3
CORRELATES

Nearly everyone knows that correlation is not causation. ( Haas 1974: 59)

The numbers must be used carefully for interpretation, not mechanically. ( Russett 1993: 54)

A NUMBER of distinct questions arise under the rubric of the causes of war. 'What are the necessary conditions of all wars?' is one. To this, however, a conceptual enquiry produces relatively trivial answers, and a scientific investigation is likely not to yield any positive answer at all. Historians would urge us to ask a more modest, but to them more meaningful, question: 'What caused this war?' If one's aim is to reduce the frequency of future wars, however, this question is perhaps less useful to explore than a more general question, 'What have been the relatively common causes of war?'.

Historians would suggest that this general question--call this (b′) --could only arise after a series of particular ones: we study many wars, identify the causes of each, and then make a list of those causes, if any, which appear relatively frequently. J. G. Stoessinger follows this path in his Why Nations Go to War ( 1985). If, however, each war studied yields several plausible interpretations regarding its causes, as can be expected from Nelson and Olin survey ( 1979), it cannot be a very easy task to make a reliable list of frequent causes by comparing many wars.

Another possible route is statistical. This leads us to investigate a cluster of questions such as our question (b): 'Under what sorts of circumstances have wars occurred more frequently?' Exploring this question may be a valuable first step towards answering (b′): 'What have been the relatively common causes of war?' Moreover, war-related conditions may be useful to identify regardless of whether they are also causally significant factors: the correlational knowledge, though not necessarily a causal knowledge, may be used as a basis for prediction and control, and may perhaps contribute to

-80-

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On the Causes of War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Questions 11
  • 2 - Prerequisites 43
  • Conclusion 77
  • 3 - Correlates 80
  • Conclusion 112
  • 4 - Causation 114
  • Conclusion 150
  • 5 - Origins 153
  • Conclusion 195
  • Conclusion 199
  • References 211
  • Index 231
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