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Why Nations Go to War: The Determinants of War

Why Nations Go to War

The first general theme that compels attention is that no nation that began a major war in the twentieth century emerged a winner. Austria-Hungary and Germany, which precipitated World War I, went down to ignominious defeat. Hitler’s Germany was crushed into unconditional surrender. The North Korean attack was thwarted by collective action and ended in a draw. Lyndon Johnson escalated the Vietnam war to more than 500,000 American troops because he did not want to be the first American president to lose a war, whereupon he lost it anyway, and paid for it with more than 58,000 American lives. The Arabs, who invaded the new Jewish state in 1948, lost territory to the Israelis in four successive wars. Pakistan, which sought to punish India through preemptive war, was dismembered in the process. Iraq, which invaded Iran in 1980 confident of a quick victory, had to settle for a costly stalemate eight years and half a million casualties later. And when Saddam provoked most of the world by invading Kuwait in 1990, he was expelled by UN forces. Slobodan Milosevic, whose henchmen “cleansed” much of Bosnia of Croats and Moslems in the pursuit of a Greater Serbia, was forced to give back most of his conquests. And his “final solution” for the Albanians in Kosovo was nullified by an aroused NATO, which was repelled by barbarisms similar to those of the Nazi era. Hitler ended his own life, but Milosevic ended his in a jail cell.
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Why Nations Go to War

Why Nations Go to War

The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart One must imagine Sisyphus happy. (ALBERT CAMUS, “THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS”)

“If you look too deeply into the abyss,” said Nietzsche, “the abyss will look into you.” The nature of war in our time is so terrible that the first temptation is to recoil. Who of us has not concluded that the entire spectacle of war has been the manifestation of organized insanity? Who has not been tempted to dismiss the efforts of those working for peace as futile Sisyphean labor? The face of war, Medusa-like with its relentless horror, threatens to destroy anyone who confronts it.
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Why Nations Go to War: Preface

Why Nations Go to War

The twenty-first century brought with it two new kinds of war: the horrendous events of September 11, 2001, which precipitated an invasion of Afghanistan but failed to find the elusive perpetrator of the 9/11 disaster, Osama bin Laden. Instead, the United States embarked on a highly controversial preemptive war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. An analysis of this war with some new reflections on its resolution constitutes Chapter 9 of this edition.
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Why Nations Go to War

Why Nations Go to War

By John G. Stoessinger
Distinguished Professor of Global Diplomacy University of San Diego


1. The Iron Dice: World War I
The Kaiser’s Fateful Pledge, The Austrian Ultimatum to Serbia, The Closing Trap, The Iron Dice, Conclusion

2. Barbarossa: Hitler’s Attack on Russia
Hitler and Russia, Stalin and Germany, Conclusion

3. The Temptations of Victory: Korea
President Truman’s Decision, General Macarthur’s Gamble, North Korea’s Brinksmanship

4. A Greek Tragedy in Five Acts: Vietnam
Act One: Truman-Asia was not Europe, Act Two: Eisenhower-The Lesson of France Ignored, Act Three: Kennedy-The Military, Act Four: Johnson-The Catastrophe, Act Five: Nixon-Full Circle, Conclusion

5. From Sarajevo to Kosovo: The Wars of Europe’s Last Dictator
The Dismemberment of Yugoslavia Begins, The War in Bosnia, The Tide Turns Against the Serbs The Dayton Peace Accords, The UN War Crimes Tribunal 153 Kosovo and Milosevic’s Downfall, Conclusion: A New Dawn of Peace with Justice?

6. In the Name of God: Hindus and Moslems in India and Pakistan
Colonialism, Partition, and War, The Kashmir War of 1965, The Bloody Dawn of Bangladesh, Nuclear Viagra, India’s 9/11: Mumbai, November 2008

7. The Sixty Years’ War in the Holy Land: Israel and the Arabs
The Palestine War of 1948, The Sinai Campaign and the Suez Crisis of 1956, The Six-Day War of 1967 The October War of 1973, The Lebanese Tragedy, The Palestinian Uprising, The Peace Process: Between Fear and Hope The Second Palestinian Uprising and the Road Map, History Interrupted, “Giving War a Chance”: America, Israel, and Hezbollah, War Over Gaza, Conclusion

8. The War Lover: Saddam Hussein’s Wars against Iran and Kuwait
The Iran-Iraq War: The Price of Martyrdom, Saddam’s Aggression Against Kuwait

9. New Wars for a New Century: America and the World of Islam
George W. Bush: From Pragmatist to Crusader, War Drums, The “War After the War”: Dilemmas of Occupation, The Capture of Saddam, Mission Accomplished? Elections in Iraq, The Descent Into Civil War, Law and Society Under Islam: Three Vignettes Nato’s War in Afghanistan, The Iranian People’s Uprising of 2009 and the Nuclear Crisis, The Trial of Saddam Hussein, Reflections on Iraq’s Past and Future What Went Wrong?, What Can be Done to Set Things Right?, Conclusion: Perils of Empire

10. Why Nations Go to War
The Determinants of War, Heart of Darkness: Rwanda and Darfur, Learning from History

Republished by Kajian Internasional Strategis


War: A Short History: Conclusions: Assessing War

War A Short History

The centrality of war in history emerges clearly in any discussion of particular countries or of specific centuries. A brief study written by a British author for a British publisher risks putting the premium on conflicts involving Britain, but the emphasis here has been more wide-ranging, not least with the discussion of developments in China. Such a focus serves as a reminder of the very different political and geographical environments for conflict. A stress on contrasting political environments is of particular importance because there is a tendency to emphasize regular warfare-wars between states; rather than paying due attention to conflicts within states, such as, in the case of China, the Sanfen and Taipeng Rebellions and the Chinese Civil War.
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War: A Short History: Introduction

War A Short History

We were promised the end of war with the ‘end of history’ or with the obsolescence brought about by nuclear weapons. The reality has been very different. War has been a major aspect of politics since 1990, notably, but not only, in Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans. As I write, the Russians are invading Georgia while NATO forces are under pressure from a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the threat of hostilities remains a key feature in world developments, not least, in terms of ‘high spectrum’ weaponry, with talk of future confrontation between China and the United States, and, at ‘lower spec’, with discussion of conflicts over resources, particularly water. On top of this comes terrorism, as well as conflicts within states. A key element of the modern world, and one that threatens to be an important feature of the future, war therefore deserves re-examination. This book sets out to do so by providing a short thematic history, with references forward to present and future.
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War: A Short History: Preface

War A Short History

The opportunity to write a short history of war is particularly welcome because of the importance of the topic if we are to understand past, present and future. The major themes of the book are all pertinent today: the variety of military environments, systems and methods of warmaking, and thus the need for caution in assessing capability. Rather than assuming, in any specific period, the global effectiveness of a particular army, the theme here is the extent to which a number of effective forces co-exist as they display best practice in specific contexts. The chronological divisions used in the book are designed to focus on ‘world-scale’ issues. In Chapter 3, the West does not have the dominant role it enjoys in Chapter 5, while in Chapter 6 the West faces greater problems projecting its power irrespective of its strength.
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