Causes of War
Causes of War in the Twentieth Century
1. Arrogance of Power
This view holds that a driving force in wars are nations which
hold enormous power and seek to use this power at every opportunity.
To have power is to want to employ it and to be corrupted by it.
The arrogance derives from the belief that to have power is to be
able to do anything one wishes. Power invokes right and justifies
2. Bureaucratic Politics
National sesurity bureaucrats (Military and civilian) are
afflicted with the curse of the machismo or the need to assert and
prove manhood and toughness. Career advancement and acceptability
within the bureaucracy depend upon showing that you are not afraid
to use this power or force. National security bureaucrats may at
times purposefully mislead their superiors with lies or carefully
constructed policy alternatives. This includes bureaucrats or
advisors offering their leaders policy choices that the very
framing of which determines their outcome.
3. Domestic Politics
If a leader is held responsible for losing a war, then he/she
could lose political power immediately or at the next election.
The loss of political power could also jeopardize domestic
legislative programs, invite political attacks from extremist
groups and run the risk of other powerful nations challenging
the balance of power in the world. Inversely, domestic problems may
induce leaders to enter into or create an international war/dispute
in order to divert public attention away from that particular
domestic problem or issue.
Special interests groups maneuver nations into war. These special
interests could be economic, religious, racial, and military.
5. Men Making Hard Choices Pragmatically
It is important for national leaders to organize and orchestrate
the decisions of their cabinets of advisors to give the impression
to the public that after discussion of public policy issues, all
advisors agree totally and collectively to whatever decision was
ultimately made. This is to give the public a show of unanimity.
There should never be a public perception of discord or disagreement
between a leader and his advisors over public policy issues.
6. The Slippery Slope
Over time, each leader or administration piled commitment over
commitment which slid the country deeper and deeper into the
quagmire or quicksand of war.
7. Yellow Journalism
The primary intent of yellow journalism is not to report the
news accurtaely with dispassionate objectivity but to use the news
with embellishment for a particular purpose (eg- to report the news
in order to carry a nation emotionally towards war).
Militarism can promise full economic employment, national
honor and a prolifiration of paramilitary organizations to enforce
conformity, ethnocentrism, patriotism, xenophobia and ideological
9. Charasmatic Leaders
All the forms of intolerance expressed above can be the result
of the actions of a charasmatic leader of a nation or a group of
people within a nation.
10. A National Feeling of Impotence or Inadequacy
Over time, a nation might feel frustrated in not being able to
control its own destiny or to determine or adequately influence
world event to its satisfaction.
11. Perspectives on Foreign Policy
The Spere of Influence Approach to Foreign Policy
The Universalist Approach to Foreign Policy
12. The Isolated Leader thesis places responsibility of war on
the personality of the leader and the cabinet of advisors around
the leader which can isolate the leader from the real world.
13. Lack of effective communication between countries.
14. Economic Depression
15. A false belief that wars can be won quickly with little loss
16. Accident (Click on War and Peace in the Nuclear Age)
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