I do not know if it is authors or the reviewer, but it seems like either or both really don't understand this topic well.

The Kellogg-Briand Pacts outlawed offensive war. They didn't outlaw war. The Pacts came about because Briand wanted an alliance with America and the US was opposed to alliances. Kellogg offered this instead.

The Pacts were highly opposed by the US Senate,

who thought it would interfere with American actions in the Americas under the Monroe Doctrine. Kellogg then assigned Undersecretary Clark to write a memo.

The Clark Memorandum detailed every use of force by America since the founding and framed them almost all as defensive. The Memorandum made it clear that the US could still go to war, as long as it alleged it was defending something. The Senate then supported the Pacts.

And that has been the story ever since. We moved from Just Cause to defense. Russia justified its invasion of Ukraine as a defensive measure to protect Russian speaking people in the Donbas.

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The historian Bret Devereaux argues that when most wealth was agricultural, a successful war paid for itself. As countries advanced to industrial and post-industrial economies, the destruction inherent in war meant that it no longer was profitable even for the victors. The norms against war followed this change.

You can read his essay at https://acoup.blog/2021/08/20/collections-teaching-paradox-victoria-ii-part-ii-the-ruin-of-war/

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

> Even more confusing to our modern expectations, before the Peace Pact there was no such thing as helping your friends while staying neutral.

Not sure if this is an issue added in the review, or if it's from the book itself; but this is *very* straightforwardly untrue. The passage quoted states that:

> Any unequal support provided by the United States to France would have been a casus belli, an act of belligerency warranting a military response.

This is *not* a statement that unequal support automatically used to imply immediate war; it is instead a claim that the grounds for what constituted a casus belli used to be lower. Countries could and did offer support to allies without fully entering a war; the reason the US did not do so in this case was not (only) a legalistic prohibition, it was that Britain would be likely to declare war in response, and the US was not in a position to bear that risk. See in particular Hamilton's analysis of the situation in Pacificus 3: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-15-02-0055

You can easily find historical examples of neutral parties providing unequal support; the closely-related example would be the support France supplied to the US in the Revolutionary War before it formally entered the war. This didn't lead to a war, not only because of legal reasons, but because Britain didn't want to expand the war- it didn't make military sense. That's the same reason Russia hasn't declared war on the US today. In cases where expanding the war may make military sense, that is still sometimes done- e.g. the US in Laos. Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor was (arguably?) the result of US sanctions.


> 5. Any increase in peace since World War II is due to democracies, nuclear weapons, or other reasons, and not the Peace Pact.

This both seems like the most important point, and don't seem to be justified at all?

On the related question of why territorial conquest declined, the other possibility besides norm changes is that territorial conquest has become either more difficult (it's plausible that insurgencies or guerilla warfare have become more common or more effective), or less useful (because the land itself is increasingly not what is valuable.)

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"One school of thought is that Putin will consider himself entitled to keep any gains won on the battlefield, or at least any that it would make sense to keep. Whereas Ukraine most definitely can’t agree to that any time soon. It also is highly contrary to the kind of history that Putin used to justify his invasion. You very much do not get to keep whatever you happen to occupy when there is a formal peace settlement, that has never been how this works. For a guy who lectures us for hours about events from Europa Universalis this would be a very poor understanding of war score and formal borders."

I'm going to be attacked for saying this; but if the above is a valid point, then when does NATO give back Kosovo to Serbia? Or Turkey give back northern Cyprus to the Republic of Cyprus? If you argue there are valid reasons for not doing so, like Serbia treating Albanian Kosovars badly, then surely that also applies to ethnic Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians who have been treated worse by the puppet regime in Kiev over the past eight years. Then there's the Moroccan occupation of most of the Saharan Arab Republic and the Chinese occupation of Tibet; the governments-in-exile have not surrendered themselves to the occupiers.

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

I just don't get the argument against nuclear deterrence being the main factor in the "new world order". Quoting from the relevant section,

> After 1948, the chance an average state would suffer a conquest fell from once in a lifetime to once or twice a millennium. (Chapter 13)

I mean, that's about the time nuclear weapons become a thing. It's absurd.

The previous example in the text about Russia/Ukraine, if anything, highlights it. Both the NATO and Russian sides have been pretty vocal about how absolutely evil the other is, and how basically anything is justified to subdue the enemy (including crippling sanctions that disproportionately hurt the Russian civil population, but also how the Russian foreign intelligence constantly tries to undermine and meddle with Western democracies in what would have totally been a casus belli a century ago) (*). All while flexing the muscles of their nuclear capabilities in some or another way. Which doesn't look like an innocent unrelated behaviour to me. ("I just really love displaying my ICBMs!")

(*) edit: not that this draws any moral equivalence between them, or even less justifies the initial agression. Just that the (current) lack of escalation to direct conflict is a result of deterrence.

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My favorite one-liner from this review:

> Culture changes slowly, and then quickly, and then often forgets that it has changed.

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When writing a book review I think it's advisable not to write a book, even a small one. A book review should be a review not a summary, not a lesson, not a screed, not a Cliff notes version, not a history lesson, except to the degree that it helps me understand the subject matter of what it is a person is reviewing. Reading this review made me not want to read the review or the book.

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I actually liked this review but I had some questions. I thought that several aspects of WWI - trench warfare, mustard gas, the very high death toll - traumatized not only the troops but also the combatant nations to the point that war was seen as a new worse thing. And that thing should be prevented. I did not see anything about this at all in the review which makes me think it was not in the book. Which seems odd.

And then the new revulsion against war caused a massive cultural rift through Europe in all the arts, humanities, and philosophy.

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This had some of the most interesting ideas of the reviews so far, but it really struggled with organization. A solid editor would have done wonders for him.

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> Many people in both countries viewed the other as a sister nation, the only other Republic in the world.

Were there not Italian urban republics then?

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Franz Ferdinand was not assassinated in a foreign country (like Diana in France), but in a province of his own.

It was normal for a country defeated in a war to loses territory and pay concessions, but multiple imperial dynasties during WW1 ceased to exist. The political instability following the decline of royalist legitimism meant that subsequent governments could rise up without any respect for the treaties in territory had previously been lost. And the losers of WW2 still lost territory (why is Kaliningrad part of Russia again?). In the comments of this blog I have mentioned how countries like Israel, India & Indonesia (all starting with "I" for some reason) are all counter-examples to the claim that countries didn't acquire territory by force after WW2.

