Thursday, May 23, 2019
Why Nations Go To War
WHY NATIONS GO TO WAR is a unique book and a product of reflection by author, Dr. John G. Stoessinger. First published in 1978, its Eleventh Edition with additions came aside in 2010. It is built around ten baptistery studies, culminating in the new wars that ushered in the twenty-first century Iraq, Afghanistan, and the wars between Arabs and Israelis in Gaza and in Lebanon. In the book he analyses the most all-important(prenominal) military conflicts of the twentieth century First knowledge domain War, operation Barbarossa, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the war in Yugoslavia, the India-Pakistan conflict etc.The distinguishing feature of the book is the authors emphasis on the pivotal fibre of the personalities of leading who take their nations, or their following, across the threshold into war. Thus this book transmits an understanding of warfare from World War I to the present century. Dr. Stoessinger believes that the war is neither impersonal, nor inevitable, reason th at the responsibility for a war doesnt lie solely with certain events, because everything is, in fact, about the decisions that hefty deal make.He argues that many a(prenominal) conflicts could arrive been avoided without the use of force or without difference to war. Dr. John G. Stoessinger attended college at Grinnell College in Iowa as an undergraduate and completed his Ph. D. in International Relations at Harvard. He has taught at several universities including Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Princeton, and the University of San Diego, where he is accreditedly a Distinguished Professor of Global Diplomacy. In addition to his teaching career, Dr. Stoessinger has also led the International Seminar on International Relations at Harvard in 1969.He was also the keynote speaker at the World Congress of Junior Chamber International during their fiftieth anniversary event in Kobe, Japan. Dr. Stoessinger has written ten books on international relations and was awarded the Bancroft Prize f or The Might of Nations World Politics in Our Time. He has served as the book review editor of irrelevant Affairs, acting director of the Political Affairs Division of the United Nations, and is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations. He has been included in Whos Who in the States and Whos Who in the World. Dr.Stoessinger is notable for his individual analyses of war, contrasted with the systemic views more commonly studied by semipolitical scientists after the Second World War. Stoessinger was only a child when Adolf Hitler invaded his home of Austria in order to obtain Anschluss. As a Jewish family, they needed to escape from the Nazis. They received a visa to Shanghai, China from Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who helped thousands of Jews escape from the Nazis. These were the beginnings that shaped Dr. Stoessingers world view and interest in WHY NATIONS GO TO WAR.In the books introduction, Dr. Stoessinger tells how, when he was a student, he was always dissatisfied with the explanations found in history books regarding wars nationalism, militarism, alliance systems, economic factors and other fundamental causes that, according to him, couldnt be directly united to the precise moment of a wars beginning. He argues that these fundamental causes of wars throughout history are those forces that bulk apparently dont control, although it is people who lie at the base of a conflict.In analyzing the 10 conflicts presented in the book, Dr. Stoessinger searches for the moment of equity, the one in which the leaders take the fatal step towards the war, and he wonders in which precise moment the decision to go to war becomes irreversible, who takes responsibility for it and if the disasters could slang been avoided. Dr. Stoessinger has set up his book to look at the events that led to peculiar(prenominal) wars of the twentieth century and then drawing parallels between the different wars that might not have been apparent or obvious at the times of th e mingled conflicts.The book closely examines each war or group of wars in individual chapters arranged in a near chronological order with a conclusion chapter that pulls from all of the conflicts previously presented. This approach is very vigorous organized and helps the reader to follow the evolution of war styles. The books first chapter is consecrate to World War I and is expressively entitled The Iron Dice, referring to the famous words spoken on August 1st by German premier Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg If the iron dice must roll, may divinity fudge help usIn general, because of the history taught in schools or because of popular history books, most people consider that the so-called fundamental causes of World War I are the deteriorating balance of indicator in Europe and the new competitive alliances, the arms race, Germanys militarism and her claims regarding a larger colonial empire etc. Loyal to his theory, Stoessinger ignores these causes and chooses to analyze the leaders actions in the wars eve. According to the author, all of the political leaders involved were aware of the wars inevitability and, in spite of