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Revolution and War
     

Revolution and War

by Stephen M. Walt
 

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Revolution within a state almost invariably leads to intense security competition between states, and often to war. In Revolution and War, Stephen M. Walt explains why this is so, and suggests how the risk of conflicts brought on by domestic upheaval might be reduced in the future. In doing so, he explores one of the basic questions of international

Overview

Revolution within a state almost invariably leads to intense security competition between states, and often to war. In Revolution and War, Stephen M. Walt explains why this is so, and suggests how the risk of conflicts brought on by domestic upheaval might be reduced in the future. In doing so, he explores one of the basic questions of international relations: What are the connections between domestic politics and foreign policy?

Walt begins by exposing the flaws in existing theories about the relationship between revolution and war. Drawing on the theoretical literature about revolution and the realist perspective on international politics, he argues that revolutions cause wars by altering the balance of threats between a revolutionary state and its rivals. Each state sees the other as both a looming danger and a vulnerable adversary, making war seem both necessary and attractive.

Walt traces the dynamics of this argument through detailed studies of the French, Russian, and Iranian revolutions, and through briefer treatment of the American, Mexican, Turkish, and Chinese cases. He also considers the experience of the Soviet Union, whose revolutionary transformation led to conflict within the former Soviet empire but not with the outside world. An important refinement of realist approaches to international politics, this book unites the study of revolution with scholarship on the causes of war.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Academic tradition separates revolution and war. . . . Walt defies that tradition in his sober, well-reasoned new book. The result is a worthy exploration of these two most important, and most dangerous, political events—and particularly of how revolution can lead to war."—New Leader

"Walt finds balance-of-threat theory the most plausible explanation for the wars that follow . . . large-scale upheavals. . . . In his concluding policy recommendations, Walt argues that with revolution, neither appeasement nor intervention is appropriate for foreign leaders. Revolutions are practically impossible to export and very difficult to reverse. Optimism that liberal capitalism means an end to revolution is unwarranted, Walt observes, given religious fundamentalism, cultural diversity, and the emergence of protest movements. A detailed, valuable work."—Choice

"Walt has written a book to ponder, and to value. It enriches our understanding of the causes of war, and suggests how—in conditions still relevant to us—we might hope to avoid it."—Security Studies

"Stephen M. Walt has once again written a landmark work of social science. The war-prone nature of revolutionary states has been noted, but never adequately explained. It is not, says Walt, that such regimes want to export their revolution out of the barrel of a gun. Rather, they and their status quo neighbors get caught in a conflict spiral fueled by a paradoxical mix of insecurity and overconfidence. In unraveling the causes of this spiral, Walt uses the dramatic history of the French, Russian, and Iranian revolutions to reveal the subtle interplay of power, perceptions, and domestic politics that shapes international relations."—Jack Snyder, Columbia University

"Controversial and valuable because it so directly and clearly challenges major ideas in the dominant view of international relations."—Charles Tilly, New School for Social Research

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801470004
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
08/09/2013
Series:
Cornell Studies in Security Affairs
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
376
File size:
656 KB

Meet the Author

Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He is the author of The Origins of Alliances, Revolution and War (both from Cornell), and Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy.

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