War in Europe was not quite that normal prior to WW1. Rather the Congress of Vienna had managed to prevent similarly huge fights from breaking out again after the end of the Napoleonic wars. There is a reason WW1 was regarded as something of an aberration rather than the same-old-same-old at the time (even in the form of people perversely excited for a big war after all that peace). I'm not claiming here that war was unheard of or hard to imagine, but the outbreak of war was a breakdown in a system intended to preserve peace. The rise of nationalism as a basis for governmental legitimacy erodes the ability of a government to hang onto conquered territory even without any such pact (unless there's ethnic cleansing, as happened with the Volkdeutsch after WW2). Nationalism plays a role in David Friedman's paper A Theory of the Size and Shape of Nations* and along with industrialism contributes to Steve Sailer's "dirty theory" of war being less profitable than it used to be**.

* http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Academic/Size_of_Nations/Size_of_Nations.html

** https://reason.com/2006/09/01/i-need-dirt-and-i-dont-care/

There is an alternate view of European history in "Vampire of the Continent" that perfidious Albion eternally tries to prevent unity in continental Europe and attacks the nearest rival, going from Spain to France to newly-united Germany. It's WW1 German propaganda, but Anglo-Americans like myself & many blog readers could benefit from the contrary perspective. Note that after the second war with united Germany (after which it was divided in two and military occupied) the big geopolitical conflict moved east again, this time with the USSR as the evil empire and the US (allied with the UK) as the dominant western power not actually located on the continent. We did not immediately go to war again with the USSR, fitting Peter Turchin's cycle of giant wars making the generation that experienced them reluctant for more. By the time of the next generation, the USSR also had nukes and open war between the two blocs would have been much more dangerous. If you've read Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature" you'll now that the world got significantly more peaceful after the demise of the USSR (as it had after WW2), and it wasn't because Kellog-Briand 2.0 declared war extra-super-illegal.

Sergey Brin is not analogous to John Milton. He is not a popular author (at least in natural rather than computer language). And Milton was known for his political writings, like Areopagitica. If you'd read Unqualified Reservations you'd probably be citing Dante's defense of the HRE instead.

The USSR didn't take territory merely because Stalin was a bad guy. It was the USSR that drove out the Germans, not some French resistance fighters (who needed the US to invade). The US was the dominant power on the other side and located an ocean away without interest in grabbing European territory.

Grotius also thought that civilians should be distinguished from soldiers. The idea that a power should intervene to protect foreign civilians was the justification Hitler used regarding the Volkdeutsch and Putin is using now for ethnic Russians. The US uses it when we feel like it because we can. The authors of the Geneva Convention are his heirs, not his opposites.

I agree that Islamists like Qutb reject the Western order, but this is not an order that only goes back to the World Wars but instead further to the Peace of Westphalia.

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I find myself utterly unconvinced by this review that Kellogg-Briand or any such ideas or pacts actually changed the reality of war. My belief going into the essay is that any change in the frequency or severity of warfare in the last hundred years is almost entirely due to the Cold War and the shrinking of the globe. After WWII, you can’t just invade your neighbor without it becoming a proxy war between the USA and the USSR. Win or lose, you’ll probably be less independent than before. And if you are aligned with one of the great superpowers, why start a war within your alliance? That, and not any pact of peace, seems like the obvious reason the oft-warring nations of Western Europe haven’t started any new conflicts lately. And of course, you don’t want to go to war with the other side because of the threat of nuclear MAD. So the only actors left with the effective freedom to wage war are the superpowers, who may do so as long as they don’t come to open war with each other. Now, this seems to me to be a model entirely in line with observation. Neither the US nor Russia has shown any hesitancy to wage war constantly over the last century. It’s not that anyone cares about peace, it’s that most nations are too weak to wage war.

The strongest point in the essay is that wars no longer are for conquest—borders don’t change as much. Here I’ll concede that the modern zeitgeist of the Peace Pact clade is to install a friendly government rather than outright absorb; but even this in many cases is largely because the territory is sufficiently distant geographically, ethnically, or culturally. Easier to rule the conquered with one of their own people who does as you say than with your own countryman, who is easier to hate. Perhaps even this new behavior is simply an evolutionary adaptation rather than an idealistic advancement.

And when Russians see war on Ukraine as unjust, I see that not as the spirit of the Peace Pact but as a victory for US propaganda and culture, disseminated through Hollywood and HTTP. When the US invades a country, no one says it’s unjust like that, because US propaganda doesn’t tel them so.

Perhaps I get too much of my political thought from the Machiavellian direction, but that’s how it all seems to me.

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

Was there really a time when countries could just keep whatever they conquered? Sure, but you'd have to go far further back than 1928.

The Peace Pact wasn't a one-off. It was just the third step in a trilogy of European peace agreements, and the first agreement was two centuries earlier.

Starting from the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, conquerors were expected to facilitate other great powers getting "compensation" elsewhere on the map. Not everybody played along, but most did, and the kings who didn't had to survive nasty coalitions against them.

After the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, "compensations" were no longer enough: conquests could only be kept if they fit a stable balance of European power. Germany occupied half of France in 1871, but gave back all except Alsace-Lorraine. Russia took the Ottoman Balkans up to the gates of Constantinople only to disgorge much of that right back again, to avoid war with the other great powers.

So the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact of 1928 wasn't a unique event; the pacification of Europe by the later 1900s wasn't unprecedented. European leaders had been working to limit the profits of European war since at least two centuries earlier.

Of course the declining economic use of war was probably even more important, as democracy and industrialization advanced. And you could argue that even Utrecht's norm had its own precedent in Westphalia 1648. And to be fair, neither Utrecht nor Vienna declared their new norms with the bold language of 1928 - I'm pointing out the change in accepted practice, more than any official signed code of conduct.

But the Peace Pact was a climax event, not a unique event. While the Renaissance kings got pretty high-handed in taking whatever they could, you can see real limitations to war for conquest accruing no later than the 1700s.

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> Commodore Perry arrived in Japan in 1853 ... and twenty years later, in 1875, Japan conquered Korea

Minor issue, but this isn't true. Japan did not secure Korea until 1905 with the end of the Russo-Japanese War.

I believe the point being made in the book was that in 1875, Japan performed its own version of gunboat diplomacy against South Korea, which resulted in an unequal 1876 treaty that mirrored the ones Western powers like the United States had with Japan, establishing trade ports and extraterritoriality.

