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War in History Author(s): Charles Tilly Reviewed work(s): Source: Sociological Forum, Vol. 7, No.

1, Special Issue: Needed Sociological Research on Issues of War and Peace (Mar., 1992), pp. 187-195 Published by: Springer Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/684359 . Accessed: 11/12/2012 18:44
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Sociological Forum, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1992

Review Essays

War in History1
Charles Tilly2

Sociologists, like other humans, would like at least their share of what Thorstein Veblen called "creditable notoriety." We might call it fame. More, preferably, than the 15 minutes of fame to which Andy Warhol claimed everyone was entitled. More than a place on the Op-Ed page, appearances on talk shows, medals, cash awards, positions on advisory boards: a broad recognition that they have a voice worth listening to. If sociologists want to be famous, influential, respected, perhaps even prosperous outside their own circles, they should take a vigilant view of the major changes that are affecting the presents and futures of their potential readers. Conclusion: now that the United States has found its true niche in the world economy as an exporter of popular culture, money, soy beans, and war, it is time that the sociologies of those four subjects take their rightful places in the sun. I joyfully cede to specialists in culture, economic processes, and agriculture the responsibility for setting the first three agendas. Let me make the case for a renewed, expanded sociology of war, one thoroughly grounded in history. My preferred sociology of war is indeed historicist: insisting that the social processes producing and stemming from war shift significantly from one historical era to the next, taking the description and explanation of that shift as a major analytic challenge, and therefore denying the possibility of deriving necessary and sufficient conditions for war from principles of conflict alone. In our own time, just such a shift gives us an additional reason for paying attention to war. Right now the international system is undergoing
'PERSONAL STATEMENT: Charles Tilly, who has tended Sociological Forum's review essays since the journal began, welcomes Gary Marx from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as co-editor beginning with this issue, and will yield full responsibility to Gary at the end of Volume 7. Tilly holds a nondepartmental appointment at the New School for Social Research. 2Center for Studies of Social Change, New School for Social Research, 64 University Place, New York, New York 10003-4520. 187
0884-8971/92/0300-0187$06.50/0 ? 1992 Plenum Publishing Corporation

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one of those deep mutations that not only alter politics in individual states, but change the character and incidence of war itself. Immanuel Wallerstein is surely right to argue two things: (1) that such apparently disparate events as the disintegration of the Soviet Empire, the rise of Japanese financial power, the Gulf War, the democratization of Latin American countries, and the formation of the European Community all connect in a common process: (2) that at the center of the process lies a decline in the American capacity to set the terms of survival for other states and economies (Wallerstein, 1991: 1-18). Unlike Wallerstein, who opts for 1917, I set the last major transition in the world system of states around 1945. At that point, settlement of a devastating war produced a startling bundle of changes. It
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created a bipolar world; initiated widespread decolonization; extended the map of nominally independent, sharply bounded, European-style states to almost the entire world; started a long period of armed truce rather than open war among great powers; shifted the weight of arms flows, war, and military rule to the non-Western world; produced a dramatic movement of armed conflict from international to civil wars (now often featuring the covert intervention of great powers, especially the United States and the Soviet Union); and greatly increased the prevalence of the coup d'tat as a means of political succession.

The supersession of that system, and the consequences of that supersession, should be calling forth some of sociology's best analyses. So far, only worldsystems analysts have shown much interest. The agenda for a historically grounded military sociology stands on five pillars that we might schematize as States Domestic Politics Relations Among States Military Organization Ambient Economy

By a broad definition, military sociology includes the study of military organization and its relations to states, domestic politics, ambient economies, and relations among states. It therefore complements separate analyses of states, domestic politics, relations among states, ambient economies, and connections among the four.

