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Cornell Studies in Security Affairs

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The Origins of Major War

by Dale C. Copeland

One of the most important questions of human existence is what drives nations to war-especially massive, system-threatening war. Much military history focuses on the who, when, and where of war. In this riveting book, Dale C. Copeland brings attention to bear on why governments make decisions that lead to, sustain, and intensify conflicts.

Copeland presents detailed historical narratives of several twentieth-century cases, including World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. He highlights instigating factors that transcend individual personalities, styles of government, geography, and historical context to reveal remarkable consistency across several major wars usually considered dissimilar. The result is a series of challenges to established interpretive positions and provocative new readings of the causes of conflict.

Classical realists and neorealists claim that dominant powers initiate war. Hegemonic stability realists believe that wars are most often started by rising states. Copeland offers an approach stronger in explanatory power and predictive capacity than these three brands of realism: he examines not only the power resources but the shifting power differentials of states. He specifies more precisely the conditions under which state decline leads to conflict, drawing empirical support from the critical cases of the twentieth century as well as major wars spanning from ancient Greece to the Napoleonic Wars.

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Reassuring the Reluctant Warriors

U.S. Civil-Military Relations and Multilateral Intervention

by Stefano Recchia

Why did American leaders work hard to secure multilateral approval from the United Nations or NATO for military interventions in Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo, while making only limited efforts to gain such approval for the 2003 Iraq War? In Reassuring the Reluctant Warriors, Stefano Recchia draws on declassified documents and about one hundred interviews with civilian and military leaders to illuminate little-known aspects of U.S. decision making in the run-up to those interventions. American leaders, he argues, seek UN or NATO approval to facilitate sustained military and financial burden sharing and ensure domestic support. However, the most assertive, hawkish, and influential civilian leaders in Washington tend to downplay the costs of intervention, and when confronted with hesitant international partners they often want to bypass multilateral bodies. In these circumstances, America's senior generals and admirals—as reluctant warriors who worry about Vietnam-style quagmires—can play an important restraining role, steering U.S. policy toward multilateralism.

Senior military officers are well placed to debunk the civilian interventionists' optimistic assumptions regarding the costs of war, thereby undermining broader governmental support for intervention. Recchia demonstrates that when the military expresses strong concerns about the stabilization burden, even hawkish civilian leaders can be expected to work hard to secure multilateral support through the UN or NATO—if only to reassure the reluctant warriors about long-term burden sharing. By contrast, when the military stays silent, as it did in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War, the most hawkish civilians are empowered; consequently, the United States is more likely to bypass multilateral bodies and may end up shouldering a heavy stabilization burden largely by itself. Recchia's argument that the military has the ability to contribute not only to a more prudent but also to a more multilateralist U.S. intervention policy may be counterintuitive, but the evidence is compelling.

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The Remnants of War

by John Mueller

"War . . . is merely an idea, an institution, like dueling or slavery, that has been grafted onto human existence. It is not a trick of fate, a thunderbolt from hell, a natural calamity, or a desperate plot contrivance dreamed up by some sadistic puppeteer on high. And it seems to me that the institution is in pronounced decline, abandoned as attitudes toward it have changed, roughly following the pattern by which the ancient and formidable institution of slavery became discredited and then mostly obsolete."-from the Introduction

War is one of the great themes of human history and now, John Mueller believes, it is clearly declining. Developed nations have generally abandoned it as a way for conducting their relations with other countries, and most current warfare (though not all) is opportunistic predation waged by packs-often remarkably small ones-of criminals and bullies. Thus, argues Mueller, war has been substantially reduced to its remnants-or dregs-and thugs are the residual combatants.

Mueller is sensitive to the policy implications of this view. When developed states commit disciplined troops to peacekeeping, the result is usually a rapid cessation of murderous disorder. The Remnants of War thus reinvigorates our sense of the moral responsibility bound up in peacekeeping. In Mueller's view, capable domestic policing and military forces can also be effective in reestablishing civic order, and the building of competent governments is key to eliminating most of what remains of warfare.

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The Shadow of the Past

Reputation and Military Alliances before the First World War

by Gregory D. Miller

In The Shadow of the Past, Gregory D. Miller examines the role that reputation plays in international politics, emphasizing the importance of reliability-confidence that, based on past political actions, a country will make good on its promises-in the formation of military alliances. Challenging recent scholarship that focuses on the importance of credibility-a state's reputation for following through on its threats-Miller finds that reliable states have much greater freedom in forming alliances than those that invest resources in building military force but then use it inconsistently.

