“The Frequency of Wars”

from a post at ScienceDaily.

“We may think the world enjoyed periods of relative freedom from war between the Cold War and 9/11 but [new research]   shows that the number of conflicts between pairs of states rose steadily from 6 per year on average between 1870 and 1913 to 17 per year in the period of the two World Wars, 31 per year in the Cold War, and 36 per year in the 1990s.”

“When the researchers have discussed their work with colleagues, the most frequent questions have been about the extra wars since 1945: “Aren’t these just America’s wars?” and “Aren’t these just coalition wars in which many far flung countries join symbolically, yet most never fire a shot?” “No” is the answer to both these questions. If one removes “America’s wars” altogether from the data, it makes no difference: the rising trend is still there.”

“The research gives three explanations for [the increase]. Firstly, economic growth has made destructive power cheaper, not just absolutely cheaper but cheaper relative to civilian goods. Second, the key to modern states’ acquisition of destructive power was the ability to tax and borrow more than ever before, and the growth of fiscal capacity was hugely assisted by the rise of democracy. Third, war is disruptive of trade, but those countries that succeeded in maintaining external trading links in wartime could wage war more effectively.”

the link in the article to the full study is old–there’s a newer version. with charts!

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