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

Reads like someone who knows nothing about the subject but decided to start learning about it with this book instead of any kind of proper history book or broad survey. Sounds like a bad book about a dumb subject.

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And yet, even the era around WWI was peaceful compared to the previous millennia. It’s important for me to maintain that perspective.

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

ctrl+f nuclear finds

> Any increase in peace since World War II is due to democracies, nuclear weapons, or other reasons, and not the Peace Pact.

which was supposed to be discussed then is flatly ignored.

This is completely missing one of main reasons! War, especially between great nuclear powers, simply is not really beneficial anymore. Nearly nothing is worth nuclear war and definitely not war of conquest.

Even Ukraine-Russia war started because Russia expected Ukraine to collapse quickly. With knowledge how it will go Putin would not start that mess (or at least do it drastically differently).

Claiming that some irrelevant pact caused massive changes in how humans act is silly. That pact was part of recognition that war has become beneficial to nearly noone.

Trying to dismiss nuclear weapons while ascribing any importance to a forgotten piece of paper is simply wrong.

To quote ACOUP:

> As Gat notes, the industrial revolution changed this, breaking the agricultural energy economy. Suddenly it was possible, with steam power and machines, to use other kinds of energy (initially, burning coal) to do work (more than just heating things) – for the first time, societies could radically increase the amount of energy they could dispose of without expanding. Consequently – as we’ve seen – returns to infrastructure and other capital development suddenly became much higher. At the same time, these new industrial technologies made warfare much more destructive precisely because the societies doing the warfare now had at their disposal far larger amounts of energy. Industrial processes not only made explosives possible, they also enabled such explosives to be produced in tremendous quantities, creating massive, hyper-destructive armies. Those armies were so destructive, they tended to destroy the sort of now-very-valuable mechanical infrastructure of these new industrial economies; they made the land they acquired less valuable by acquiring it. So even as what we might term ‘returns to capital’ were going wildly up, the costs of war were also increasing, which mean that ‘returns to warfare’ were going down for the first time in history.


> In pre-industrial societies, returns to capital investment were very low. They could – and did – build roads and infrastructure, irrigation systems and the like, but the production multiplier for such investments was fairly low. For antiquity, the Roman Empire probably represents close to the best that could be achieved with such capital investments and one estimate, by Richard Saller, puts the total gains per capita at perhaps 25% over three centuries (a very rough estimate, but focus on the implied scale here; the real number could be 15% or 30%, but it absolutely isn’t 1000% or 100% or even probably 50%).

> But returns to violent land acquisition were very, very high. In those same three centuries, the Romans probably increased the productive capacity of their empire by conquest 1,200% (note that’s a comma, not a dot!), going from an Italian empire of perhaps 5,000,000 to a Mediterranean empire in excess of 60,000,000 (and because productivity per capita was so relatively insensitive to infrastructure investments, we can on some level extrapolate production straight out of population here in a way that we couldn’t discussing the modern world). Consequently, the ‘returns to warfare’ – if you won – were much higher than returns to peace. The largest and most prosperous states tended to become the largest and most prosperous states through lots of warfare and they tended to stay that way through even more of it.

https://acoup.blog/2021/08/20/collections-teaching-paradox-victoria-ii-part-ii-the-ruin-of-war/ (start from "…Beneath the Crosses, Row on Row…" - entire article is interesting but with kind of specific framing)


I probably should not even read the third review, seems to be an utter waste of time given contents of #7 and #8. No idea what went wrong with review selection, but something went horrifically wrong.

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022


Maybe next time run some prediction market on "book review X will be widely considered as terrible/plagiarism?"?

Or select things differently? Both this and previous review are horrific waste of time. Something went badly here with review selection for public presentation.

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I agree with the general scepticism about the book's thesis, and with the fact that the reviewer never does get around to discussing the role of deterrence. Possibly this reflects the book!

I do think that there has been a real cultural shift with real world implications for policy etc and that this shift is _not_ shared by the whole world, perhaps not even a majority.

What I thought this book needed to make a more credible argument was a discussion as to the changing modes of conquest. Most obviously economic and political conquest: if a country joins the EU then in a pretty substantive way, from the perspective of a Grotius, and even of anyone alive in 1900, they have been conquered. If America changes one's government and the new government trades with America, then perhaps one has not been conquered, but America, and perhaps even oneself (and other countries!) have certainly gained something of material benefit.

And this at, as Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate, at far lower cost than actual conquest. Which returns us again to the point about deterrence: modern weaponry also introduces a much greater deterrent potential for civilian populations.

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One thing that a lot of people don't get about Putin is that he does not feel bound by these implicit rules, or by any formalistic rules at all.

I have heard well-read people say things like "a no-fly zone would mean that NATO airplanes shoot Russian ones, and that would mean that Russia declares was on NATO". I don't want to downplay the danger of escalation, but there is a wrong assumption here: that Putin has a legible set of formal rules "if NATO does X, then this gives him a formal reason to declare war". But he doesn't play by these rules. He will declare war on another country if it is favorable to him, and not do that otherwise. Not if any legalistic rule is satisfied.

He does know that the OTHER side thinks differently. That is why he keeps spamming the press with logical implications like "if XYZ then I will declare war on NATO/Poland/Lithuania/...". These statements make sense in the logic of NATO states, and he has enough experience to know that they help preventing the West from doing XYZ. But this is not the way he acts. If he thinks that it is in his favor to attack Estonia and that he will get away with it, he will do it. Otherwise not. It doesn't matter whether Estonia follows the logical rules that he sets out.

In fact, he has pretty carefully tested out for a decade which things are tolerated by other nations, and which are not. His action have become more ruthless (but carefully and always step-by-step) because he has not experienced severe pushback even when he crossed lines that were declared sacred. Like annexing crimea, using barely concealed propaganda and misinformation in other countries, or also when Assad used chemical weapons in Syria.

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

Interesting review, but I'd like to post on 19th century antecedents to this idea, which suggest that the K-B pact wasn't as radical a break as suggested in the book review.

1) The decline in intra-European warfare occurs immediately after Napoleon's defeat in 1815, not later in the century. See this figure for the frequency of inter-state war in Europe over time:


The main exceptions to this century of European peace before WW1 were two types of wars that we'd call borderline acceptable today - wars of national unification/independence in Italy and Germany.

