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Decline Doesn’t Cause War



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Decline Doesn’t Cause War

Dense economic linkages make conflict impossible


Jervis 11 – Professor of Political Science @ Columbia

Robert, Professor in the Department of Political Science and School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, December 2011, “Force in Our Times,” Survival, Vol. 25, No. 4, p. 403-425

Even if war is still seen as evil, the security community could be dissolved if severe conflicts of interest were to arise. Could the more peaceful world generate new interests that would bring the members of the community into sharp disputes? 45 A zero-sum sense of status would be one example, perhaps linked to a steep rise in nationalism. More likely would be a worsening of the current economic difficulties, which could itself produce greater nationalism, undermine democracy and bring back old-fashioned beggar-my-neighbor economic policies. While these dangers are real, it is hard to believe that the conflicts could be great enough to lead the members of the community to contemplate fighting each other. It is not so much that economic interdependence has proceeded to the point where it could not be reversed – states that were more internally interdependent than anything seen internationally have fought bloody civil wars. Rather it is that even if the more extreme versions of free trade and economic liberalism become discredited, it is hard to see how without building on a preexisting high level of political conflict leaders and mass opinion would come to believe that their countries could prosper by impoverishing or even attacking others. Is it possible that problems will not only become severe, but that people will entertain the thought that they have to be solved by war? While a pessimist could note that this argument does not appear as outlandish as it did before the financial crisis, an optimist could reply (correctly, in my view) that the very fact that we have seen such a sharp economic down-turn without anyone suggesting that force of arms is the solution shows that even if bad times bring about greater economic conflict, it will not make war thinkable.

Empirical studies show no causal relationship between economic decline and war


Miller 1 – prof of economics

Morris Miller 2001, Professor of Economics, Poverty: A Cause of War?, http://archive.peacemagazine.org/v17n1p08.htm



Library shelves are heavy with studies focused on the correlates and causes of war. Some of the leading scholars in that field suggest that we drop the concept of causality, since it can rarely be demonstrated. Nevertheless, it may be helpful to look at the motives of war-prone political leaders and the ways they have gained and maintained power, even to the point of leading their nations to war. Poverty: The Prime Causal Factor? Poverty is most often named as the prime causal factor. Therefore we approach the question by asking whether poverty is characteristic of the nations or groups that have engaged in wars. As we shall see, poverty has never been as significant a factor as one would imagine. Largely this is because of the traits of the poor as a group - particularly their tendency to tolerate their suffering in silence and/or be deterred by the force of repressive regimes. Their voicelessness and powerlessness translate into passivity. Also, because of their illiteracy and ignorance of worldly affairs, the poor become susceptible to the messages of war-bent demagogues and often willing to become cannon fodder. The situations conductive to war involve political repression of dissidents, tight control over media that stir up chauvinism and ethnic prejudices, religious fervor, and sentiments of revenge. The poor succumb to leaders who have the power to create such conditions for their own self-serving purposes. Desperately poor people in poor nations cannot organize wars, which are exceptionally costly. The statistics speak eloquently on this point. In the last 40 years the global arms trade has been about $1500 billion, of which two-thirds were the purchases of developing countries. That is an amount roughly equal to the foreign capital they obtained through official development aid (ODA). Since ODA does not finance arms purchases (except insofar as money that is not spent by a government on aid-financed roads is available for other purposes such as military procurement) financing is also required to control the media and communicate with the populace to convince them to support the war. Large-scale armed conflict is so expensive that governments must resort to exceptional sources, such as drug dealing, diamond smuggling, brigandry, or deal-making with other countries. The reliance on illicit operations is well documented in a recent World Bank report that studied 47 civil wars that took place between 1960 and 1999, the main conclusion of which is that the key factor is the availability of commodities to plunder. For greed to yield war, there must be financial opportunities. Only affluent political leaders and elites can amass such weaponry, diverting funds to the military even when this runs contrary to the interests of the population. In most inter-state wars the antagonists were wealthy enough to build up their armaments and propagandize or repress to gain acceptance for their policies. Economic Crises? Some scholars have argued that it is not poverty, as such, that contributes to the support for armed conflict, but rather some catalyst, such as an economic crisis. However, a study by Minxin Pei and Ariel Adesnik shows that this hypothesis lacks merit. After studying 93 episodes of economic crisis in 22 countries in Latin American and Asia since World War II, they concluded that much of the conventional thinking about the political impact of economic crisis is wrong: "The severity of economic crisis - as measured in terms of inflation and negative growth - bore no relationship to the collapse of regimes ... or (in democratic states, rarely) to an outbreak of violence... In the cases of dictatorships and semi-democracies, the ruling elites responded to crises by increasing repression (thereby using one form of violence to abort another)."

Economic decline does not cause war


Boehmer 7 – associate prof of poly sci @ UT-El Paso

Charles Boehmer, Associate Professor, Dept. of Political Science @ University of Texas at El Paso. “The Effects of Economic Crisis, Domestic Discord, and State Efficacy on the Decision to Initiate Interstate Conflict”. Politics and Policy. Volume 35, Issue 4, Pages 774-809. Wiley InterScience. December 7, 2007.



Scholars such as MacFie (1938) and Blainey (1988) have nevertheless questioned the validity of the diversionary thesis. As noted by Levy (1989), this perspective is rarely formulated as a cohesive and comprehensive theory, and there has been little or no knowledge cumulation. Later analyses do not necessarily build on past studies and the discrepancies between inquiries are often difficult to unravel. "Studies have used a variety of research designs, different dependent variables (uses of force, major uses of force, militarized disputes), different estimation techniques, and different data sets covering different time periods and different states" (Bennett and Nordstrom 2000, 39). To these problems, we should add a lack of theoretical precision and incomplete model specification. By a lack of theoretical precision, I am referring to the linkages between economic conditions and domestic strife that remain unclear in some studies (Miller 1995; Russett 1990). Consequently, extant studies are to a degree incommensurate; they offer a step in the right direction but do not provide robust cross-national explanations and tests of economic growth and interstate conflict.

