I R Theory Essay

“Classical set-piece wars between states seem to be a thing of the past, replaced by Intra-wars, insurgency and counter-insurgency wars of one kind or another. These developments give us reason to re-think all our theories of war and peace. We need new theories about violence in world politics. ” Discuss this claim. War has been a major focal point in international relations for the past 300 years. The moral, legal, humans and strategic nature of war has, and will continue to command attention of all followers of world affairs.

War is a changing phenomena, taking on new characteristics as its surroundings change, diplomatic practitioners and academic experts regarded as one that it is fought between states but now this premise is being challenged. The theories developed by predominately by the realist paradigm are becoming anachronistic in its conception of war, a changing world means the realist notion of war is not relevant to emerging situations in the peripheral nations.

War as an instrument of state policy is a relatively new phenomena, early wars were often though for more medieval objectives, for example the spread of Christendom. War in Europe only became largely politically based after the 17th century, and the main purpose of the exercise of military power shifted to hold the advancement and protection of the state as its primary concern. Despite its negativity war exists because of its vital role in politics, the two are inter-linked, “war is a continuation of politics by other means”.

War is a vehicle of conflict resolution, generally undertaken when diplomatic measures have been exhausted, war causes an outcome, therefore a rational if not morally defensible means to a known end. History since the thirty years war (1648) has seen a process of state building by the European powers. Centralising monarchies by the 18th century has slowly gained a monopoly of force within there own territories and began to establish themselves as sovereign states. The concept of sovereignty was underpinned by the supreme authority of dynastic rule, that provided the residing monarch unshakeable authority.

War altered with the advent of napoleon and his imperialistic ideals. War turned from a limited exercise to a waged campaign of annihilation. Napoleons political ambitions preceded those of the previous century in its intensity, and the cost in life and money spurred an attempt to curb wars effects. The Congress of Vienna is the first diplomatic attempt to limit the effects and causes of war between states, still the great powers continued their nation building until the first world war.

The great war shattered a period of relative peace, its terrible consequences causing a shift in public opinion against war-fare. Increasing restraints were imposed upon the use of war as a means of furthering political ambition, the Kellogg Braind pact of 1928 compelled its signatories to exhaust diplomatic proceduer before violence. Those who violated the pact were guilty of ‘crimes against humanity’. This demonstrates the appeal of the ’strong state’ to developing nations, and that war between states continued despite attempts to curb it.

This culminated eventually in the ‘Cold war’, the ultimate State versus state stand off, the vast military resources and the human consequence nuclear weapons made the nations impotent by virtue of the destructive capability they possessed. This history generally supports the Clausewitzen definition of war, that it remains a means of serving the state. In the second half of this century the use of force remains a distinct possibility in the interactions of nations. State security remains a priority on governmental agendas, and even with the emergence of the UN no member relies comprehensively on its forces.

The great powers of the previous century dominated the development of international theory, the balance of power theory provided the realist solution to war by mutual deterrence. These great powers had secure boundaries, a highly developed infrastructure both social and political yet it was on the virtue of their military resources that they were perceived as ‘Great’. The theory of power runs synonymous with the phenonoma of war. In the new world order conflict between states Is rare, most war now occurs in the middle east, south east Asia and central America.

Since 1945 the great powers have generally had to respond to wars in what modern commentaries term a ‘weak state’. “the anarchy within states rather than between states is the fundamental condition that explains the prevalence of war since 1945?. A strong state is founded on the inter-relation between its physical attributes i. e. its territory, population, resources and its underpinning cultural base of affections and ideology. The paramount criteria that causes the gulf between assorting and a weak state is legitimacy, having legitimacy is quite simply the division between the states that succeed and fail.

For legitimacy to exist a state must satisfy the following characteristics; the physical basis including, effective sovereignty, and a international consensus on territory. Supported by an implicit social contract and a consensus on the concept of the state. It is exactly the failure to meet these dimensions that lead to the perils of the weak state, there are several causal factors to why periphery nations have difficulty achieving legitimacy. It stems from the nations development, many of which emerged from colonialism.

The colonial legacy has very negative consequences for the developing nation, principally because the social and political institutions left to the new nation hinders it rather than helps. The political institutions were founded on a western premise, political participation, accountability and constitutionalism are not always the suitable basis for development, it is as if the new nation has to set itself against a western template. The bureaucratic structure was inherently elitist, decisions made in the capital were often resented in the country.

