Economic Theories of Peace and War

Economic Theories of Peace and War

Economic Theories of Peace and War

Economic Theories of Peace and War

Synopsis

The role of economics in the study of war and peace is arguably the most important single factor when it comes to the study of defence. Fanny Coulomb's study will be of vital interest to those working in the defence industries as well as students and academics.

Excerpt

There is an extensive literature on the subject of military conflicts, because of their crucial character for humanity, at least because of the induced human and economic losses. Great works have thus been devoted to war and peace issues, notably in literature, philosophy, sociology and politics; in this last field, international relations even became a discipline after the Second World War, with the opposition between Morgenthau's realist current and Wilson's idealism. On the other hand, no great work has been published on these issues in the field of economics, except perhaps Guerre et Paix (Peace and War) written by J. Proudhon (1861), but which could just as well be considered as dealing with politics as with economics, or The Economic Consequences of the Peace by J.M. Keynes in 1919, but this deals exclusively with post-war economic policy issues, or a few other works written by less well-known economists of the inter-war period. The economic analysis of international conflicts therefore proves to be weak compared to the numerous studies conducted in other fields, notably in philosophy. However, the study of economic laws has often been integrated into a general theory of economic and strategic interstate relations. Yet, at this level, the economic analysis was much inspired by philosophical theories.

Philosophers were the first to link economic issues and conflicts, or to explain international relations which influenced economic thought. In an early conception, defence and power were presented as the superior social objectives, and economy as subordinated. Plato considers that wisdom rather than wealth should be the first aim of the ideal Estate. An important military force must be kept, the class of soldiers coexisting with the ones of producers and philosophers, the latter dominating the social hierarchy. The class of guardians ensures the internal order and also possesses the moral qualities necessary to define a foreign policy in accordance with wisdom. Aristotle defends the moderation of economic needs through virtue and he does not encourage trade; however, the society must be rich enough to ensure its defence. The conduct of a war of aggression can only ruin the guilty State, whose territorial expansion is also, in the long-term, a factor of destruction. Later, Saint Augustine established the bases of what is known today as the theory of the 'just war', which tends to legitimate armed conflicts under certain conditions, with regard to

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