Halle, Louis J.
October 1973
Foreign Affairs;Oct73, Vol. 52 Issue 1, p20
This article addresses the questions raised about the future of war as the twentieth century approaches its last quarter. War is merely the most extreme among the several means by which conflict among organized societies has traditionally been conducted. A government, in choosing the means it will use in any particular situation, has to weigh both political feasibility and political cost. The development of the instruments of war beyond the point where they have any political utility or feasibility in active use must certainly be regarded as a permanent factor tending to deprive the resort to general war of its former legitimacy. In 1912 the U.S. found it politically feasible and rewarding to establish the kind of domestic order it wished in Nicaragua by sending the Marines to impose it, and there was no military resistance. A form of political inequality that had been universal up to the French Revolution was the distinction, in its various forms, between a ruling class and the rule. By resorting to war, therefore, or persisting in it, any country tends to lose the power to continue to direct its own course of action. It finds itself having to submit to the exigencies of greater powers or of the international community at large. The sudden development of a power vacuum then, leading to international anarchy, appears to constitute the greatest danger of another world war in the foreseeable future.


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