After disposing, somewhat too neatly, of most of the historically popular ""explanations"" of what makes war break out, This may not sound very startling, but Blainey presses onward for more ""clues"" and comes up with some disconcerting evidence. The first dogma to be jettisoned is the notion that ""a balance of power"" is the best guarantee for international amity. On the contrary, says Blainey, the empirical record shows that ""a clear preponderance of power"" is more likely to inhibit conflagrations. Versailles notwithstanding, decisive wars and tough postbellum settlements hold up longer -- though probably no longer than one generation. Furthermore and here Blainey scores methodologically , analysts of international relations have mistakenly focused their attention on the ""origins"" and the commencement of conflict; they ought to pay more attention, he says, to the end of wars -- ""the only points in time when the distribution of power can be measured with some objectivity.

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Start your review of The Causes of War Write a review Jun 06, Roger rated it really liked it Recommends it for: military history buffs In this book, Geoffrey Blainey conducts a remarkably thorough investigation into the specific causes of war and offers several interesting conclusions.

Blainey complains that different schools of academia often investigate the causes of war with a specific angle or hypothesis in mind and that due to this subjective viewpoint, frequently find conclusions that agree exactly with their predictions. In order to fully comprehend the causes of war, Blainey states, one must also examine the causes of In this book, Geoffrey Blainey conducts a remarkably thorough investigation into the specific causes of war and offers several interesting conclusions.

In order to fully comprehend the causes of war, Blainey states, one must also examine the causes of peace. War and peace are not two separate phenomenon, but rather two parts of an ongoing cycle. Blainey calls up the work of many previous military analysts including Clausewitz, Macfie, and Henry Thomas Buckle. He puts their findings and theories to the test by analyzing all major international wars since , picking out historical examples, and searching for trends and patterns.

Each chapter examines a specific theory, such as the idea that capitalism and economic ties between countries decrease the likelihood of war. He also looks at the theory of scapegoat wars, war as an accident, "surprise" attacks that allegedly begin wars, and more. In other words, a decision to go to war only occurs when the decision makers believe that there is more to be gained from war than from peace. As Blainey says "War itself then provides the stinging ice of reality. At the end of a war those rival expectations, initially so far apart, are so close to one another that terms of peace can be agreed upon.

At the end of the book, Blainey offers a list of conclusions, which nicely summarize his findings. Some of the more interesting among these are: "The idea that one nation can be blamed for causing a war is as erroneous as the idea that one nation can be mainly praised for causing the end of the war. Most current explanations of war, however, rest on these errors. Until the function of warfare is appreciated, the search for a more humane and more efficient way of measuring power is likely to be haphazard.

What is often unintended is the length and bloodiness of the war. Defeat too is unintended.


The Causes of War

He breaks down a number of factors which not only create wars, but also create peace as well. Personally, I think that the measures he identifies as causes are more accurately described as enablers or perhaps deterrents for both war and peace. Blainey correctly states that wars and peace are causally linked. His view is couched in realpolitik. To this end, he sees morality, especially on the international stage, as a nonentity.



Blainey was born in Melbourne and raised in a succession of Victorian country towns before attending Wesley College and the University of Melbourne. After graduating, Blainey took a freelance writing assignment and travelled to the Mount Lyell mining field in Tasmania to research and write the history of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company , at Queenstown. In the s, many older residents could remember the beginnings of the community. The resultant book, The Peaks of Lyell , achieved six editions. His works have ranged from sports and local histories to interpreting the motives behind the British settlement of Australia in The Tyranny of Distance ; covering over two centuries of human conflict in The Causes of War ; examining the optimism and pessimism in Western society since in The Great See-Saw; Aboriginal Australia in Triumph of the Nomads and A Land Half Won ; and his exploration of the history of Christianity in A Short History of Christianity He has also written general histories of the world and the "tempestuous" 20th century. Throughout the course of his career, Blainey has also written for newspapers and television.

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