The Strategy of World Order - Vol. 1

By Richard A. Falk; Saul H. Mendlovitz | Go to book overview
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peace in pursuit of their values."21 One may, however, agree with the first-image analysis of causes without admitting the possibility of meaningful prescription for their removal. St. Augustine attributes to man's love for "so many vain and hurtful things" a long list of human tribulations, ranging from quarrels and robberies to murders and war.22 The explanation is for him an unbreakable one, going beyond any man-made remedy. Man's sin explains both the necessity of political constraints and the necessarily defective quality of all political institutions. With many states, he once wrote, we have wars among them; given a world state, we would have wars within it.23 The thought finds its echo in the present when George Kennan defines the conduct of government as a "sorry chore . . . devolving upon civilized society, most unfortunately, as a result of man's irrational nature, his selfishness, his obstinacy, his tendency to violence."24 There is here an attractive world-weary wisdom as well as a valuable caution against expecting too much from changes in forms and institutions. Yet the first image, if rigidly held, becomes sterile. The search for causes is an attempt to account for differences. If men were always at war, or always at peace, the question of why war, or why peace, would never arise. What does account for the alternation of periods of war and peace? Human nature no doubt plays a role in bringing about war. Human nature, however, cannot by itself explain both war and peace, except by the simple statement that man's nature is such that sometimes he fights and sometimes he does not. And this statement leads inescapably to the attempt to explain why he fights sometimes and not others. The partial quality of the first image leads us to go beyond it in seeking the understanding that enables one to account for differences.

In a second image of international relations the basic causes of war are found in the political structures and social, economic conditions of the separate states. The initial argument is that all wars can be attributed to defects in some or in all states. The statement is then often reversed: If bad states make wars, good states would live at

W. Fred Clottrell, "Research to Establish the Conditions for Peace," The Journal of Social Issues, XI ( 1955), p. 20.
St. Augustine, The City of God, tr. Marcus Dods, Bk. XXII, ch. xxi.
23.Ibid., Bk. XIX, ch. vii.
George F. Kennan, Realities of American Foreign Policy ( Princeton, 1954), p. 48.


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