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Can War be Eliminated?

Christopher Coker

ISBN: 978-0-745-67922-8 March 2014 Polity 120 Pages


Throughout history, war seems to have had an iron grip on humanity. In this short book, internationally renowned philosopher of war, Christopher Coker, challenges the view that war is an idea that we can cash in for an even better one - peace. War, he argues, is central to the human condition; it is part of the evolutionary inheritance which has allowed us to survive and thrive. New technologies and new geopolitical battles may transform the face and purpose of war in the 21st century, but our capacity for war remains undiminished. The inconvenient truth is that we will not see the end of war until it exhausts its own evolutionary possibilities.

Prologue x

1 Evolution 1

2 Culture 17

3 Technology 34

4 Geopolitics 53

5 Peace 74

6 Humanity 90

Further Reading 109

Notes 114

"This brilliant work cannot fail to stimulate debate and advance understanding. It is gloriously replete with arguments from and about philosophy, biology, sociology and the course of our all too human history. The reasons for the grim longevity of war have rarely been more cogently explained or better illustrated by telling anecdote."
Colin Gray, director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at the University of Reading

"A wide-ranging meditation on the embeddedness of war- in our cultures, our minds and our expectations - and its evolution by one of the subject's most erudite, informed and reflective scholars."
Philip Bobbitt, author of The Shield of Achilles

"Christopher Coker's new book is a masterpiece of erudite concision in which I learned something new on every page. He is not only Britain's leading philosopher of warfare, but a prolific historian who puts the competition to shame."
Michael Burleigh, author of Small Wars, Faraway Places: Global Insurrection and The Making of the Modern World

"From pre-modern city-state to post-modern cyberspace, Christopher Coker reminds us that war is a natural part of our human condition. Both idealists and realists will benefit from reading this small gem of a book from an outstanding scholar of the role of war in the history of ideas."
Michael Evans, General Sir Francis Hassett Chair of Military Studies, Australian Defence College

"With searingly elegant prose, Professor Coker brings a vast array of ideas and events to bear on one of the most pressing issues of this or any other time.  A must-read book."
Steven Metz, Director of Research, U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute

"This book will be of great value to those interested and engaged in the current philosophical, psychological, sociological and political debates regarding the nature, purpose and future prospects of war."
Political Studies Review