War as the result of Human Nature

War as the result of Human Nature:
States that war is the outcome of the very nature of human beings.
Supported by Confucius to present day behavioral scientists.
Implication: to prevent war one must change human nature!
Optimists: human nature can be modified to make war less likely
Pessimists: Human nature cannot be changed and war is inevitable.
Things that could be done to Change Human Nature: Offer alternatives to war i.e.:
demanding physical activities.
Education: humans to be educated with a love of peace and hatred of war (there are
human societies where war is unknown). Cultural exchanges (better understanding
between peoples).
Screen Potential leaders: ensure that they are not predisposed towards violence.
Criticisms: Human nature is infinitely variable…far too general for any practical use.
If war is caused by human nature then so is peace.
War as the Result of the Internal Structure of States: Argues that wars are caused
by ‘bad states´ i.e.: an unpopular government engages in a war against another
state in an attempt to promote internal unity. What is a ‘bad state´? In recent past
bad = autocratic. More difficult to define what constitutes a ‘good state’. Marxists
define it in economic terms. Good state is one in which there is a fair distribution of
wealth. USA and allies define it in political terms based on multi-party democracy;
sovereignty of people … Fundamentalists Islam defines it in terms of states which
base itself upon the word of God. Therefore, this theory has not much practical value
when attempting to eliminate war.
War as the result of the Structure of the State System: Argues that war is the result
of the nature of relations between states, i.e.: Gov. of a state will represent its own
interests and in the event of a serious clash in interests there will be war.
Groupings of states in an attempt to promote the wellbeing of all / establishment of
an alliance which would deter attack on an individual state / disarmament programs
(i.e.: NATO, Non-Proliferation treaty). Transfer of authority from national Gov. to
regional or global organizations (i.e.: EC, UN). World Government!
Criticisms: Alliances in the past arguably have been as much responsible for the
outbreak of war as they have been useful in preventing it. It does not address the
most common form of warfare since 1945: civil war.
The Origins of the First World War
1. German Responsibility:
Fischer’s View: (German Historian)
Germany is responsible for the war because of its aggressive pursuit of its
weltpolitik. Germany willed the war in order to realize expansionist ambitions and to
resole an acute domestic crisis. Fear of ‘encirclement´ after the Triple Entente and
Russian army reforms meant that ‘a moment so favorable from a military point of
view might never occur again´. Germany put pressure on Austria-Hungary to
retaliate against Serbia (even if it meant General war) ß ‘blank cheque´
Criticism of Fischer: German policy before 1914 seems contradictory and lacking in
clear aims. No evidence that German leader help expansionist aims before the
‘September Programme´ (which Fischer uses to explain the German desire for war)
Places too much importance on the domestic crisis in the decision to launch a war in
1914 Bulow and Hollweg dismissed war as a solution to the socialist problem.
More Correct View: Distinguish between Germany’s contribution to the growth in
international tensions from 1900-13 with her role during the July crisis itself. All
Governments were responsible for tension until 1914 but not equally responsible for
the fatal turn of events — for which Germany was culpable.
2. The Responsibility of Other Powers:
Contributed to the conflict in the Balkans by lengthy delays in responding to
Sarajevo. (i.e.: the ultimatum to Serbia was not delivered until almost a month after
Sarajevo.). Declaration of war on Serbia came only 5 days after ultimatum. Refused
to halt military operations (as Kaiser suggested) even though talks with Russia were
scheduled for July 30.
Clear that Russia was the expansionist force in the Balkans. Unable (unwilling?) to
restrain/control Slav nationalism even though it was a force endangering peace and
stability in Europe. Balkan Wars might have been a ‘war by proxy´ for Russia.
Promise of support to Serbia (influenced decision to reject the ultimatum)
France: (not a crucial role)
Promised French support to Russia (but this was more the work of French
ambassador in Russia rather then official policy from Paris). Hopes of recovering
Alsace-Lorraine was worth fighting for but not sufficient for wanting war.