this, they couldnt stop it.More than once, these leaders have denied their responsibility, placing it in the hands of God or destiny. But it wasnt God who could control the evolution of events and stop the war, was he? Dr. Stoessingers main theory is that the events werent, in fact, incontrollable and that it was the people who made the essential decisions. And these people werent some evil leaders with a thirst for blood and destruction (how the Kaiser is so often portrayed), just worried people stuck privileged their own illusions.Stoessinger believes that the crucial events that pushed the European countries to war were the following 1) The pledge that Germany made to Austria-Hungary regarding her policy towards Serbia 2) The ultimatum Vienna gave to Serbia and its rejection by the Serbs 3) The German efforts to mediate the confl ict and tame Austria 4) At last, the declaration of war made by Germany against Russia and the invasion of Luxembourg and Belgium. In the first section of his novel, The Iron Dice The causes of WW1, Stoessinger offer an alternative explanation of the causes of World War I, one that includes human reactions and feelings.He says The notion that WW1 is beyond mens control is wrong Mortals made these decisions. They made them in fear and in trembling but they made them nonetheless. In most cases, the decision makers were not evil people bent on destruction but were frightened and entrapped by self-delusion. They based their policies on fears, not facts, and were singularly devoid of empathy. Mis erudition, rather than conscious evil design, appears to have been the leading villain in the drama. Although Dr. Stoessingers essay is well thought out and well written, It is hard to agree to the thesis completely.It seems that all the European countries had good reasons for abstracted a war as well. Serbia was right in wanting to expand, Austria in wanting to survive. Germany was right in fearing isolation, Great Britain in fearing German power. All these countries needed to wage war since the balance of power was no longer balanced. All of these countries had good motives for a war, therefore, it is illogical to place the blame just upon the leaders of those countries, rather than analyzing the circumstances that made the countries want to wage war.As much as we would all equivalent things to be simple, they are not. Finding a couple of unfortunate leaders in power guilty seems to be the easiest solution. However, the truth is just not that simple. The truth is that everyone was to blame, the circumstances that created the need for war, the short war illusion that everyone entertained, and the governments who felt the need for a war. The responsibility of preventing World War One rests not solely upon the shoulders of a few selected individuals. However that is the theory maintained by Dr. Stoessinger throughout the book.The distinguishing feature of the text throughout the book remains the authors emphasis on the pivotal office staff of the personalities of leaders who take their nations or their following across the threshold into war. Most statesmen who made the crucial decisions behaved like fatalists. The terrible denouement was foreseen, but couldnt been prevented. Historians have been affect by this fatalistic attitude (events passing beyond mens control). Stoessingers view is that this is wrong mortals made decisions basing their policies on fear, not facts. Stoessinger views the World War I as preventable.The perception of statesmen and generals were absolutely crucial. Following dimensions of this phenomenon 1. A LEADERS PERCEPTION OF HIMSELF 2. HIS PERCEPTION OF HIS ADVERSARYS CHARACTER 3. HIS PERCEPTION OF HIS ADVERSARYS INTENTIONS 4. HIS PERCEPTIONS OF HIS ADVERSARYS POWER AND CAPABILITIES 5. HIS CAPACITY FOR EMPATHY WITH HIS AD VERSARY Most leaders proverb themselves as stronger than they really were and their adversaries as weaker than they really were. These misperceptions led directly to distorted perceptions of adversarial intentions which then precipitated vigorously into all out war.If the leaders of the various nations involved would have viewed humankind rather than their own distorted misperceptions, it may have been possible to avoid conflict on such a massive scale or even avoid war altogether. This seems to be a recurring theme throughout the book. One of the important theories attributed to Stoessinger is the theory of perceptions. Stoessinger believes that, in the eve of major conflicts, many of the political leaders involved have misjudged the situation and have thus led their countries to war.These false perceptions manifest on 4 levels firstly, a false perception regarding the leaders own person, of their role in the world and of their loyalty towards the possible outcome of the conflic t. The second level regards the opponent and often includes demonizing his image and the unfitness to objectively understand a situation. On the third level, we are dealing with the misperception of the opponents intentions and, on the fourth level, with misjudging the opponents abilities.Stoessinger has empha coatd the greatness of the political leaders personalities and the fundamental part they play in the evolution of international