Hidemi Suganami

in On the Causes of War

Published in print February 1996 | ISBN: 9780198273387
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191684043 | DOI:

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This book began by examining two major contributions to the study of how to reason about the causes of war: Man, the State and War by Kenneth Waltz and Why War? by Keith Nelson and Spencer Olin. The two works share one serious shortcoming: neither of them pays sufficient attention to the important fact that, under the rubric of the causes of war, a number of distinct questions arise. In particular, it was argued, the following three types must be clearly distinguished as a preliminary move in any discussion of the causes of war: (a) ‘What are the conditions which must be present for wars to occur?’; (b) ‘Under what sorts of circumstances have wars occurred more frequently?’; and (c) ‘How did this particular war come about?’ Waltz's theory of war holds that ‘international anarchy’ is the permissive and underlying cause of war, that an aggressive foreign policy results in war.

Keywords: Kenneth Waltz; Keith Nelson; Spencer Olin; war; causes of war; international anarchy; conditions; foreign policy

Chapter.  4695 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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