Britain: (not a crucial role)
Underestimated gravity of crisis in late July. Maybe a clearer statement of British
intent to support France would have restrained Berlin. Naval talks with Russia
convinced the German Chancellor that the ‘ring of encirclement´ was complete.
The Balkans; Tension between Russia and Austria-Hungary. (A-H´s prestige
depended on its influence in the Balkans). Pan-Slavism / nationalism Do NOT in
themselves explain how an Austro-Serb dispute escalated into a general European
Alliances, International Anarchy, and
Armaments: The system of alliances helps explain why so many powers
became involved in the war of 1914.
After her isolation at the Algeciras conference, Germany realized that A-H was
virtually her only ally and the alliance w/ A-H took on a new importance. (blankcheque of 1914 transformed a defensive alliance into an offensive one). Similarly
France gave a ‘blank cheque´ (1912) to Russia turning a defensive alliance into an
offensive one. The importance of the alliance systems was not its existence but
rather that their defensive nature had been altered.
Alliance system reduced flexibility of responses in the event of a crisis (i.e.: German
response to Franco-Russian alliance was the Schlieffen Plan, therefore the answer to
a Russian threat was to invade France!)
However in some respects the alliance system was in some disarray in early 1914
(i.e.: Britain disenchanted w/ agreement w/ Russia over Persia // Britain still did not
support France by July 1914). Yet the system of alliances had been successful before
at preventing conflicts and maintaining an aspect of a balance of power. Why did war
break out in 1914? One answer is that Germany was intent on war in 1914 (and thus
rejected most proposals for mediation in 1914). Germany could not tolerate a
diplomatic defeat for her ally.
The Arms Race can be both a cause and an effect of international tension.
Determination of Germany to become a naval power threatened Britain.
Russian army reforms (due to be completed by 1917) led to a point of view of the
German high command that a preventive war against Russia in 1914 made sense.
Maybe the arms race contributed to the feeling that war could not be postponed
indefinitely. Gov. in the leading states had warlike attitudes (i.e.: in Germany the
General Staff had enormous influence.). However there was a current of antimilitarism in both France and Germany (i.e.: in the socialist movements)
…Capitalism, Imperialism and Nationalism
Arguments For:
Simple belief those industrialists had an interest in provoking war; Capitalist
economic pressures were the driving force behind imperialist rivalries. Anglo German
Trade Rivalry
Arguments Against:
Armaments manufacturers had markets overseas which might be lost in wartime.
Financiers needed stability. Anglo-German commercial links were growing closed
from 1904-1914.
Lenin said that the war was an ‘imperialist war´ b/c it sought a re-division of colonial
territories. Germany had a prime interest in acquiring the colonies of other states.
German Weltpolitik was a challenge to British/French Empires. Yet, agreements were
being made on colonial issues prior to the war.
Psychological consequences of a generation of imperialism: Exacerbating mutual
suspicion and hostility (contributed to the mood of 1914)
Contributed to ‘nationalist revival´
There are four central factors:
Legacy of Weltpolitik: failed by 1914 / harmed Germany’s relations with other powers /
meager achievements contrasted with its high expectations / increased German feeling of
Growth of Russian power: economic expansion, pop. Growth, army reforms, and
strategic railways (close to German borders) alarmed Germany.
Disruptive effect of nationalism: threatened A-H in terms of her ability to act as a great
power & disintegration.
Inadequacy of Germany policy during the July crisis: failure to devise diplomatic
alternatives in case the Triple Entente held and France and Britain supported Russia.
Four subsidiary factors:
The decline of the ‘Concert of Europe´: statesmen unwilling to behave with restraint
for the sake of ‘Europe´ as a whole.
The Arms Race: increased expectations of war / led Germany to believe she had a
better chance of winning in 1914 rather then later.
The legacy of imperial rivalries: increased animosities among the great powers
(affecting public opinion, press, and Gov.)
The influence of domestic tensions: encouraged ruling circles to consider war as a
relief from such tensions.
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