War Is Over?

The 21st century could represent the end of war as we know it, writes political scientist John Mueller in a new paper for Political Science Quarterly. He notes that there have been no wars between developed nations since 1945, and that other international wars that fit the classic definition — the violent resolution of a dispute between two or more nations — have become exceedingly rare. The number of open armed conflicts around the world, on average, has been declining for years. So, too, have the number of combat deaths and war refugees around the world. Is war becoming obsolete? The Monkey Cage has more on Mueller’s paper, which isn’t yet freely available online. [%comments]


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  1. David says:

    For years political scientists have been saying this. I have heard the general concept called the “democratic peace” theory. But, it all comes down to what you define as a democracy, or in this case, developed.

    Regardless of how you define it, there are still armies, still war, and still death. But get out your party hats everyone, we ended war!

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  2. crxs says:

    “He notes that there have been no wars between developed nations since 1945″

    Then he either defines “war” or “developed nations” too narrow to make sense. After 1945, by my count, we have at least the following wars between developed nations:

    India vs Pakistan 1965; Israel vs. Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq 1967; Israel vs. Egypt, Syria, Iraq 1974; Turkey vs Greece 1974; Iran vs Iraq 1980; Argentina vs United Kingdom 1982; United States et al vs Iraq 1991; NATO vs Yugoslavia 1998; United States et al vs Iraq 2003.

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  3. paulwesterberg says:

    War is over, If you want it.

    We visited paris last fall and their veterans hospital, Hotel national des Invalides which only has a handful of WWII vets still living there.

    I look forward to the day when our veterans hospitals are no longer needed and can be turned into museums.

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  4. frankenduf says:

    the number of “combat” deaths has declined?- does this include civilian deaths?- can’t make that claim viz. vietnam- noone counted!- i would say historically, nobody counts the civilian deaths for the losing side, unless there’s unusual press coverage- e.g. how many civilians died in east timor or in central/south america during the military excursions there?- better to say that the use of violence in foreign policy is declining, thanks to popular resistance against it- again, vietnam was started in secret, protests helped end the war, and now, there was protesting even before the iraq invasion- so there is no longer any defacto justification for the use of violence in foreign affairs

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  5. Craig says:

    He must have an interesting definition of “war” (or maybe “developed nation”) if he can’t find a war since 1945…

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  6. Jeffrey says:

    To go along with comment #1, I find it hard to believe that the “democratic peace” supporters are really naive enough to agree with the end-result of their own theory.

    They tout the fact that no two democracies have ever fought a war. Do they really think that all wars would end if every country was a democracy? If so, would they support the US cutting the military by half to three-quarters? Surely one-quarter of our current military could handle a non-war skirmish here or there.

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  7. AC says:

    This sounds remarkably like the thesis that “economists and central bankers are now sophisticated that there will be no more great depressions.”

    The moral of history: human behavior never changes.

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  8. Rob says:

    Is this yet another social scientist seeing an up- or down-turn in a cycle as a permanent up- or downward trend?

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