Overview

"War . . . is merely an idea, an institution, like dueling or slavery, that has been grafted onto human existence. It is not a trick of fate, a thunderbolt from hell, a natural calamity, or a desperate plot contrivance dreamed up by some sadistic puppeteer on high. And it seems to me that the institution is in pronounced decline, abandoned as attitudes toward it have changed, roughly following the pattern by which the ancient and formidable institution of slavery became discredited and then mostly obsolete."-from...

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The Remnants of War

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Overview

"War . . . is merely an idea, an institution, like dueling or slavery, that has been grafted onto human existence. It is not a trick of fate, a thunderbolt from hell, a natural calamity, or a desperate plot contrivance dreamed up by some sadistic puppeteer on high. And it seems to me that the institution is in pronounced decline, abandoned as attitudes toward it have changed, roughly following the pattern by which the ancient and formidable institution of slavery became discredited and then mostly obsolete."-from the Introduction

War is one of the great themes of human history and now, John Mueller believes, it is clearly declining. Developed nations have generally abandoned it as a way for conducting their relations with other countries, and most current warfare (though not all) is opportunistic predation waged by packs-often remarkably small ones-of criminals and bullies. Thus, argues Mueller, war has been substantially reduced to its remnants-or dregs-and thugs are the residual combatants.

Mueller is sensitive to the policy implications of this view. When developed states commit disciplined troops to peacekeeping, the result is usually a rapid cessation of murderous disorder. The Remnants of War thus reinvigorates our sense of the moral responsibility bound up in peacekeeping. In Mueller's view, capable domestic policing and military forces can also be effective in reestablishing civic order, and the building of competent governments is key to eliminating most of what remains of warfare.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
War is hell regardless of how its cost is measured: in human lives, suffering, destruction, or financial cost. Mueller (Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Policy, Ohio State Univ.; Capitalism, Democracy, and Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery) argues that war is similar to slavery, as both an institution and a belief. As such, major war, like slavery, has been condemned by developed nations and certainly after the Cold War has been used rarely. Mueller contends that, as major war declines, we are left with primarily civil wars and terrorism waged by criminals and thugs. Well researched and well organized, with clear, original arguments supported by notes and bibliography, this thought-provoking piece will have tremendous policy implications as nations, especially the United States, structure their militaries to deal with these smaller policing actions. Highly recommended for academic and military libraries. Lt. Col. Charles M. Minyard (Ret.), U.S. Army, Blountstown, FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"Since around 1700, humanity has increasingly opposed violence of all kinds, Ohio State policy analyst Mueller argues. For him, war is an idea, like dueling or slavery, that over time became embedded in human behavior, and whose appeal and legitimacy are now in profound decline. Better quality of life, the expansion of democracy, the development of international norms and institutions, and increasingly destructive war-making technologies are major factors. Yet if war is declining, warfare persists in the form of domestic conflicts that Mueller regards as a consequence of inadequate governments. Mueller's solution proposes to improve states' policing efficiency and effectiveness, making them better able to deal with what he calls 'residual warfare' within their borders."—Publishers Weekly (July 2004)

"Mueller argues that war is similar to slavery, as both an institution and a belief. As such, major war, like slavery, has been condemned by developed nations and certainly after the Cold War has been used rarely. . . . Well researched and well organized, with clear, original arguments . . . , this thought-provoking piece will have tremendous policy implications as nations, especially the United States, structure their militaries to deal with these smaller policing actions."—Library Journal (August 2004)

"A brilliantly original and urgent book."—Gregg Easterbrook, The New Republic

"It is refreshing to read a book about war that is optimistic and hopeful. John Mueller's The Remnants of War is both of these things. His thesis is that the idea of war is going the same way as the idea of slavery—it is becoming obsolete. . . . He argues that there is evidence that good governance is spreading, and that policing wars are increasingly unattractive."—Claire Thomas, Journal of Peace Research (November 2005)

"Mueller's is a sweeping, multifaceted, and complex argument that speaks to multiple research programs in political science, generates several policy recommendations, and addresses central issues of our time. I found the parts on the decline of major war, in particular, to be absolutely fascinating, and the effort to conceptualize violent conflict on a continuum going from small crime to terrorism to be very stimulating. In short, this is a nice example of a rich and erudite book that speaks to a larger public without sacrificing scholarly thoroughness."—Stathis N. Kalyvas, Perspectives on Politics

"Mueller's book is smart and provocative, and it should inspire a wider examination of how warfare has changed, as a whole, over the last century."—Jeremy Suri, Political Science Quarterly (Summer 2005)

"In this book John Mueller charts the continuing decline of one of the oldest and most important of all human practices. The Remnants of War is a powerful and provocative account of the fate of war in our time."—Michael Mandelbaum, Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy, The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and author of The Ideas That Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy and Free Markets in the Twenty-First Century

"John Mueller has written another extremely stimulating and suitably cantankerous book."—Richard Rosecrance, University of California, Los Angeles

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801459573
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 1/14/2013
  • Series: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

John Mueller is Ralph D. Mershon Senior Research Scientist and Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies Emeritus at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at Ohio State University, where he is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Political Science. He is the author or editor of many books, including Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security; War and Ideas: Selected Essays; Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda; Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them; and Capitalism, Democracy, and Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : the decline of war, the persistence of warfare 1
1 Criminal and disciplined warfare 8
2 The control of war and the rise of war aversion 24
3 World War I as a watershed event 39
4 World War II as a reinforcing event 50
5 War and conflict during the Cold War 66
6 Civil War and terrorism after the Cold War 85
7 Ordering the new world 117
8 The prospects for policing wars 141
9 The decline of war : explanations and extrapolations 161
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