Politics and Welfare
Wars have been a common phenomenon all around the globe since the time immemorial. Some of the main wars include the French Revolution, the First World War, the Second World War, and other smaller military conflicts that occurred in the world in various ages and years. Scientists and researchers have developed a number of theories in an attempt to explain why the wars occur. Notwithstanding, there is no single tool that can completely explain the nature of a conflict. Therefore, it is evident that the topic is very complex inasmuch as journalists, scholars, and public intellectuals have struggled with it for many years. The current paper aims at describing the sources of war globally mainly according to Doyle’s views of realism and liberalism. All the aspects of each theory, namely liberalism and realism, are highlighted in the essay, and their role in increasing the comprehension of the causes of a conflict are considered. The General Theory of War is evaluated in order to better understand why nations engage in wars.
The General Theory of War
Over the years, scholars from various disciplines such as history, political science, theology, biology, philosophy, and mathematics among others have developed their views concerning the origins of war (Waltz 61). There are many challenges in the aftermath of any military conflict, including psychological challenges and stresses experienced by the army (Kindsvatter 34). This issue, however, does not prevent the occurrence of wars when they are deemed inevitable. The General Theory of War comprises five hypotheses, including the domestic commitment and warfare, dominance of the state concerns, and systemic anarchy. Moreover, some international institutions such as the United Nations Organization do not have an ability to dominate over the nations’ self-interests. Finally, the motivation of decision-makers is influenced by certain purpose, as well as contingent differences.
According to Doyle (137), the causes of wars in the world can be explained by the realism and liberalism concepts. Realism often refers to the lack of focal power in the international system. The lack of focal authority (anarchy) means that the countries are self-governed and, in this manner, independent of one another; no intrinsic organization or society can demand or even request associations between them. Therefore, any compulsion can only temporally bind the countries and only if they give consent. In realism, power is comprehended through various methods such as diplomatic, monetary, and militarily ones. Moreover, the determinant of the global legislative is an appropriation of the oppressive material.
Realism, as a way of visualizing the world, is created around four suppositions:
- The first hypothesis states that every country’s primary objective is its survival. For that reason, the greatest danger that a state can encounter is being attacked and conquered by another. Sometimes, country’s local concerns may require it to collaborate with the other countries in the world. However, such a country will still strive to preserve adequate control in order to be able to fight its enemies, as well as achieve its goals towards its existence.
- The second assumption of realism is that countries act in a rational manner (Doyle 65). If there is any opportunity to continue existence, they will adopt any possible strategy to survive.
- Thirdly, the world, in which the states exist, is both uncertain and risky since all countries have a necessary military capability. Nevertheless, there is no country, which is certain of what the other countries may plan.
- Finally yet importantly, in the anarchy world, global relations between nations are mainly determined by the Great Powers’ politics. The Great Powers are the countries that possess a powerful military and have prospering economies.
Proponents of the realism theory are referred to as realists; they are divided into defensive or offensive realists. The two groups hold divergent views. From the perspective of the offensive realists, powerful countries or societies may take full advantage of the situation at the cost of the less powerful countries or societies in order to maximize their survival. Nations are insecure whenever a rival state has more power since it poses a threat. At this point, if it is possible, the state should adopt hegemony as the main strategy (Doyle 97). On the other hand, according to defensive realists, countries do not need to dominate to exist. They are of the opinion that any act of hegemony is precarious as it can result in serious wars. Furthermore, the best strategy to prevent the states from attacking each other is ensuring that power is shared equally among all the players (Doyle 243). As a result, the world will be stable as there will be no wars among the countries. Today, accumulating great power in the hands of the more powerful states at the expense of the less powerful ones yields popularity, and this is an important facet of realism.
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Another considerable feature of realism is the presence of global regulation among states, which is not a source but a sign of these nations’ conduct. The internationally set rules do not make countries preserve international laws (Doyle 346). Realism is of the opinion that global politics does not have any control over the behavior of the countries but only shows whether power is in equilibrium. Therefore, international politics is just an epiphenomenal among the states. Realism does not consider international laws and institutions significant in the anarchy world. It further explains that, in the world without a centralized authority, the countries’ power is the only way to enforce the law (Doyle 71). Many people, thus, have wondered why a country will use its power to put into effect international laws if it does not believe in it.
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Consequently, according to realism, countries are likely to fight against each other to maintain their sovereignty and survive. They can also attack each other if they feel threatened by their neighbors and need to defend. In addition, countries do not believe in the global rules and organizations, yet they collaborate with them to further their states’ interests. Besides, the international political affairs are mostly controlled by the countries with the most powerful military and developed economy (Doyle 19).
The second aspect that can cause wars among different nations is liberalism. This theory is more complicated than realism, and is not consistent yet. It differs from the realism theory in that one of its fundamental characteristics states that international relations depend on the general features of each country (Doyle 323). In realism, internationally, all the countries have a similar purpose of following their wealth ambitions for survival. Therefore, they all behave in the same way despite the unique features of every nation. The liberal theorists have always put more emphasize on the distinct features of the moderate nations. In the recent past, liberalism has adopted a new view of describing the hypothesis of international associations, which are influenced by the common characteristics of the countries.
Another feature of the liberalism theory is the democratic peace phenomena. The democratic peace means a limited number of conflicts between the liberal nations, which are characterized as the full-grown liberal vote-based systems (Doyle 84). Researchers have tested this phenomenon through a broad factual examination and found it to hold, with maybe a particular case of a couple of marginal cases. Nonetheless, the hypothesis behind this observational reality is less understandable. Scholars in the global relations have not yet made up a convincing theory of why the vote-based nations do not battle one another. In addition, the way towards gaining democratic peace can still be bloody since such nations are more prone to conflicts than either totalitarian or liberal vote-based systems (Doyle 278). Therefore, the countries that claim to be democratic can still engage in bloody wars, for instance, the conflicts that occur in some African and Arab countries after elections take place.