2) One of the foundations of the regime that established peace in Europe was the "Holy Alliance" -- a contract between 3 of the 5 great powers signed in 1815, that was potentially open for the UK and France as well to join as well. The text of the Holy Alliance has the following sentiments, that directly anticipate the KB pact:

"THEIR Majesties the Emperor of Austria, the King of Prussia, and the Emperor of Russia... solemnly declare... to take for their sole guide the precepts of that Holy Religion, namely, the precepts of Justice, Christian Charity, and Peace, which, far from being applicable only to private concerns, must have an immediate influence on the councils of Princes, and guide all their steps, as being the only means of consolidating human institutions and remedying their imperfections... Conformably to the words of the Holy Scriptures, which command all men to consider each other as brethren, the Three contracting Monarchs will remain united by the bonds of a true and indissoluble fraternity, and considering each other as fellow countrymen, they will, on all occasions and in all places, lend each other aid and assistance; and, regarding themselves towards their subjects and armies as fathers of families, they will lead them, in the same spirit of fraternity..."


More deeply K-B seems to build on the idea of a Pax Christianity under just international guardianship -- an idea promoted by both Popes and Holy Roman Emperors at various times.

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

As an aside, I am under the impression that the framing "Germany was the villain in WWI" is mostly an anglosaxon thing. In italy (and I think most of europe?) we definitely don't reframe it as a morality play and it seems to me that this is just another instance of american exceptionalism, where america must be the good guy.

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

I enjoyed this review, and learned new things about the Peace Pact (I did not know that they tried to include enforcement mechanisms) and its afterlife, and I want to separate the enjoyable review from the pretty egregiously lack of objectivity in the book.

This book under review has the sense of stubbornly trying to be a "great person" book in a context where the explanation of "it's a convergence of many complicated phenomena" is literally staring you in the face. It's almost admirable to have the chutzpah to try to monocausally explain a large, complex sociopolitical change in diplomacy and cultural attitudes by this one idealistic conference in the 20's. And even for a popular history book, its historical accuracy seems particularly bad.

At the same time the question posed is interesting, and it's nice to poke holes in the various standard explanations for the decline of war in the 20th Century. In particular it's really good to point out that the explanation of nuclear deterrence is very incomplete, and that attitudes towards war were (at least among the educated elite) converging towards the modern ones significantly before nuclear weapons. I would love to see a more historically literate and less monocausal attempt at doing this, and I would be particularly interested in a "Respectability Cascade" point of view, because I think that the idea that war is illegal would fit well into this framework (with the Kellogg-Briand pact being a step in this cascade).

If I were to venture a guess right now as to the main factors behind the rise of pacifism, I would guess that they would include the following.

*World War I itself. Nothing like an atrocious war to show that war is atrocious (this is probably the big one).

*economic globalization, through both the growth of international markets and a gradual rollback of protectionism.

*new, faster, and more global forms of media, and especially the rising popularity of the telegraph (compare to how tv visibility made the public horrified about Vietnam)

*Interestingly (and I'm surprised the book doesn't bring this up, given the name), Marxism, Communism and relatives.

The last one needs a little explanation. From what I understand Marx (as well as early Anarchists) thought that in a benevolent and well-organized society (essentially "True Communism") war is redundant, since without oppression and class rivalry everyone will just embrace brotherly love. In part because of this, Marxism was always very international and pacifist (their big conferences were literally called "Internationals"). There was even a movement to encourage conscientious objection to conscription in WWI (*massively* counter to the mainstream and even elite attitudes of Europe of the time, which was an honor/nationalism culture). In part because of this (and in part because of a secret deal with the Kaiser), Lenin noped out of WWI when the revolution gathered steam -- again, this unpatriotic move was massively unpopular among the educated elite of the time and cost Lenin many potential allies.

Fast forward 20-30 years and Marxism/Communism and even Leninism are becoming the leading currents in the Western academic and intellectual vanguard. Suddenly there's an explosion of explicitly international movements: anti-colonialism, feminism, and later, the anti-nuclear movement, (and even Esperanto!) all try to cut through national and class boundaries, and all are deeply influenced by Marxism in one way or another. I suspect that pacifism also fits in this category (though I should point out that it also has an independent history, and its links with Communism might be largely incidental).

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I definitely liked this review. It was a bit too long, and judging from the other comments, perhaps left out some nuances/context, but it definitely also presented interesting explanations of things that I’ve always been confused about (I never really did get why WW1 happened).

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> Even more confusing to our modern expectations, before the Peace Pact there was no such thing as helping your friends while staying neutral.

I think something's been missed here. That is not confusing to modern expectations; it's fully in line with them. That's why there's so much commentary about how stupid it is to consider the US "neutral" in a war where it directly provides Ukraine's weapons, equipment, and targeting coordinates.

What's confusing to modern expectations is the idea that now there is such a thing as helping your friends while staying neutral.

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Disclaimer: I am at most an amateur historian.

I think that the weakest part of this review is the Old World Order. The description seems to be primarily based on a single author, Hugo Grotius, who wrote in 1625. This is claimed to represent the "biblical model of war", which presumably was predominant in most of Christian history until 1928. I have not read Grotius and cannot say whether his work is typical for his time period. Looking at the Wikipedia page, the book seems to be most famous for the phrase "even when God were assumed not to exist", which would make this a weird choice for a book that's meant to represent biblical warfare.

While I can't comment on Grotius, I will say that the Early Modern Period (1500s-1700s) is the period of European history with the weakest norms against war since the Migration Period. Other people here have described the norms after this period, especially from the Congress of Vienna. I will focus on the norms before this period. There were major pacifist movements during the High Middle Ages: the Peace and Truce of God. I describe this as a contest between the pacifist Church and military aristocracy for simplicity. Real history is more complicated: while these movements were often led by members of the clergy with broad popular support, there were plenty of militarist bishops and pacifist aristocrats.

The Peace of God originally granted protection from violence to the clergy & religious property. It then expanded to peasants, women & children, and merchants & their goods. While there are some precedents in Ireland as early as 700, the movement really got going shortly before 1000 in what is now western France. The Peace of God is recognizable as the ancestor of modern norms against killing non-combatants.