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In judging any proposed explanation of war and its variations, we must judge whether it provides an adequate account of each of the five clusters-which includes, of course, the possibility of arguing cogently for the high priority of one or the nullity of another. For reasons that are easy to understand and hard to condone, contemporary studies of war generally fail the five-point test. Their most glaring failure, in my biased view, is the absence of a sufficiently rich and realistic model of the interaction between state structure and military organization, an interaction strongly conditioned by the ambient economy. In scrutinizing recent writings on war, then, we should ask repeatedly how (if at all) they represent the relationships State 4 Ambient(Economy In general, military sociologists have spent much more effort on military organization than they have on its relation to states, domestic politics, ambient economies, or relations among states. That weighting burdens any explanation of war. A curious consequence has followed: military sociology's delegation, and relegation, of the study of war to other specialties. To what other literatures must we turn for a rounded picture of war? To political, military, and diplomatic history, to international relations, to a few studies of conflict in general, to a few more studies in political sociology, and to a growing body of work on world-systems. The worldsystems contribution comes as a refreshing surprise. Take, for example, the recent collection edited by Robert Schaeffer, a product of the American Sociological Association's Section on Political Economy of the World System (Schaeffer, 1989). The book takes the odd form of a string containing three knots. The string consists of studies seeking connection between the incidence of wars and fluctuations of the world economic system by Terry Boswell, Mike Sweat, and John Brueggemann; by Byron Davis, Edward Kick, and David Kiefer; by Christopher Chase-Dunn and Kenneth O'Reilly; and by Raimo Vayrynen. The very different knots consist of Edgar Kiser's propositional principal-agent analysis of the initiation of war by Absolutist states, Gregory McLauchlan's reflections on how nuclear weapons encouraged the formation of National Security States, and Robert Schaeffer's review of the politics of partition in heterogeneous states. Studies on the string treat a state's participation in war as a function of interests strongly defined by its position in the world economy; hence an acute interest in economic cycles. The knots alter causal priorities-in
t Military Organization

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Kiser's case by stressing the differential power and differential interest of major actors with respect to war, in McLauchlan's and Schaeffer's cases by imputing great causal significance to essentially political innovations. The next great synthesis in this corner of the literature will have to take account of such outstanding works as Rasler and Thompson's detailed quantitative studies of the impact of war and preparation for war on state structure in the West since about 1100 AD (Rasler and Thompson, 1989). Those studies reverse the causality to show how the particular forms and outcomes of war affect subsequent political and economic history. In world-system circles, many people would like to establish a recurring relationship between long economic cycles and surges of war. In the Schaeffer volume all but one of the "string" articles comments on Joshua Goldstein's codification of long-wave analyses, which generally places major clusters of war in a world economy's expansive phase (Goldstein, 1988). Boswell, Sweat, and Brueggemann, for example, follow up Goldstein by estimating a series of regression equations that predict the intensity of war between 1496 and 1967; they conclude that war did indeed concentrate in periods of expansion, and that the phase of Dutch, British, or American hegemony did not account for the effect. That much has a rather timeless, transhistoricaltone. In conducting their transhistoricalinvestigation however, the three authors emit a historicist note; they question whether the period before 1640 belongs in the same analysis, on the ground that the transition to capitalism was just occurring, that "neither the integration of the world market [nor] the international capitalist division of labor is solidified until near the end of the period" (16). Thus they silently inject a crucial historicist principle: that not only the intensity and locus but the very conditions of war change significantly from one historical era to the next. David Kaiser utters the historicist principle viva voce, indeed creates a whole book around it. Kaiser's Politics and War (1990) argues that in Europe international and domestic politics changed so much among the periods 1559-1659, 1661-1713, 1792-1815, and 1914-1945 that substantially different circumstances led to war during each of the periods. Sadly, Kaiser makes no effort to relate his periods to swings in the European economy-three out of his four periods begin in stagnation followed by rapid expansion, while the fourth is too short for the question to be relevant-and rejects without further examination the idea that the presence, absence, rise, or fall of a single dominant power governs the likelihood and locus of war. Thus he misses the opportunity to engage current theories of international relations and of the world economy. He compensates, however, by providing rich portrayals of state policy and its limits during each of his four periods. In the Schaeffer collection, as in so much sociology of war and so much world-system analysis, states are ciphers, mere trans-

