A Theory of
Revolution and War
"Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement."
— V. I. Lenin
Why do revolutions intensify security competition among states and markedly increase the danger of war? My explanation is laid out in three steps. I begin by setting aside the subject of revolution to consider how states interact in the international system, focusing on those factors that account for security competition and war. To this end, I offer a simple theory of international politics, which I call balance-of-threat theory. I then analyze the revolutionary process in some detail, in order to identify how revolutions affect the states in which they occur. Next, I bring these two lines of analysis together and show how revolutions affect international politics. Specifically, revolutions alter the main elements of threat identified by balance-of-threat theory, thereby encouraging states to favor the use of force. I conclude with specific predictions and set the stage for the subsequent case studies.
Like all realist theories, balance-of-threat theory begins by recognizing that states dwell in an anarchic environment in which no agency or institution exists to protect them from each other. Security is thus the highest aim of states, and foreign policy decisions will be strongly influenced by how national leaders perceive the external environment and by how different strategies are expected to affect their relative positions. 1____________________