The Truce of God was the belief that fighting shouldn't occur on holy days. This belief is common in many ancient societies: there are plenty of instances in Classical literature of battles being delayed to not offend a god on her day. What is unusual is how the Church used this Truce. They massively increased the number of holy days, including entire seasons (from the beginning of Lent until after Pentecost and all of December). In its strongest form, the Truce of God only allowed 80 days a year for fighting. If the military aristocrats didn't keep track of all of them, it allowed a priest to object to a battle whenever he wanted.

These movements were not very well enforced and you can find plenty of historical examples of people violating them, although the same could be said of modern war crimes. Importantly, since these were based on religion, they only really applied to Christians fighting against other Christians. Extreme violence could still used against non-Christians: in the Crusades, the Cathar heresy, and the Reconquista.

During the Early Modern Period, these norms fell apart for multiple reasons: (1) As armies became increasingly centralized and professional / mercenary, using ideals of personal honor became harder to enforce norms, especially when the soliders weren't paid on time. (2) Colonialism meant that there were a lot of conflicts with non-Christians, where the norms did not apply. (3) The Reformation shattered the religious unity of Western Europe. The key event that showed that the norms were dead was the Sack of Rome of 1527 by the mutinying army of the Holy Roman Empire. Afterwards, warfare in Europe became a lot more destructive.

After the Early Modern Period, anti-war activists had a lot of work to do to recover and improve on the medieval norms. They could no longer use a unifying religion to support their efforts. Instead, liberalism and state sovereignty became the principles to resist war.

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I am unconvinced. We have a very good explanation for why WWI style wars don’t happen again, which is that the war was orders of magnitude more destructive than any of its participants expected it to be, which drastically changed the calculus about whether or not going to war would be a successful foreign policy strategy.

The reason the authors needed to discuss the Islamic world is because if you don’t accept some fundamental difference, the American attack on Afghanistan looks a lot like the start of WWI in terms of casus belli. A terrorist movement conducted an attack on the soil of a major state while being not-so-secretly supported by the government of a smaller state for ideological reasons. The larger state demands that the smaller one effectively cede its sovereignty or go to war.

The difference is that we go to war in different ways, not that we go to war over different things. And that can be explained pretty convincingly by technology.

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This review seems to gloss over a lot of history. There are lots of good reasons to believe this obscure treaty is an effect and not a cause. The nature of war had been changing because of a number of factors. That changed how states engaged in armed conflict.

1. When monarchies that feared to arm their own populace went to war, they often fielded smaller armies. This shifted dramatically with the French and American republics. Napoleon seemed impossible to defeat by successive coalitions formed to fight against him and restore the monarchy to the throne. He armed his populace and threw men into the meat grinder of war. Yes he had tactics, but he also had a large enough force to fight with that he could employ those tactics. The American Civil War was a precursor to WWI, showing people how bloody a conflict could be when your recruiting base expanded due to democratic rule. This lesson had failed to be fully understood by the time WWI came around, but there was a sense that war is costly.

2. The review seems to think war before the PP was a different kind of idea than after, but attitudes had already been changing. The feeling in Europe prior to WWI was that a general European war was impossible. People were too interdependent to do something as stupid as start a war. It was economic suicide! They were past those kinds of idiotic pursuits in modern Europe. This is partly how the war took many in Europe by surprise, despite many indications that a European war was inevitable.

3. The Germans didn't like the pre-WWI arrangement for economic reasons. They'd missed out on colonialism (as the review correctly points out), but they had also recently lost a naval arms race with the British. This led the British into the war, believing that they would likely have to face off with the Germans at some point. Better while they were still the weaker party.

4. Except why go to war against the Germans, when (at that time) they were such an obvious natural ally? Because the Germans started the war by marching through neutral territory with the intent of menacing the populations to lie down and take it. The German (and French, and British) attitude toward war was that it was a great way to distinguish yourself on the glorious field of battle. The German army wanted to be feared, but this backfired because journalism (another unforeseen development) had progressed to the point where this could be used against them. Instead of frightening the neutral countries they were trying to march through on their way to France, it brought the British into the war on the opposing side - the opposite of the feeling many in pre-war Britain would have espoused. (German conduct in this part of the war also helped solidify the image of the invading "Hun", and the "Germans are evil" ideas.)

5. This "war is glorious" feeling died in the trenches of WWI. The subsequent PP was more of an expression of an already-changing global sentiment than a force causing that change. This was solidified in the interwar period with the Spanish Civil War.

6. The rise in air warfare, specifically in bombing, can't be ignored as a major factor changing the nature of war. HG Wells hypothesized that a city could be taken under siege by dirigibles stealthily flying over a city and threatening to bomb it into submission. By WWI, this technology wasn't possible, but it stayed in the imagination of war planners through the Spanish Civil War (cf Guernica) and into WWII. It required a rebalancing of tactics away from strategic bombing - a goal that was espoused at the time, even if 'precision' bombing wasn't possible, especially at night - toward total warfare and bombing of cities. Notably, this idea that it was okay to indiscriminately bomb civilian targets WASN'T the norm before the war. Hitler was outraged when the British first did it to him, and he responded by refocusing the Luftwaffe from the (more effective) military targets toward civilian targets.

7. This led to development of firebombing and nuclear bombs. These were extensions of the shift (back) toward total war, but especially in the case of nuclear bombs it changed the nature of conflict between great powers. As others in this post have pointed out, this wasn't addressed to any satisfaction in the review.

I feel like I could go on for a long time. So many factors contributed to the changing nature of war, and to how people and nations responded to those changes. From the new political invention of sovereignty by the people, to advances in weaponry that changed the nature of conflict and removed the personal bravery aspect, to advances in journalism and photography that allowed the public to see the horrors of war first-hand, to inventions of air bombing, to nuclear weapons. All of these changes, and more, changed the nature of warfare over the course of both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The failure of nations to understand the rapidly changing nature of war was evident in the blunders on both sides of each of these conflicts. THAT is a history worth reading and trying to understand in depth. The review (and/or the book it's based on) appears to either be ignorant of most of that history, or dismissive of all the causes in favor of a pet theory that this one treaty was more than an expression of public feelings developed through sad experience.

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

Tying into whether there's less war post-pact, and in my view undermining the book's whole thesis, is a general understanding of what wars were being fought and why:

Pre-1648: Religious Wars between Catholics and Protestants, up until 1648 when a general consensus agrees that religion is an internal matter for individual monarchs to decide on in their own realms; also the tail-end of wars to stop Ottoman expansion in Europe (these go on until Karlowitz in 1699, but aren't central to the European understanding of war).

