War, Peace, and World Orders in European History

War, Peace, and World Orders in European History

War, Peace, and World Orders in European History

War, Peace, and World Orders in European History

Synopsis

This book explores a new way for students of International Relations to look at war, peace and world orders throughout European history. The contributors argue that the predominant 'realist' paradigm that focuses on states and their self-interest is not applicable to the largest period of European history, because states either did not exist or were only in the making. Instead, they argue, we have to look through the eyes of historical entities to see how they understood the world in which they lived, The authors use a wide range of case-studies, focusing on subjects as diverse as the ancient Greek concept of honour and persecution under Communist regimes during the Cold War to explore the ways in which people in different societies at different times perceived and felt about war and peace in the world around them.

Excerpt

Throughout the twentieth century, the study of war and peace constituted the central core of the evolving field of international relations (IR). Although there were other dimensions to this field, none seemed as important as understanding why war has proved to be such a pervasive feature of human activity and why peace has always proved to be so impermanent. As we moved into the nuclear era, and the possibility of war precipitating human extinction became more than just theoretical, these issues acquired an added urgency. In his classic survey, Man, the State and War, Kenneth Waltz argues that three competing explanations of war have been identified by those who have given this matter their serious attention. Some thinkers have attributed war to human aggression, while others have argued that only certain types of state are prone to war. But Waltz argues that it is the anarchic structure of the international system that provides the most convincing explanation for why war has proved to be such a ubiquitous and perennial scourge. During the Cold War, a huge volume of research examined the features of the anarchic international system that purportedly promote or inhibit war. In the aftermath of the Cold War, however, the significance of the anarchic system has been downgraded and increasing attention has been paid to the political units that make up the system. Picking up on Kantian ideas, growing credence is now being given to the democratic peace theory that explains why a world of liberal democracies can expect to live together in peace and harmony.

The study of IR, however, has certainly not had a monopoly on the analysis of war and peace. Contemporary disciplines as diverse as anthropology and psychology have also periodically registered an interest in this area, but the most significant competitors to IR specialists in this field are diplomatic and military historians whose work centres on the study of war and peace. Although specialists in IR regularly use the work of these historians as a storehouse of information, all too often, an undesirable and unhelpful tension has formed between these two groups of scholars. From the perspective of IR, historians tend to be so bogged down in detail that they are unable to say anything of general interest about the phenomena of war and peace. On the other side of the coin, however, when historians

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