POLI 142K Lecture Notes - Lecture 18: Collective Action, Planetside

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8 Sep 2015
Poli Sci 142K:
Politics and Warfare
Spring 2015
Components of a General Theory of War
Week 5, Wednesday, April 29
Components of a General Theory of War
A. Hypothesis I: In Systemic Anarchy, the single most robust predictor of state behavior is the balance
of power
1. Alliance formation
2. Defense Spending
3. The effects of Balance Instability (like rising and declining states)
B. Hypothesis II: objective and contingent conflict shapes incentives for decision-makers
1. Hegemonic threat
2. Middle East
C. Hypothesis III: International institutions reduce the probability of war, but cannot override national
1. crisis behavior
2. enforceability and international institutions
a. The United Nations
D. Hypothesis IV: The continuing primacy of state interests
1. Trade and conflict
2. Alliance survival (alliances are contingent)
E. Hypothesis V: Domestic commitment and war
Illustration: The Limits of Information-based Explanations of War: 1914 Short War
A. Misperception: politicians and military planners misperceive the logic of industrial war—assume
war (major power war) can be short, but this is a false belief.
B. However, note constraints on war plans (strategic constraints)
C. First constraint: maximum mobilization, but minimum mobility (maximum given resources,
domestic politics, 2,000,000 soldier army; minimum mobility from railroads to food and animal
D. Second constraint: paradox of offensive necessity, extreme defensive advantage (owing to new
E. Explanation of Offensive Necessity
1. Domestic opinion
2. Morale (compliance) of reservists
3. Gaining the initiative (or losing it)
4. Economic strain
F. Given these strategic constraints, war plans were arguably rational, not a function of misperception.
1. First preference strategy
a. decisive battle (gable)
2. Second preference strategy
a. rational attrition
b. acceptable casualty levels (not 1000s, but 10,000s or more)
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