1648-1789: Princely territorial wars. These are the classic wars that Vattel is talking about. "States" are the territory controlled by a given monarch, they can fight wars on little to no pretext ("I begin by taking, then I find scholars to demonstrate my right"). At the end of the war, everyone keeps whatever they're currently occupying, unless the peace treaty says otherwise (uti posidestis). In practice, people start wars when they think they can gain more than they'll lose, but making concessions to avoid war isn't really something that occurs to people so war is a necessary condition for territory to change hands, rather than a fail-state caused by imperfect information.

1789-1815: French revolution and Napoleon. This is a weird hybrid of the previous and subsequent versions of war.

1815-1914: Nationalism and colonialism: European countries basically stop going to war over territory in the old-fashioned sense. There's some pointless mucking around in the Crimea, but other than that the only real wars are post 1860, with Prussia trying to take German territory, Piedmont trying to take Italian territory, and nationalist revolts in the Ottoman Empire that suck other countries in. Crucially, no-one tries to take any territory that isn't inhabited by their countrymen; the old pre-1789 idea of just taking whatever territory you can get away with, regardless of who lives there, is dead. There are also colonial wars, which is why you'll see a lot of territorial expansion happening on paper, but these don't really count because the people doing the conquering don't think the countries being conquered really count. Part of the reason this breaks down is the Ottomans existing in this weird superposition of European/colonial. The Mexican-American war is also a colonial war - the US takes all the broadly empty bits of Mexico, but not the bits that are full of Mexicans.

1914-1918: WWI. The real causes of WWI are a bunch of unsettled issues within the paradigm of nationalism, most importantly Alsace-Lorraine making a Franco-German war unavoidable, and Britain wanting to prevent the German hegemony in Europe that would result from them winning. France ends the war by taking a largely German-speaking chunk of land on the basis that it last owned 50 years ago. France and Britain take all Germany's colonies. The result is that the Entente (soon to be the Allies) don't want anything that any other countries still have, other than Italy wanting Dalmatia (I'm ignoring the Saarland, because I think it's demonstrative that the norm had been established that non-nationalistic conquest wasn't ok).

1918-1939: New post-WWI borders cause even more people to be in the "wrong" country for their nationality - hence Germany, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria want war to change borders, but Britain and France think war to change borders is bad. Kellogg-Briand is just a policy statement by what's left of the Entente that Germany shouldn't be allowed to change borders. No wars are fought because of fatigue from WWI (Entente), and Germany being the only Axis country that can stand up to the Britain and France so they're the ones to set the timetable. There are no more colonial wars, and hence no territorial changes, because everything's already been colonised (other than China, which Japan still takes a run at).

1939-1945: WWII. There are no territorial changes in the West, because the side that already had everything they wanted won. In other words, anywhere that spoke French was already part of France. However, Poland still took a massive chunk of Germany, and Yugoslavia took a slice of Italy. All the nationality issues are solved by mass deportations though, so there aren't a bunch of Germans living in Poland, or even that many Hungarians in Slovakia or Bulgarians in Romania.

1945-1991: Cold War. There are essentially only 2 empires dominating the entire Earth, with other countries barely controlling their own foreign policy. They avoid full-scale war because nukes, so have to resort to proxy wars. Decolonisation also happens, but this is because the US wants decolonisation for Cold War reasons, forces Britain into it, and the other European countries have spent six years only existing on paper and aren't in a position to oppose it. The exception, Portugal, holds on until it collapses.

1991-present: US hegemony. The US can easily conquer any country other than Russia or China. Its only constraints are its own political culture, although in Iraq it demonstrated that it can act on the flimsiest casus belli without worrying about the UN. Russia has limited freedom of action due to its nuclear arsenal, so can invade neighbouring countries that the US hasn't specifically declared off-limits through NATO.

The Internationalists seems to be based on taking the 18th century view of war and saying it extends to 1928. This is fundamentally flawed, because that sort of war is based on a kind of non-national monarchy that no longer existed (even in Austria). The real historical break is with Robespierre and Fichte, when everyone wants to start living in their own nation-state; WWII is an extension of this, but solves it with deportations. After that, the Cold War plus everyone living in the right country for their nationality prevents war. Africa, where the borders are all wrong, is an exception, but that's got much more to do with the 1964 OAU declaration than the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

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>"The Soviet Union took territory after World War II, the only one of the Allies to do so."

Minor nitpick. The United States took the Northern Marianas Islands from Japan after WWII, despite not having controlled them before the war.

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The Franz Ferdinand/Diana comparison is just odd. Gavrilo Princip wasn't, at least primarily, ideologically an anarchist; he was rather a radical Serbian nationalist, working as a part of a radical Serbian nationalist group for Serbian nationalist goals, with this group having extensive ties to the Serbian establishment which was also working towards those nationalist goals. Franz Ferdinand was not just any random royal celebrity, he was Austria-Hungary's heir apparent and held a governmental role. I don't believe anyone has claimed the paparazzi whose actions led to Diana's death had ties to the Italian government, all Diana-related conspiracy theories have rather tended to point back to the British crown.

Perhaps a somewhat better comparison would be if it had turned out that Lee Harvey Oswald was not just a random communist-oriented gadfly but really a member of a radical cell within CPUSA and that this cell really had extensive contacts with the government of Cuba. In that instance chances would really have been non-zero that the assassination would have initiated processes that might have left to WW3.

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"get to keep territory you took in war." How does the Israeli occupation of Palestine fit in here? Is it just a special case?

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Thanks for hosting the essay; it inspires some ideas about what the United States could have been doing over the last twenty years if we'd not invaded Iraq: https://jakeseliger.com/2022/07/02/the-internationalists-and-making-war-illegal/

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Jul 3, 2022·edited Jul 3, 2022

I'm sorry, but I stopped. I agree with some other commenters that the author of the review isn't qualified for the task. The minimum qualification here would be to have read other books about World War 1 and the history of war, in order to compare the book's claims with something instead of just saying "this sounds convincing, TIL".

(Edit: I would *at minimum* recommend having read "The Guns of August", as well as any general history of World War 1, and would further strongly recommend reading about the Russian revolution, the 19th century European revolutions, and the industrial revolution, to get a sense of what a once-in-history confluence of events World War 1 really was.)

Again, I'm sorry. I know this comment isn't nice, but I claim it's true and necessary.

