelt’s successful work for the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, this eﬀort expressly rejected a standing tribunal to deal with future war crimes. Similarly, the impetus of the 16357
International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences
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