Colonial authorities sustained cultural elite’s to rule over their inferiors, this was exactly the case in Rwanda. “In a number of instances .. the allocation by the state of differential rights of access was based on a normative scale according to which groups were seen as superior to others, and at times these normative evaluations were projected into the collective images which Africans formed of themselves. ” Colonialism also left organised military and police forces, often used as instruments of coercion.

In a deteriorating state they become a law unto themselves, selling themselves as mercenaries to wealthy independents. For the few states that do develop most descend into civil war, rebellion, wars of succession and political corruption, “between 1958 and 1985, there has been 65 forcible changes of government in Africa alone. ” It would be inaccurate to presume that Europe is spared these problems but the Intra-war in ex-Yugoslavia shattered this illusion. A feature of the war in Yugoslavia was ethnicity, ethnic hostilities hidden under the silencing hand of communism were emerging.

Experts on ethnicity such as Ted Gurr suggests that ethnic hatreds and affinities can be products of the weak state, they are not primordial but arise in particular political, social and economic conditions. The state can often be seen as exploiting ethnic grievances for their own political ends. Emerging peripheral nations have been unable to cope with the pressure of rapid economic modernisation and the legacy of colonialism, the tensions that arise cause stress on the basic foundations of the developing nation leading to a decent into revolutionary violence.

This alternative strategy of war fare is becoming increasingly prolific. the last major state confrontation could be viewed as the cold war and the nuclear stalemate that ensued, since the advent of nuclear weapons inter-state war has become obsolete because of the threat of total annihilation that is posed. The new form of war-fare is Intra-state war and insurgency. ” in the last eight years alone there have been no less that 164 internationally significant out breaks of revolutionary violence”.

The terms insurgency and revolutionary war-fare are largely inter-changeable, they refer to a particular variety of revolutionary activity that involves a protracted struggle using irregular military tactics. Tactics involve psychological and political operations in addition to conventional military strategies. The goal is generally to form a new system or political structure from within the state. Insurgency is markedly different to conventional war, T. E Elliot defines it as “an influence, an idea, a thing intangible, without front or back, drifting like a gas.

Conventional war focuses its attention on military considerations were insurgency is a multifaceted activity in which conflict takes on many different dimensions. Revolutionary warfare extends the battle front, the war is fought in a political, cultural, socio-economic and ideology. Military operations have an intimate relationship with politics, this view espoused by those such as Mao claims that all conflict must have a distinct political direction to succeed.

Like the NLF in Vietnam and MIN YUEN organisation in Malaya, insurgents see the population as key to the struggle the battle becomes on for hearts and minds. “the defeat of the military enemy, the overthrow of the government are secondary tasks, the primary effort of revolutionary warfare is to mobilise the population, without which no government can stand for a day. (Mao). Revolutionary warfare can been seen to have had varying rates of success. China, indo-china, Algeria, Cuba, Nicaragua were all notable victories whilst failures resided In Greece, Kenya, Peru and Bolivia.

The existence of internal instability and grievances coupled with favourable terrain and the open availability of arms from outside, means that revolutionary warfare will continue as a feature of Intra-state war-fare. It is a potent instrument that can force change. Insurgency is clearly a more tactically sound method of conducting warfare, for ideological reasons it is alleged that the USA used the CIA to organise and conduct military insurgencies into target states there is an allegation that the USA secretly committed US ground forces in Cuba, naturally the USA deny this.

For the past 200 years theories have emerged on warfare; game theory, deterrence, balance of power theory, all product of the realist paradigm. ‘Great Powers ‘ feature prominently from the balance of power era to the BI-polar cold war, a theme through out is that lesser powers were relegated to objects of the stronger states rivalry, subordinating them as less than self directed actors.

Modern theory should concentrate on the major sources of war that will continue to derive less from the character of relations between states and than what goes on within them. The focus of international politics must shift from the activities of the great powers to a concern with what we have traditionally considered peripheral actors, such as the developing nuclear confrontational stance of India and Pakistan.

The nature of war has changed, technology now presents the west a mobile platform from which to militarily threaten those collide with our ideals. Air raids continue presently over Kosovo, indicating how Nato can wield military muscle without the risk of committing troops and bogging down in a land war, conflict without much risk. As for the prospects for peace, it is now the UN’s duty to sustain and resuscitate weak states to best serve its peace keeping ideals, Rwanda was a catastrophe that must not be repeated, it must get better.