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mission points for economic interests and fluctuations. In Kaiser, states teem with politicians and ruling classes, if not with ordinary people. Kaiser comes away from his exploration of European history with a grudging admiration for realists such as Louis XIV, who knew what they could and could not accomplish in war. Statesmen of 1559-1659 and 19141945, in his view, constantly overreached themselves, benefitting largely autonomous aristocracies in the first case and ruining their economies in the second. During the middle periods, according to Kaiser, militarizing states fought to enhance first dynastic, then national prestige, and in the process at least succeeded in strengthening their states. He stresses, however, a more general conclusion: both the ends, means, and outcomes of war depended intimately on the era's domestic and international politics; the history of war depends on the history of states and state systems. "The history of these four periods of general European conflict," concludes Kaiser,
in which governments undertook and continued wars for political purposes, confirms Clausewitz's view of war as the continuation of politics by other means. Clausewitz's famous dictum, however, carries with a further implication which history does not support: that war has consistently enabled governments to realize their politicial goals. (Kaiser 1990:415).

Louis XIV and Napoleon could realize their goals, up to a point, because they were supreme realists within different systems of reality. Philip II and Hitler could not, because they bore different sorts of blindness. The historian begins to speak as philosopher. Too bad that Kaiser did not spend a little more time trying to speak like a social scientist. A pity he did not deliberately address the impact of the ambient economy on relations between military organization and state structure. He intuits but fails to articulate a fundamental principle: the source of military means shapes the state and constrains its war making. Here is a case in point: Kaiser provides a lucid account of Gustavus Adolphus' inability to leave a war in which Sweden was taking a terrible beating in the 1630s because he needed conquests to pay off the generals and colonels who had raised troops for his service, who would never do so again-indeed, might well rebel-if he left them without compensation. He at least hints at the profound effect Sweden's enormous imperial effort had on its subsequent governmental organization and policy; to some extent, we owe today's pacific social democracy to yesterday's rapacious military state. But Kaiser never points out how the shifts from (1) noble-supplied semiprivate armies paid from booty to (2) largely foreign mercenaries organized by military entrepreneurs and paid by taxes squeezed from the noncombatant population to (3) mass volunteer and conscript armies drawn from the national population and financed by stupendous borrowing followed by heavy taxation altered the bases of war as well as the postwar

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commitments that emerged from it. Those shifts played a major part in defining the differences among Kaiser's periods, not to mention in determining what sorts of "realism" were possible. Just such considerations inform Tools of War, a collection edited by military historian John Lynn (1990), whose earlier studies of French revolutionary armies remain models for historically informed military sociology. Military historians have many strengths, and three weaknesses: for idealized strategy, for inflated great men, and for hypostatized technology. In recent years, technological determinism has held sway in much of military history as some authors conclude that the introduction of nuclear weapons entirely changed warfare after 1945, and others that new weapons produced a similar military revolution in the 16th century. Lynn and his colleagues, in contrast, argue for the priority of changes in "instruments, ideas, and institutions." Lynn himself treats both the long-term pattern of growth in European armies and the origins of the attack by French revolutionary armies, while Simon Adams, William Maltby, Richard Hellie, Bruce Lenman, Don Higginbotham, Dennis Showalter, and Hew Strachan range over the 16th-century Military Revolution, naval tactics, and the military histories of Russia, India, Colonial America, Prussia, and Great Britain. "Instruments," in their analyses, include fortifications and logistics; to that extent they, too, assign importance to technology. But in the history they are examining, a deeply political process, the creation of professional armies, loomed even larger. As if in answer to David Kaiser, Michael Howard comments in his afterword:
It was the inability of the great princes of the Renaissance, Charles V, Francis I, and Philip II, to maintain paid and disciplined armies continuously in the field that explains the spasmodic and inconclusive nature of their wars. For this a regular supply of wealth, usually based on taxes levied on a thriving trade, was necessary to pay not only the armies but the officials who administered them. (Lynn, 1990:239)