Furthermore, a broader liberal hypothesis of the global associations is founded on three assumptions:
- Firstly, individuals and private gatherings, but not the nations, are the leading players in the international political affairs (Doyle 257).
- Secondly, most countries act on behalf of the local society, which they serve.
- The third assumption of global relations is that the setup of these inclinations over the universal framework influences the way a nation conducts itself internationally.
Fixed limitations of the interactions of the socially determined country’s preference include worries about the appliance of force or appropriateness of data. According to this perspective, the nations are not just the elements, which are trying to exist and flourish in a framework that does not have a focal authority. These countries comprise groups of people and individuals, who subsequently venture their concerns into the universal structure through a particular type of government. In this view, business intrigues or ideological convictions are vital even if the need for general survival is an important objective (Doyle 123). Sometimes, these groups may have selfish interests that cause wars in their countries. It happens because they have a lot of influence on the conduct of the existing government in such states.
Lastly, the liberalism hypothesis is very complex; therefore, global lawyers face many complexities since the international laws do not leave room for an absolute regime. The theories are used by international courts to influence local institutions and politics. It happens because they provide some important facts that are useful in the formation and operation of such organizations. For instance, the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in the Hague is based on the local nature of the state’s government (Schiff 82). Consequently, international lawyers can better comprehend the importance of a strong local legal structure instead of a primary authority like the ICC. However, since most countries do not have independent judicial systems, an international court is still very crucial in preventing wars among them (Slaughter 19).
There are some other hypotheses of describing what causes conflicts and bloody warfare in various parts of the world.
For instance, the General Theory of War has five suppositions:
- The first states that, in a framework of anarchy, the actions of a nation are solely manipulated to balance power (Magagna). States try to balance power through such activities as the formation of alliances and spending on defense. Investing in defense, for example, military, is important to any country as it will be able to shield itself from the interior and outside invasions. However, there are states that overspend on the improvement of defense mechanisms and, sometimes, on the development of prohibited means, for instance, nuclear weapons. Such a country may be the source of war since international institutions are against the possession of any weapons of mass destruction. Formation of alliances greatly assists in maintaining the power (Van Evera 40). For example, nations located in the same region can join their efforts to fight a common enemy. Examples are the alliances that were formed during the Second World War between the US, UK, and other countries; and Germany, Japan, and their affiliates. Conversely, occasionally, the efforts to balance power cause instability such as the decline or rise of the nations. Some states grow because of investing in the military, as it was in the case of the United States after the Second World War.
- Secondly, the intentions of decision-makers are influenced by their goals, as well as inherent conflicts. Under this hypothesis, states may start a war because of a hegemonic threat (Magagna). It occurs when another country acquires more power and becomes a threat. The state will use all the efforts in order to increase its power and outdo the enemies. In the modern world, the Middle East is an example of this effect. For instance, Iran is creating nuclear weapons in order to be more powerful than the neighbors such as Israel and its allies (Copeland 77). It is a method of verifying that if the neighbors ever attack, the country will defend itself in the best way possible.
- The third hypothesis proves that international institutions do not have the power of dominating over the self-interests of states although they can decrease the chances of war (Magagna). Different countries possess varying interests that they want to achieve. Some of these interests may not be good for the citizens though the government plans to fulfill them. Such self-interests have erupted wars in most parts of the world, for example, Ukraine, Israel, and Palestine among others. The United Nations (UN), which is an international institution, has tried all means of persuading the nations to change the destructive self-interests to no avail. For example, the UN has managed to stop the war between Israel and Palestine but not Israel’s interest in the Gaza Strip. Self-interest of the states is one of the most dangerous motivations of starting a war (Manus 49).
- Besides, the General Theory of War has a fourth hypothesis of a long-term dominance of the countries’ interests. This theory is evident in the conflicts caused by trade and alliance survival issues (Magagna). Trade is a significant facet of any country that wants to grow economically. However, in starting the war, some states are driven by selfish interests of getting resources from the other countries. For example, a more powerful country might invade a less developed one to get oil.
- The fifth hypothesis considers the relationship between the war and domestic commitment. It refers to the degree of dedication of the citizens of a particular state and whether they will be ready to engage and win a battle. For instance, soldiers in the American Civil War remained convinced of the ideas, for which they fought. They were motivated by different factors such as their faith and belief coupled with honor and duty. Some soldiers are motivated by their patriotic attitudes that make them ready to sacrifice on behalf of their nation (McPhearson 53). Domestic commitment entails the opportunity costs to be paid for when a country is on war; they include heavy taxation and debts, preparedness of the military, mass mobilization, costs of commitment, and risks of warfare. During a war, a state is forced to use much money from taxation to fund the warfare. There is a possibility of higher taxes and debts even after the war is over. Most of the times, the involved countries are severely damaged during the war and require extra money to reconstruct (Dower 106). Finally, the government shifts the focus from its citizens to financing the battle. The willingness of a country to forego such opportunity costs will resolve whether a state engages in a war or not.
In brief, there are many theories that describe the causes of conflicts, for example, realism and liberalism. The General Theory of War also studies how wars between the states begin. However, no single hypothesis can fully illustrate the phenomenon, and that is the reason for why it is advisable to consider different theories. Realism asserts that countries always strive for survival; great powers influence international politics; states are likely to engage in wars for survival, and international law is not a source of control for the states. On the other hand, liberalism states that international relations depend on the general features of each country. It also bases its explanation on the democratic peace theory. Further, the General Theory of War has five hypotheses, which were described in the paper.