To explore the formation and maintenance of alliances based on reputation, Miller draws on insights from both political science and business theory to track the evolution of great power relations before the First World War. He starts with the British decision to abandon "splendid isolation" in 1900 and examines three crises--the First Moroccan Crisis (1905-6), the Bosnia-Herzegovina Crisis (1908-9), and the Agadir Crisis (1911)-leading up to the war. He determines that states with a reputation for being a reliable ally have an easier time finding other reliable allies, and have greater autonomy within their alliances, than do states with a reputation for unreliability. Further, a history of reliability carries long-term benefits, as states tend not to lose allies even when their reputation declines.

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Stopping the Bomb

The Sources and Effectiveness of US Nonproliferation Policy

Nicholas L. Miller

Stopping the Bomb examines the historical development and effectiveness of American efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Nicholas L. Miller offers here a novel theory that argues changes in American nonproliferation policy are the keys to understanding the nuclear landscape from the 1960s onward.

The Chinese and Indian nuclear tests in the 1960s and 1970s forced the US government, Miller contends, to pay new and considerable attention to the idea of nonproliferation and to reexamine its foreign policies. Stopping the Bomb explores the role of the United States in combating the spread of nuclear weapons, an area often ignored to date. He explains why these changes occurred and how effective US policies have been in preventing countries from seeking and acquiring nuclear weapons. Miller’s findings highlight the relatively rapid move from a permissive approach toward allies acquiring nuclear weapons to a more universal nonproliferation policy no matter whether friend or foe.

Four in-depth case studies of US nonproliferation policy—toward Taiwan, Pakistan, Iran, and France—elucidate how the United States can compel countries to reverse ongoing nuclear weapons programs. Miller’s findings in Stopping the Bomb have important implications for the continued study of nuclear proliferation, US nonproliferation policy, and beyond.

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Storm of Steel

The Development of Armor Doctrine in Germany and the Soviet Union, 1919–1939

by Mary R. Habeck

In this fascinating account of the battle tanks that saw combat in the European Theater of World War II, Mary R. Habeck traces the strategies developed between the wars for the use of armored vehicles in battle. Only in Germany and the Soviet Union were truly original armor doctrines (generally known as "blitzkreig" and "deep battle") fully implemented. Storm of Steel relates how the German and Soviet armies formulated and chose to put into practice doctrines that were innovative for the time, yet in many respects identical to one another.

As part of her extensive archival research in Russia, Germany, and Britain, Habeck had access to a large number of formerly secret and top-secret documents from several post-Soviet archives. This research informs her comparative approach as she looks at the roles of technology, shared influences, and assumptions about war in the formation of doctrine. She also explores relations between the Germans and the Soviets to determine whether collaboration influenced the convergence of their armor doctrines.

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The Tet Offensive

Intelligence Failure in War

by James J. Wirtz

In this account of one of the worst intelligence failures in American
history, James J. Wirtz explains why U.S. forces were surprised by the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive in 1968. Wirtz reconstructs the turning point of the Vietnam War in unprecedented detail. Drawing upon Vietcong and recently declassified U.S. sources, he is able to trace the strategy and unfolding of the Tet campaign as well as the U.S. response.

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Twilight of the Titans

Great Power Decline and Retrenchment

Paul K. MacDonald<BR>Joseph M. Parent

In this bold new perspective on the United States–China power transition, Paul K. MacDonald and Joseph M. Parent examine all great power transitions since 1870. They find that declining and rising powers have strong incentives to moderate their behavior at moments when the hierarchy of great powers is shifting. How do great powers respond to decline? they ask. What options do great powers have to slow or reverse their descent?

In Twilight of the Titans, MacDonald and Parent challenge claims that policymakers for great powers, unwilling to manage decline through moderation, will be pushed to extreme measures. Tough talk, intimidation, provocation, and preventive war, they write, are not the only alternatives to defeat. Surprisingly, retrenchment tends not to make declining states tempting prey for other states nor does it promote domestic dysfunction. What retrenchment does encourage is resurrection. Only states that retrench have recovered their former position.

MacDonald and Parent show how declining states tend to behave, what policy options they have to choose from, how rising states respond to decline, and what conditions reward which strategies. Using case studies that include Great Britain in 1872 and 1908, Russia in 1888 and 1903, and France in 1893 and 1924, Twilight of the Titans offers clear evidence that declining powers have a wide array of options at their disposal and offers guidance on how to use the right tools at the right time. The result is a comprehensive rethinking of power transition and hegemonic war theories and a different approach to the policy problems that declining states face. What matters most, the authors write, is the strategic choices made by the great powers.

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