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Journal of Cold War Studies 2.1 (2000) 138-139

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Book Review

Ways of War and Peace

Michael W. Doyle, Ways of War and Peace. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997. 557 pp.

In 1954, Kenneth Waltz published his influential study Man, the State, and War, which analyzed three "images"--human nature, state structure, and the international system--that underlie explanations of the origins of war. Michael Doyle exploits the same typology to assess the relevance and implications of three paradigms--realism, liberalism, and socialism--for conceptions of war and peace. His comparative analysis, which consumes almost four hundred pages, includes case studies that probe the empirical utility of propositions derived from the three paradigms. The analysis as a whole provides the framework for final sections that compare what these paradigms have to say about important normative questions and what they predict about the shape of the post-Cold War world.

Doyle's remarkably ambitious study is commendable in several ways. It bridges the gap between empirical and philosophical approaches to international relations--something sorely needed at a time when so much scholarship in the field of international relations is driven by narrow, technical questions, many of which have little or no relevance to the real world. The great utility of political philosophy is that it focuses our attention on the "big" questions of politics and the concepts relevant to their study. Doyle zeroes in on these questions and offers a succinct and readable analysis of what some of the world's best philosophical minds have had to say about them. For this, if for no other reason, his work should be required reading for all graduate students in the field.

Waltz's classic study has a decided point of view: War can best be understood at the system level. Doyle carefully refrains from taking sides and produces a remarkably balanced study that both puts the best case forward for each of the paradigms and subjects them to thoughtful conceptual and empirical criticism. He is particularly good at distinguishing among the different strands of thought within each of the paradigms, directing our attention to their most sophisticated variants, and using these as representative of each paradigm. His chapter on Thucydides and complex realism, and its contrast to the succeeding chapters on Machiavelli and fundamentalism and Hobbes and structuralism, are especially informative. They also speak to the broader goal of the book: Doyle is less interested in testing the paradigms against each other--although there is certainly an important element of that in the volume--than in evaluating different formulations of each paradigm. He assumes, correctly, that all three paradigms have important things to say about the world, but that each paradigm could contribute more to our understanding if researchers applied more sophisticated variants of it in more sophisticated ways. His book points the way ahead in both respects.

The last two sections of the volume attempt to demonstrate the utility of the three paradigms for policy analysis and forecasting. Doyle addresses the controversial and largely normative questions of intervention and foreign aid and shows how each of the paradigms frames them. Once again, his analysis reveals that some of the most important differences are within paradigms, and that different variants of realism, liberalism, and socialism have very different takes on these thorny questions. His analysis [End Page 138] also shows the utility of applying the paradigms to big international issues; they are helpful heuristics that allow scholars to frame and order controversies and find or justify positions with which they feel comfortable.

The final section examines alternative futures, and uses variants of the three paradigms to identify the driving forces of international relations and the kinds of worlds to which they could lead. The diversity of outcomes is remarkable, and the exercise is a useful starting point for scholars who want to make theory-based predictions or provisional forecasts based on more general understandings of what is likely to shape international relations in the coming decades.

If I have a quibble, it is with Doyle's treatment of socialism. He...


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