The Causes of War
December 2008, Polity
The characteristics of individual states, the strategic
interaction of multiple states, and the broad structure of the
international system all affect the risk of war. Throughout the
book Sobek draws on a wide range of examples – from the rise
of Japan in the 19th century to the emergence of Hamas in the 21st
century – to show how both domestic and international
politics push states to, or pull them from, the brink of armed
conflict. While civil war and terrorism are often viewed as a from
of violence distinct from interstate war, Sobek examines them as
simply an extreme form of asymmetric warfare. From this perspective
terrorism emerges as just another tactic used by actors engaged in
The Causes of War will be essential reading for students of security and strategic studies as well as anyone seeking to understand the rise of violent conflict in the contemporary world.
Section I: The Behavior of States.
Chapter 1: The Power of States.
Chapter 2: Liberal Pacifism.
Section II: The Interaction of States.
Chapter 3: The Balance of Power.
Chapter 4: The Democratic Peace.
Chapter 5: Trade and Peace.
Section III: The International System.
Chapter 6: The Systemic Distribution of Power.
Chapter 7: The Rise and Fall of States.
Section IV: Changes and Conclusion.
Chapter 8: Conflict with Non-State Actors.
Chapter 9: Conclusion.
- An accessible and engaging introduction to the complex and
multi-faceted causes of war
- Argues that there is no single explanation for war: factors
leading to war in one case may well lead to peace in another
- Draws on a wide range of examples – from the rise of
Japan in the 19th century to the emergence of Hamas in the 21st
- Essential reading for students of security and strategic studies as well as anyone seeking to understand the rise of violent conflict in the contemporary world
material and case studies. The book commends itself to the attention of researchers, advanced undergraduates and postgraduates in the field of international relations theory, security studies and peace and conflict studies."
"A fine overview of the major factors influencing decisions for
interstate war – power, democratic peace, and trade –
across different levels of analysis. The inclusion of frequent case
applications and a discussion of civil war are bonuses."
Paul F. Diehl, University of Illinois