The capacity and impulse to create such armies varied as a function of domestic politics and the ambient economy. For European states differed enormously in the extent to which their territories hosted "a thriving trade" and/or ruling classes who could and would tolerate the imposition of heavy taxes on land or trade. There, military organization, state structure, and ambient economy jostled each other incessantly. In any case, Martin van Creveld tells us, political and technical conditions have recently changed so greatly that any strategic conclusions we draw from earlier experiences have become obsolete. In a forcefully argued and War(1989), and especially The Transformation brace of books, Technology of War (1991), van Creveld minifies technology and buries Clausewitz. In Technology and War, he puts technology in its place, as an important but not dominant element in the forms of war. There, covering the entire

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history of civilized human warfare (if you will allow the oxymoron), he attributes great importance to changes in social structure and political ambition. In both books, he elucidates the ironic effects of nuclear technology: enormous impact on strategic theory (especially by civilians such as Henry Kissinger), some effects on military doctrine and arguments for military budgets, possible deterrence of direct attacks by one great power on another, little or no immediate influence on the most common forms of war. In Transfonnation, van Creveld actually does not so much bury as mummify Clausewitz, saying that there was once a day when war extended state politics into mayhem, but the day is past. Although he cannot resist long fascinating asides on such subjects as why and how men exclude women from combat, van Creveld organizes his book as an extended critique and circumscription of Clausewitz, whom he portrays as having captured some features of war in his own time, but as having been captured in turn by features of politics and war that were, in fact, quite transitory. Clausewitz saw three actors in war: states who directed wars, armies who executed them, and peoples who supported them financially and supplied young men but otherwise stayed out of the action as much as possible. For Clausewitz and his contemporaries, proper wars pitted states against states; international law even smiled on the massacre of civilian groups who dared to take up arms. Precisely the point: van Creveld centers his claim for the end of Clausewitzian war on the prevalence since 1945 of lowintensity conflict (LIC), with its location in poor countries, its involvement of civilians and irregular armed forces, its defiance of previously established international practice on such matters as prisoners of war, attacks on civilians, truces, or hostage taking, and its employment of low-technology weapons (for convenient documentation, see Tillema, 1991). In one of the ironies he so enjoys, van Creveld even offers this provocative idea: the victorious allies of World War II encouraged the later proliferation of LIC by declaring Japanese and German occupations of countries such as China and France so monstrous that they justified, or even required, civilian uprisings (van Creveld, 1991:58). The vast majority of recent wars have pitted religiously, regionally, and/or ethnically defined nonstate groups against each other or against established states, often with the covert intervention of one or more great powers. Since 1945:
From South Africa to Laos, all over the Third World, LIC has been perhaps the dominant instrument for bringing about political change. Without a single conventional war being waged, colonial empires that between them used to control approximately one half of the globe, were sent down to defeat through LIC's known as "wars of national liberation." In the process, some of the strongest military

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194 powers on earth have suffered humiliation, helping put an end to the entire notion of the white man's inherent superiority. (van Creveld, 1991:22).

