People have debated the causes of war for as long as they have been fighting them. Since Middle East madness is on the front news burner, I thought it might be useful for us to discuss some of the basic thinking on what causes political violence and warfare and whether they are waxing or waning, and whether those factors might be joined by new ones in the 21st century.
In modern times, most attention has been paid to the causes and dynamics of inter-state wars, wars between nations. I am not very familiar with this body of work. Much of it either is in in books or gated at academic sites or the major national security-oriented journals. But, it’s not hard to guess the basic culprits they identify, like nationalism, imperialism, religion, resource acquisition, etc. Other factors they debate are more subtle, especially those that have to do with the dynamics of international alliances, globalization’s effects, and aggressor states’ internal political struggles. As the links this week indicate, new factors could come into play, notably climate stress and reactions against globalization’s further disruptions, and more failed states.
I will open the meeting with…very little this week. You all know your history and I don’t know this field of scholarship. So, I guess I’ll just introduce the topic and highlight a few of the “new” factors that might be added to the classic causes of war we all can list. In discussion, we can either stay abstract or debate particular hot spots where we all expect trouble to brew in the coming decades.
It was very hard to find good links this week, due to the books and pay walls problem. Try the recommended ones or the harder, optional ones.
SUGGESTED BACKGROUND READING –
- No more easy wars for the USA. Requires free sign up to read (if you want to).
- But, we have never been safer! Recommended.
- Five “themes” will underlie future wars. Recommended.
- The “clash of civilizations” theory. Most future wars will occur at the frictional boundaries of major human cultures like Muslim/African, Chinese/West, etc.
- Climate change could cause huge wars over diminishing resources. Recommended.
- Especially over water. More sanguine view here.
- Seven ongoing powder kegs that could spiral into future wars.
- Two (very) optional long reads:
Next Week: Big Agriculture in the USA.