The Remnants of War

The Remnants of War

JOHN MUELLER
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt7z7d7
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  • Book Info
    The Remnants of War
    Book Description:

    "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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5986-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
    J. M.
  4. INTRODUCTION: The Decline of War, the Persistence of Warfare
    (pp. 1-7)

    In some very important respects, the institution of war is clearly in decline. Certain standard, indeed classic, varieties of war—particularly major war, or wars among developed countries—have become so rare and unlikely that they could well be considered obsolescent, if not obsolete. Also in notable decline, it appears, are international war more generally, conventional civil war, colonial war, and ideological civil war. In this book I explore the possibility that war is in the process of, well, disappearing altogether.

    With only a few exceptions, two kinds of war remain. By far the more common is unconventional civil war,...

  5. CHAPTER 1 CRIMINAL AND DISCIPLINED WARFARE
    (pp. 8-23)

    In October 1990, three months before ordering half a million troops into combat in the Gulf War of 1991, U.S. general Norman Schwarzkopf observed, “War is a profanity because, let’s face it, you’ve got two opposing sides trying to settle their differences by killing as many of each other as they can.” War, as the general so vividly suggests, is centrally about violence, and particularly about killing. Or, as Geoffrey Parker puts it laconically, “The business of the military in war is killing people and breaking things.” From the perspective of the combatant, it is also about deprivation and boredom...

  6. CHAPTER 2 THE CONTROL OF WAR AND THE RISE OF WAR AVERSION
    (pp. 24-38)

    Over the course of the last millennium, warfare in Europe has gone from the commonplace and routine to the uncommon and avoided. This chapter ranges through some nine hundred years of history to trace the success of disciplined forces in Europe, the consequent creation of the state system there, the increasing control of war by political authorities, the persistence of enthusiasm for war, and the rise, for the first time in history, of focused, dedicated, vocal bands of war opponents in the decades before World War I.

    At one time, Europe was probably the most warlike place in the world....

  7. CHAPTER 3 WORLD WAR I AS A WATERSHED EVENT
    (pp. 39-49)

    European attitudes toward war changed profoundly at the time of World War I. There is no way to quantify this change except perhaps through a rough sort of content analysis. Before the First World War it was very easy, as documented in the previous chapter, to find serious writers, analysts, and politicians in Europe and the United States exalting war as desirable, inevitable, natural, progressive, and necessary. After the First World War, such pronouncements become extremely rare, although the excitement of the combat experience continued (and continues) to have its fascination to some.¹

    This suggests that the appeal of war,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 WORLD WAR II AS A REINFORCING EVENT
    (pp. 50-65)

    Europeans brought war under a degree of control in the middle of the last millennium with the development of disciplined military and policing forces and with the consequent rise of coherent states. But they still considered it to be a natural, inevitable and, often, desirable fact of life. After the trauma of World War I, they moved to use their control of war to eliminate the institution entirely from their affairs with each other.

    Since that war, countries in the developed world have participated in four wars or kinds of war: first, the cluster of wars known as World War...

  9. CHAPTER 5 WAR AND CONFLICT DURING THE COLD WAR
    (pp. 66-84)

    “A general unwillingness for war,” notes Evan Luard, can be exceedingly helpful in dampening pressures for war: crises that could be exploited to justify war are likely to be handled with “prudence, caution, and a general concern to avoid provocation.”¹ The Cold War between the Western and Communist worlds that burgeoned after World War II cannot be said to have been free of crises, but when things got tense, war-averse leaders mostly worked to keep them limited—or at any rate, to prevent them from escalating into direct war between their countries.

    Meanwhile, outside the Cold War, developed countries enjoyed...

  10. CHAPTER 6 CIVIL WAR AND TERRORISM AFTER THE COLD WAR
    (pp. 85-116)

    There may have been a decline in the appeal, and therefore in the frequency, of war—or of certain kinds of war—over the course of the last century or so. But this in no way suggests that war, or any specific kind of war, has become impossible.

    Nuclear weapons still exist in large numbers, and perhaps some states one bright morning will start slinging them at each other. France and Germany, countries that used to be remarkably good at figuring out how to get into wars with one another, could one day resume their time-tested custom; they certainly don’t...

  11. CHAPTER 7 ORDERING THE NEW WORLD
    (pp. 117-140)

    In his farewell address upon leaving the presidency in January 1953, Harry Truman looked forward to the post–Cold War period, or, as he put it, “the world we hope to have when the Communist threat is overcome.” It would be a “new era,” he suggested, “a wonderful golden age—an age when we can use the peaceful tools that science has forged for us to do away with poverty and human misery everywhere on the earth.”¹

    After 1989, the world entered that new era or, as some were given to calling it, a new world order. Over the course...

  12. CHAPTER 8 THE PROSPECTS FOR POLICING WARS
    (pp. 141-160)

    The post–Cold War experiences with policing wars outlined in the previous chapter were generally successful—at least in their own terms. Civil wars were halted and vicious regimes were ousted or significantly constrained. It would seem, then, that the prospects for international police work after the Cold War are considerable. This chapter explores the possibility that the developed states will be able to respond to this opportunity by creating mechanisms for systematically carrying out such policing wars.

    In general, the prospects seem limited. In the wake of the mostly American intervention in Iraq in 2003, extensive enthusiasm for, or...

  13. CHAPTER 9 THE DECLINE OF WAR: Explanations and Extrapolations
    (pp. 161-182)

    This book has traced what appears to be a decline in war. That venerable institution has for almost all of history been accepted as a natural, inevitable, and, often, desirable element in human affairs. However, over the course of the last century, the institution seems to have been losing that casual acceptance and is moving toward obsolescence, rather in the manner of slavery and dueling before it. In particular, although still entirely possible in a physical sense, the most often-discussed kind of war, major war—war among developed countries—is becoming increasingly unlikely as developed countries seize control of their...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 183-212)
  15. REFERENCES
    (pp. 213-246)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 247-258)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 259-260)