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It follows, pace Clausewitz, that "much present-day military power is simply irrelevant as an instrument for extending or defending political interests over most of the globe; by this criterion, indeed, it scarcely amounts to 'military power' at all" (van Creveld, 1991:27). Despite appearances to the contrary, the tragicomic Gulf War illustrates van Creveld's argument very well, but by negation. It demonstrated on world television the futility of the high military technologies in the hands of both sides: Iraq could not defend itself effectively, but in the end the United States and its allies could do little more than sweep Saddam Hussein's forces out of smoking Kuwait back into their battered fortress. Iraq resembles Vietnam more than George Bush allows. Since van Creveld finished The Transformationof War in April 1990, not only Iraq but also Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and Yugoslavia, among many other parts of the world, have confirmed the altered character of war. He points out an implication of this change that has generally escaped professional observers: despite the enormous armaments of today's states, they are steadily losing their monopolies over armed violence. After centuries during which Western states poured much of their energy into disarming their citizens, and succeeded spectacularly, well-armed groups of citizens are forming all over the world, even within Western states such as the Soviet Union. "In the future," he even dares to predict, "war will not be waged by armies but by groups whom we today call terrorists, guerrillas, bandits, and robbers, but who will undoubtedly hit on more formal titles to describe themselves" (van Creveld, 1991:197). Is that true? It does seem likely that declared wars among great powers will decline in prominence and that nonstate forces will play even larger parts in future wars than during the last few centuries. On the other hand I expect more, not less, fighting from forces that claim to be national armies of states other states have simply not yet recognized, whether their names are Croatia, Armenia, Eritrea, Kurdistan, or Tamil Nadu. I expect great powers and their vendors of arms to intervene in Third World conflicts to a much larger degree than van Creveld allows. With the Soviet-American conflict diminishing, I expect a far more dramatic shift in the geography of war than van Creveld leads us to anticipate. In fact, van Creveld ignores the impact of current changes in the international state system (as distinguished from changes that are affecting many individual states) on the character and incidence of war-a rare blind spot in a clairvoyant analysis. If military sociologists have much to learn from van Creveld, not least an urgent checklist of neglected questions to address, van Creveld could gain from considering more seriously the sorts of problems world-system analysts

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have recently been contemplating. All will gain from placing present changes in clear historical perspective. "To understand the future," muses van Creveld, "study the past" (van Creveld, 1991:192). Amen.

REFERENCES3
Babington, Anthony 1990 Military Intervention in Britain: From the Gordon Riots to the Gibraltar Incident. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Bienen, Henry, S. 1989 Armed Forces, Conflict, and Change in Africa. Boulder, CO: Westview. Ciofri-Revilla, Claudio 1990 The Scientific Measurement of International Conflict. Handbook of Datasets on Crises and Wars, 1495-1988 A.D., Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. Gillis, John R., ed. 1989 The Militarization of the Western World. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Goldstein, Joshua 1968 Long Cycles: Prosperity and War in the Modern Age. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Goodman, Louis W., Johanna Mendelsohn, and Juan Rial, eds. 1990 The Military and Democracy: Lexington, MA: Lexington Books. Hoisti, Kalevi J. 1991 Peace and War: Armed Conflicts and Order 1648-1989. International Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress. Kaiser, David 1990 Politics and War: European Conflict from Philip II to Hitler. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Lynn, John, ed. 1990 Tools of War. Instruments, Ideas, and Institutions of Warfare, 1445-1871. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Rasler, Karen A. and William R. Thompson 1990 War and State Making: The Shaping of the Global Powers. Boston: Unwin Hyman. Rock, Stephen R. 1989 Why Peace Breaks Out: Great Power Rapprochement in Historical Perspective. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Schaeffer, Robert K., ed. 1989 War in the World-System. Westport, CT: Greenwood. van Creveld, Martin 1989 Technology and War From 2000 B.C. to the Present. New York: Free Press. 1991 The Transformation of War. New York: Free Press. Tetlock, Philip E., et al., eds. 1989-1991 Behavior, Society, and Nuclear War. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tillema, Herbert K. 1991 International Armed Conflict since 1945: A Bibliographic Handbook of Wars and Military Interventions. Boulder, CO: Westview. Tilly, Charles 1990 Coercion, Capital, and European States. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Wallerstein, Immanuel 1991 Geopolitics and Geoculture: Essays on the Changing World System. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; and Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme.

3In addition to items cited in the essay, I have packed in some useful recent syntheses, reviews

of literature, and technical guides. For bibliography prior to 1989, see Tilly Coercion, Capital, and European States (1990).

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