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I find the argument pretty unpersuasive. I would ascribe to gradualism and this not being some particularly noteworthy moment, but gradualism makes for a boring book.

I also think a lot of the change in attitudes really is just about nuclear weapons.

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I learned a few things from this review, and enjoyed the read, but I think several historical parallels (and some facts) are off.

About WWI, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand is downplayed. But Franz Ferdinand was not a prince like princess Diana, and not even like prince Charles. He was almost like MBS of Saudi Arabia - heir to the throne, and de facto ruler given the old age of the father (the Hapsburg Empire was a constitutional, federal monarchy unlike saudi arabia but the emperor was still quite important to government). And saying that the assassination was not the cause of the war because Serbia accepted most of the ultimatum is like saying that 9/11 was not the cause of the war in Afghanistan because the Talibans were willing to hand over bin Laden. Of course, the war extended to everyone else for other reasons, but still...

About sanctions, they were used before WWII, most notably against Italy for the war against Ethiopia.

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I really did not like this review. It fits the technical specs of a book review better than some other entrants, but...I dunno, maybe there's only so much one can do with such an apparently galaxy-brained book. The following is A Dozen Criticisms Assortment, in rough chronological order:

1) My gosh, that's a lot of really long, sentences broken up in strange places, by commas. Bit challenging to read, formatting could be more friendly.

2) The pokerball analogy really lost me. Unless it's meant as a sort of Scheherazade thing: https://gatherer.wizards.com/pages/card/details.aspx?printed=true&name=shahrazad

3) >the current world, where we expect war to be illegal, back into the time before the Peace Pact, when war was expected and normal

That "we" is doing a lot of heavy lifting. Pretty sure the majority worldwide consensus expectation these days is closer to the latter than the former. Even No Foreign Adventures-ists concede it's a Necessary Evil sometimes. Resolute pacifism is a dead letter in a world with nukes.

4) >ours is a world in which war has already been outlawed

Same general mischaracterization of actual norms in practice permeates whole review..."most people", "those of us", "our". I don't know whether to call it idealism or naivete, but it feels very...Francis Fukuyama End of History-ish. Do lots of people really still think this way? Did we forget realpolitik, or how the USA is at war somewhere about as often as California is on fire? (That is, basically always?) It sure seems like "illegal" wars happen all the time and no one much notices, cares, and/or has any ability to do anything about it anyway.

5) Too many asides, explicitly declared or otherwise. Distracting, didn't add much.

6) Not to speak for Zvi, who is perfectly capable of defending himself, but I read that paragraph with an implicit understanding that "never" meant "in modern history". Not "never" like "since humans first began warfare". Seems like an overly literal interpretation.

7) Ukraine take is...bad. Credulous, ill-informed. Surprised to see a claim that No, Really, Sanctions Are Powerful And Work Well given all the recent compelling skepticism going other direction. [Citation Needed]!

8) Section 1: "if you want more persuasion that people viewed war differently, I’d suggest you pick up the book." Okay, look, I know it's a long review already...but that's Kind Of A Big Deal, like a huge load-bearing part of the entire book's thesis. The review fails to persuade me of this claim's veracity (failure mode: Beware The Man Of One Study), and I'm not gonna pick up the book if I already find it dubious from the review.

9) Core Objection/Wished-For Section 6: thanks for including, wish it were a bigger part of the review. Very obvious weakness in book's argument, feels No True Scotsman-y to handwave away as "nonquests". Ongoing small-scale wars and failed states are...the Peace Pact working as intended? It sounds like a false dichotomy that one can either have Constant Conquest, or low-grade permanent militancy that never quite reaches the Good Old Days levels. The obvious alternative of Humane Conquest Only Against Failing States is not raised.

10) Six meaty Addendums means...a lot of material that could probably have been worked into the main body of the review somehow, or more concisely explained by just linking to references. Or even left out entirely?

11) >Reading it provides a useful exercise in trying to push yourself out of assuming that other people everywhere have the same cultural assumptions that you do

This could be the summary of the entire book, imo.

12) Got all the way through and didn't see a single mention of Soft Power/Hard Power. I'm confused how these very real diplomatic tools are supposed to work if the Peace Pact really shifted global norms so much that any form of "iron fist in velvet glove" is unthinkably close to a casus bellini. (Warmongering cocktail.) Maybe I'm really misunderstanding US history, but aren't most of our suggestions/threats extra-credible because we've got such a powerful military, and typically are willing to follow through with force when pushed hard enough?

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To nitpick, the review completely misses the point of the quote "You very much do not get to keep whatever you happen to occupy when there is a formal peace settlement, that has never been how this works." they criticize by "Prior to the Peace Pact, you absolutely did get to keep territory you took in war." - the assertion is not about keeping what you took in a war, but rather acknowledging that territory you "take in a war" (when a peace is established) is not the same as the territory you happen to occupy at the moment where the war ends.

Not only prior to the Peace Pact but even in premodern times it was very, very common that the victorious side did not take the territory they held (e.g. sacking enemy capital but taking over only contested lands), and it was also common to take some colonies they did not conquer (or even contest) on the battlefield; thus the assertion that the eventual peace treaty is what determines who will control the territory, it is influenced by the current de facto control but not solely determined by it.

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"Why didn't the death of Princess Diana in France because of a car chase with a paparazzo cause Italy to go to war with Canada?"

It's a nice, snappy, sound-bite example but it doesn't really fit in with the thesis. Diana was not the heir(ess) to the throne, she was now more akin to the Duchess of Windsor (and the Duke and Duchess were more nearly involved in murky war-time shenanigans), adn this wasn't a politically motivated assassination (despite the rash of conspiracy theories). Had Diana still been Charles' wife, there was no (overt) scandal associated with her, she wasn't travelling in a car with her new lover, and she had been deliberately killed by, say, a member of ETA for political reasons, then yes, a critical international diplomatic incident would have resulted.

Probably not war, for the reasons cited in the rest of the review. Which brings me on to this:

"I leave out Kellogg and Briand, who read as largely opportunists seeking to use these ideas for their own benefit. Kellogg in the end received the Nobel Prize. As an aside, I often think a history of all the times a Nobel went to the wrong person, or someone else could have reasonably contested it, would be a fascinating and very long book. "

I vaguely remember learning about the Kellog-Briand Peace Pact, and I want to know more about these two. If they weren't the onlie begetters, how did their names get entangled with it? Why did they jump aboard a bandwagon like 'no more war' for opportunistic reasons? You may be disappointed that your favourite guy didn't get the credit, but simply brushing aside the two names associated with this pact as "they don't count" sounds more like pique than measured judgement. If Kellog and Briand were rogues and cads, *tell me about them* because now you have made them sound more interesting, frankly, than the milk-and-water rest of this piece.

