In attempting to formulate my thoughts on Part II of the "UN at the Crossroads or Cliff?" post, I revisited an old foundational book on international relations, Kenneth N. Waltz's "Man, The State, and War". Waltz was probing the issue of why nations go to war and analyzed conflict through three paradigms. The paradigms are given below with an exceptional commentary by Mitchell B. Reiss, Director of Policy Planning Department, US State Department, in a speech given at Tufts University. I strongly recommend the speech if you have the time.
1. War as a consequence of the nature and behavior of man
"The first was rooted in man himself--what Christian theologians call original sin, or the imperfect and imperfectable nature of man. In a world of evil men, those who wish to live in peace must prepare for war, whether they like it or not. Goodness is not self-evident, nor is it necessarily natural. Peaceful people cannot reason, negotiate, or appease the wolves and predators in their midst--the Hitlers, Stalins, and bin Ladens of the world. Violence must be checked by violence."
2. As an outcome of the internal organization of states
"Waltz realized that this explanation was true but insufficient. Human behavior is just as much a product of society and nurture as it is of choice and nature. Human beings create communities and regimes, but we are also defined by them. Fascist or totalitarian states ruled by elites behave differently than democratic governments accountable to their people. Thus, a second source of conflict is the internal character of the state--the public beliefs and practices, opinions and expectations, political systems and institutions of government that frame human behavior."
3. As a product of international anarchy
"But Waltz goes further. If the structure of the state and its system of governance shapes human behavior, then the structure of the international system must also shape state behavior. International politics is different than domestic politics, though, because no entity possesses a legal monopoly on the use of force. The countries of the world inhabit a self-help system, competing freely and independently to secure their own interests and promote their national security. There is no global structure capable of preventing one state from attacking another. This is the third source of conflict--a condition of anarchy that does not make war inevitable, only possible. Waltz argued that states must be prepared to use military force if necessary to protect themselves. No one else will do it for them."
His analysis was insightful during the Cold War, with wars being caused by nation against nation state and internally due to a failed state. However, Dr. Waltz was quoted in March 2000:
"'Never in modern history has a country been as secure as we are now,' he says. 'We have to invent threats. We have to dramatize them just to justify spending on defense.'"
Waltz, the realist that he was, didn't see the external threat to the US since his focus was on the nation state and the collective international system. His criticism of US defense spending speaks volumes when the attacks of 9/11 were just a little over a year away. The US clearly didn't have to invent threats as the destruction in New York, D.C. and a field in Pennsylvania clearly demonstrated. (For a continuation of Waltz's views, including his disgust with the Bush administration, see or read this UC Berkeley interview).
Just as many were blind to the threat of small-cell, organized terrorists using modern technology, computers, planes and box cutters mixed with a blindly zealous religious ideology, many are looking to solve the Greater War on Terror (GWoT) with old paradigms and Cold War institutions.
I am afraid the Western European approach, the collective head-in-the-sand approach of the EU and the UN, will not be of much value in deterring future threats. Collective irresponsibility is not a solution but a prolonging of the current war. Reiss takes Waltz's arguments and modernizes them, stating:
This new reality forces us to address what goes on within the borders of sovereign states. The transnational and subnational nature of today’s threats elevates the quality of regimes to the level of global importance. As a result, the United States cannot remain neutral about the internal structure of states. We must take a clear stand on the dynamics at work within foreign societies. We must help the governments of weak, corrupt, or failing states become effective, responsible, and successful.
Nowhere is this challenge more pressing than in the broader Middle East. Throughout that region, decades of political and economic corruption have produced resentment, humiliation, and hopelessness. Needless to say, this psychology does not mean that the people of this region will all become terrorists. But it does mean that the siren song of fanaticism sounds more appealing in their ears. [Bold is DEL selected]
Bringing democratic change to corrupt regimes is the only long-term solution to solving US security concerns. Democracy encourages life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Blind religious zealotry cannot survive in this type of environment. International structures that do not promote or support democracy are not in long-term US interests. Freedom is.
UPDATE: My site statistics show that this is a popular post especially for college students. If you have found this analysis helpful, please let me know in the comments section, or if it isn't let me know that too. If any of you would want to send me your paper on Man the State and War, I would be very curious to read (in strict confidentiality). College was a great time and I miss being around students who care about politics and how international relations work. Thanks for stopping by. (2.16.05)