relations. The second chapter discusses Hitler and his invasion of Russia in 1941. Again, misperceptions played a key role in the events that unfolded. This time, more emphasis was put on the character of the aggressor and his adversary. Hitler essentially had a one track mind. He decided to attack and eat up the Russian people and paid no attention to the lessons learned by Napoleon when he had attempted to conquer Russia.Hitler was convinced that it would be a quick and easy achievement. Stalin, on the other hand, believed that since they had pre viously been allies, Hitler would not invade Russia. Stalin continuously ignored intelligence that came from British and American sources, including eighty-four warnings in the year introductory the attack, because he was suspicious of Anglo-American motives. He preferred to place his trust in Hitler, a fellow dictator. In the end, Hitler invaded Russia and had misjudged the Russian people.They were fighting for their very existence which is credibly the most powerful motivation ever. He had failed to plan for the Russian winter because he thought it would be a quick and easy victory, and ended up losing many men to cold and starvation, much as Napoleon had previously. Stalin had placed his trust in the wrong entity and was greatly disillusioned and was unprepared for the attack when it came. Again, the misperceptions of the leaders involved ended in a great loss of life. The third chapter deals with the Korean War and misperceptions of a different sort.In the later stages of the w ar, after the North Koreans were dictated back to the 38th parallel, General Douglas MacArthur went beyond the original scope of the police action by driving toward Chinese border along the Yalu River. This move make China and brought them into the conflict. MacArthur did not believe that the Chinese army would be strong and thought he could achieve an easy victory. He ignored intelligence that told him the size of the Chinese army and chose to believe that it was smaller than it really was.His hubris added two years to the war and cost 34,000 additional American lives. Had he chosen to listen to reality instead of his own misperceptions, many lives could have been saved. The Vietnam War was full of misperceptions as well. One of the biggest misperceptions would be the type of war being fought. The United States was fighting against communism, succession the Vietnamese were fighting against imperialism and colonialism and to protect their way of life. Had the United States never entered Vietnam, communism would have taken over earlier, and with fewer human lives wasted.In 1978, the Vietnamese communists invaded Cambodia to put a stop to the communist regime of Pol Pot and the killing fields. Had the United States been open-minded enough to see that there were distinctions between types of communists, perhaps we would never have participated in the conflict. Dr. Stoessinger continues through several other wars including Milosevics ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, the battles between India and Pakistan, the Arab-Israeli conflicts, Saddam Husseins wars in Iran and Kuwait and the current American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after the tragedy of 9/11.Dr. Stoessinger summarizes the book in the final chapter. Here he reiterates his thoughts that the case material reveals that perhaps the most important single precipitating factor in the outbreak of war is misperception. He also restates the dimensions of misperception and gives each one special attention. In rega rds to the view that there is a misperception in a leaders self-view, Stoessinger notes that there is remarkable consistency in the self-images of most national leaders on the brink of war.Each confidently expects victory after a brief and triumphant campaign. He also states that leaders on all sides typically harbor self-delusions on the eve of war. Stoessinger also discusses the idea that a leaders misperception of his adversarys power is perhaps the quintessential cause of war. It is vital to remember, however that it is not the actual distribution of power that precipitates a war it is the way in which a leader thinks that power is distributed.Dr. Stoessinger uses many primary sources for his information including newspapers, documents, reports, and first-hand accounts. He also uses many secondary sources including books by other authors well-versed in the conflicts being discussed. It is very apparent that a lot of thought and research has gone into the creation of this book. The index is very complete and the bibliographies at the end of each chapter make it easy to find more information on the conflict at hand.I believe that this book has a lot of historic worth since it pulls from so many valid sources. It presents straightforward and factual information with knowledgeable interpretations of the information. I believe that Dr. Stoessinger has successfully accomplished what he has set out to do. I would recommend the book to others if they are looking for interpretations of war and how they begin. The book was interesting, though it could be a little dry at times to someone who is not well-versed in modern and contemporary history.