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Jul 3, 2022·edited Jul 3, 2022

Review-of-the-review: 7/10

This is a well-written, interesting, engaging review on an important topic. The only real problem with it is that it's comprehensively mistaken.

Thanks to Bret Devereaux's great blog posts on Victoria II (and to a lesser extent Europa Universalis) I was skeptical of the thesis from the start. Treating World War I as Old World Older business as usual without noting the "balance of power" system that made 1820-1910 almost as quiet within Europe as 1950-2020 is a mistake. So is giving New World Order a pass on World War II and various colonial wars / Cold War proxy conflicts. And Devereaux's account of how the growing costs and shifting technologies of war have changed its use is a persuasive contrast to this review's dismissiveness.

But I also found some real howlers in the review that torpedoed its credibility for me. Anyone who did the 30 seconds of Googling to learn that Europa Universalis covers the 15th-19th centuries should understand that the review's critique of Zvi is flat-out wrong. Anyone remotely familiar with the US-Mexican War will know that it was started by the US pressing a specific territorial claim along the southern border of freshly-annexed Texas-- a claim whose weakness as a casus belli was noted by none other than Abraham Lincoln in opposition to the war. And anyone with the slightest awareness of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_war_theory-- what it stipulates and when it developed-- would bring more to the subject of war's historical legal status than this reviewer does.

There's a grain of truth to the review's argument-- war has tended to become less accepted over time-- but the shift has been much smaller and more gradual than it's willing to consider. War in the medieval period (perhaps more so than the Grotius era, due to the growing influence of colonialism and nationalism!) absolutely had rules about just causes. Yes, it often broke them, but you can't just compare historical practice with modern aspiration-- if war's been outlawed what are we supposed to make of Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq? Do we really think the pretexts for wars of royal succession felt flimsier to contemporaries than that for Iraq does to us? And was what the (almost universally accepted) justification for the US invasion of Afghanistan but an application of the Old World Order understanding of neutrality to the Taliban's aid of Al-Qaeda?

I don't know how much of the wrongheadedness was there in The Internationalists to begin with, but in any case I still fault the reviewer for failing to engage critically. I enjoyed the review and even learned from it, but I can't give my vote to something this glaringly mistaken. As always, many thanks for contributing!

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WW1 was the turning point where empires were dismantled. It began with Spain during the Napoleonic Wars but that could be written off as an anomaly at the time, WW1 is when the impact really started to be felt. Germany, Russia, and Austria all lost there empire status really. Although two of them world get it back this did not last. Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, and France lost most of their colonies. The Soviet Union ended.

By 1992 only the United States remained as an empire, that's why it is the only one going around engaging in random wars. China and India are emerging into empire status now, although India will probably fracture by itself before it can engage in serious wars. That leaves just two empires: US and China.

Without empires there are no high-tech (serious) wars. Nation-states don't really start them (unless, like Russia, it is because it thinks another state's people are actually its own people).

The mindset of the empire is autarchy, they must be self-sufficient, and going to war to secure resources, to restore pride, or weird reasons, makes sense. A nation-state doesn't care about self-sufficiency and instead focuses on increasing its own prosperity, mainly via trade.

I believe there is better predictive power in this than a mindset shift brought about by one treaty.

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"Our current economic sanctions against Russia and our providing weapons to Ukraine would have been, in the 19th century, considered plenty of reason for Russia to declare war on us."

They haven't declared war on us because they are afraid of global thermonuclear war. We haven't declared war on them because we are afraid of global thermonuclear war. If Vladimir Putin were restrained by an international norm against aggressive war, he wouldn't have invaded Ukraine twice (three times, depending on how you define it) in the last decade.

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> You very much do not get to keep whatever you happen to occupy when there is a formal peace settlement, that has never been how this works ...

> Except this has only been true since the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Prior to the Peace Pact, you absolutely did get to keep territory you took in war.

Not true at all. In the example by the reviewer of the Mexican-American war, supposedly showing that before the Pact you did indeed keep occupied territory, the US occupied Mexico City but didn't keep it after the formal peace settlement. Exactly like the quoted guy was saying.

Yes you keep *some* of the territory, maybe, but usually a small amount of the overall conquest, for reasons that vary between "not wanting" the territory (meaning difficult to administer, likely to have continued resistence), no deal and continued fighting by the losing side (note this is similar to "not wanting" in effect), international opprobium, internal political concerns/war goals etc

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I wonder how tightly it would be possible to overlap Qutb's specific form of the Islamic conception of governance with a generic AI-optimist conception of governance. Someone with more of a grasp of the science fiction history would have to weigh in, but I'm fairly certain that "humans are clearly not good at governance, wouldn't it be nice to have a suprahuman intelligence running things?" goes back in AI form far before Asimov and MULTIVAC.

I.e. everyone agrees with Qutb on the problem, but not having a belief in his god we cannot agree with his solution.

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Typo thread? I didn't see one already.

Under the heading Addendum 2, there does not seem to be a second thing that is being assumed after "both that states could go to war", so the "both" seems incorrect.

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> the death of an Austro-Hungarian Prince, in Serbia

Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, which is and was in Bosnia. Bosnia had been unilaterally annexed by Austro-Hungary several years before the event.

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It's very weird to see Zvi's claim about Ukraine 'refuted' in a context that then explicitly discusses German unification. Because German unification is a perfect analogy. War was fought, ceasefire was initiated, partial territorial changes were agreed, much less than "keep what you take" but substantial. A few years later, war was fought again, and the most likely peace agreement still seems like it will be a partial territorial change; the conquered recognizing some claims of the conqueror for peace, and the conqueror giving up some land they have taken to forestall local rebellion and acquire international legitimacy from third parties. And if the conqueror is too aggressive in trying to keep everything they took (Alsace-Lorraine, the on-paper plans to decapitate Kyiv and take all of Ukraine at once), they pay a realpolitik cost in domestic unrest, resentful neighbors eager to take it back, and perception that they are an unreliable ally who may drag others into unwise wars.

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