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The Diffusion of Military Power

The Diffusion of Military Power: Causes and Consequences for International Politics

Michael C. Horowitz
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 286
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  • Book Info
    The Diffusion of Military Power
    Book Description:

    The Diffusion of Military Powerexamines how the financial and organizational challenges of adopting new methods of fighting wars can influence the international balance of power. Michael Horowitz argues that a state or actor wishing to adopt a military innovation must possess both the financial resources to buy or build the technology and the internal organizational capacity to accommodate any necessary changes in recruiting, training, or operations. How countries react to new innovations--and to other actors that do or don't adopt them--has profound implications for the global order and the likelihood of war.

    Horowitz looks at some of the most important military innovations throughout history, including the advent of the all-big-gun steel battleship, the development of aircraft carriers and nuclear weapons, and the use of suicide terror by nonstate actors. He shows how expensive innovations can favor wealthier, more powerful countries, but also how those same states often stumble when facing organizationally complicated innovations. Innovations requiring major upheavals in doctrine and organization can disadvantage the wealthiest states due to their bureaucratic inflexibility and weight the balance of power toward smaller and more nimble actors, making conflict more likely. This book provides vital insights into military innovations and their impact on U.S. foreign policy, warfare, and the distribution of power in the international system.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3510-2
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-17)

    Innovations in the production, deployment, and application of military power are crucial to international politics. Unfortunately, most assessments of the international security environment fail to incorporate either the relevance of military innovations or the importance of their spread. For example, in a thirty-year period, from 1850–80, the French Navy became the first to develop shell guns, and the first to deploy a steam-powered warship, an ironclad warship, a mechanically powered submarine, and a steel-hulled warship. These developments should have helped the French Navy gain superiority over its bitter rival, the British Royal Navy, but they did not. Moreover, barely...

    (pp. 18-64)

    War is a harsh teacher, Thucydides tells us. We either learn from others who are better at fighting than we are or we die. Yet there are puzzles. France knew after World War I that Germany remained economically and demographically stronger than France. Knowledge of the emergence of blitzkrieg warfare in Germany was available. In the 1930s, however, the French Army planned for the same kind of slow, methodical, defensive war that World War I had taught, even though the logic of its alliance system called for an offensive against Germany in the event of a German attack on Poland....

  7. Chapter 3 CARRIER WARFARE
    (pp. 65-97)

    As the predominant form of naval power, aircraft carriers are one of the clearest symbols of military strength on earth. Short of the atomic bomb, nothing signifies the power of a great nation like the possession of a fleet of aircraft carriers, able to control the oceans and project power across great distances. It was the transition from battleship to carrier warfare that helped shepherd in the era of U.S. naval supremacy, and the complexities involved in adopting the innovation have ensured U.S. naval superiority ever since. The United States currently possesses an overwhelming advantage in naval power fueled in...

    (pp. 98-133)

    At an Armistice Day ceremony on November 11, 1948, during an address as part of the events, General Omar Bradley stated that “ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.” What did he mean? He was likely referring to the tremendous, and not completely understood, destructive capacity of the atomic bomb, and what it meant for the moral and ethical dilemmas common to warfare. For leaders who came of age in World War II, where authorizing an air strike meant sending hundreds of planes to drop tens of thousands of bombs, the idea that one plane carrying one...

    (pp. 134-165)

    On October 21, 1805, Admiral Horatio Nelson and his British fleet wiped out a combined French and Spanish fleet at Trafalgar, ushering in decades of British naval superiority. In 1828, following a victory over the Ottoman Navy at Navarino in 1827 and conscious of their global leadership in sea power, the lords of the British Admiralty issued a regulation discouraging the development of steam-powered boats with the logic that any naval technological innovations would only threaten Britain’s naval predominance. These regulations controlled the British Navy for thirty years; in 1851 the British Navy still looked like it had for much...

    (pp. 166-207)

    In the mid-1990s, after the first World Trade Center attack, Osama Bin Laden apparently made an important decision with major repercussions for U.S. strategy. Up until then, the burgeoning terrorist group now known as Al Qaeda had played a major role in Salafi jihadi terrorist operations around the world, but its involvement was mostly behind the scenes. Al Qaeda provided financing for operations, trained fighters from affiliated groups, and smuggled weapons to sympathetic parties. Yet Bin Laden, Al Qaeda’s leader, determined that it was time for Al Qaeda itself to engage in a major attack and step out of the...

  11. Chapter 7 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 208-226)

    In 1452, Sultan Mehmed II, the ruler of the rising Ottoman Empire, had a problem.¹ While the Ottoman Sultanate had conquered most of the former Byzantine Empire’s territory, the walls of Constantinople, the crown jewel of Asia Minor, still held. Mehmed II worried that despite the enormous naval and land forces he had amassed, including Bashi-bazouks and Janissaries, he could not breach the walls and conquer the city. His advisers brought a Hungarian engineer named Urban before him; Urban purported to have the ability to build the largest gun ever constructed for the purposes of battering down the walls of...

    (pp. 227-231)
    (pp. 232-236)
    (pp. 237-264)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 265-273)