Economic decline empirically doesn’t cause great power wars – global integration checks


Barnett, senior managing director of Enterra Solutions, 9

[Thomas P.M., August 24, World Politics Review, “The New Rules: Security Remains Stable Amid Financial Crisis,” http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/4213/the-new-rules-security-remains-stable-amid-financial-crisis, accessed 7-13-13, UR]


Can we say that the world has suffered a distinct shift to political radicalism as a result of the economic crisis? ¶ Indeed, no. The world's major economies remain governed by center-left or center-right political factions that remain decidedly friendly to both markets and trade. In the short run, there were attempts across the board to insulate economies from immediate damage (in effect, as much protectionism as allowed under current trade rules), but there was no great slide into "trade wars." Instead, the World Trade Organization is functioning as it was designed to function, and regional efforts toward free-trade agreements have not slowed. ¶ Can we say Islamic radicalism was inflamed by the economic crisis? ¶ If it was, that shift was clearly overwhelmed by the Islamic world's growing disenchantment with the brutality displayed by violent extremist groups such as al-Qaida. And looking forward, austere economic times are just as likely to breed connecting evangelicalism as disconnecting fundamentalism. ¶ At the end of the day, the economic crisis did not prove to be sufficiently frightening to provoke major economies into establishing global regulatory schemes, even as it has sparked a spirited -- and much needed, as I argued last week -- discussion of the continuing viability of the U.S. dollar as the world's primary reserve currency. Naturally, plenty of experts and pundits have attached great significance to this debate, seeing in it the beginning of "economic warfare" and the like between "fading" America and "rising" China. And yet, in a world of globally integrated production chains and interconnected financial markets, such "diverging interests" hardly constitute signposts for wars up ahead. Frankly, I don't welcome a world in which America's fiscal profligacy goes undisciplined, so bring it on -- please!

Causal chains that link economic decline to great power war are factually and empirically untrue


Ferguson, Harvard University Laurence A. Tisch History Professor, 6

[Niall, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, September/October 2006, Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs vol. 85 issue 5, pp. 62-63, “The Next War of the World,” accessed 7-13-13, UR]


Nor can economic crises explain the bloodshed. What may be the most familiar causal chain in modern historiography links the Great Depression to the rise of fascism and the outbreak of World War II. But that simple story leaves too much out. Nazi Germany started the war in Europe only after its economy had recovered. Not all the countries affected by the Great Depression were taken over by fascist regimes, nor did all such regimes start wars of aggression. In fact, no general relationship between economics and conflict is discernible for the century as a whole. Some wars came after periods of growth, others were the causes rather than the consequences of economic catastrophe, and some severe economic crises were not followed by wars. Many trace responsibility for the butchery to extreme ideologies. The Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm calls the years between 1914 and 1991 "an era of religious wars" but argues that "the most militant and bloodthirsty religions were secular ideologies." At the other end of the political spectrum, the conservative historian Paul Johnson blames the violence on "the rise of moral relativism, the decline of personal responsibility [and] the repudiation of Judeo-Christian values." But the rise of new ideologies or the decline of old values cannot be regarded as causes of violence in their own right. Extreme belief systems, such as anti-Semitism, have existed for most of modern history, but only at certain times and in certain places have they been widely embraced and translated into violence.

Free Trade Defense

Trade conflicts won’t escalate


Joseph Nye 96, Dean of the Kennedy School of Government – Harvard University, Washington Quarterly

The low likelihood of direct great power clashes does not mean that there will be no tensions between them. Disagreements are likely to continue over regional conflicts, like those that have arisen over how to deal with the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Efforts to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction and means of their delivery are another source of friction, as is the case over Russian and Chinese nuclear cooperation with Iran, which the United States steadfastly opposes. The sharing of burdens and responsibilities for maintaining international security and protecting the natural environment are a further subject of debate among the great powers. Furthermore, in contrast to the views of classical Liberals, increased trade and economic interdependence can increase as well as decrease conflict and competition among trading partners. The main point, however, is that such disagreements are very unlikely to escalate to military conflicts.

No trade war impact


Ian Fletcher 8/29/11 Ian Fletcher is Senior Economist of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, former Research Fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council M.A. and B.A. from Columbia and U Chicago, "Avoid Trade War? We're Already In One!" [www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-fletcher/avoid-trade-war-were-alre_b_939967.html]
The curious thing about the concept of trade war is that, unlike actual shooting war, it has no historical precedent. In fact, there has never been a significant trade war, "significant" in the sense of having done serious economic damage. All history records are minor skirmishes at best.¶ Go ahead. Try and name a trade war. The Great Trade War of 1834? Nope. The Great Trade War of 1921? Nope Again. There isn't one.¶ The standard example free traders give is that America's Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930 either caused the Great Depression or made it spread around the world. But this canard does not survive serious examination, and has actually been denied by almost every economist who has actually researched the question in depth -- a group ranging from Paul Krugman on the left to Milton Friedman on the right.The Depression's cause was monetary. The Fed allowed the money supply to balloon during the late 1920s, piling up in the stock market as a bubble. It then panicked, miscalculated, and let it collapse by a third by 1933, depriving the economy of the liquidity it needed to breathe. Trade had nothing to do with it.¶ As for the charge that Smoot caused the Depression to spread worldwide: it was too small a change to have plausibly so large an effect. For a start, it only applied to about one-third of America's trade: about 1.3 percent of our GDP. Our average tariff on dutiable goods went from 44.6 to 53.2 percent -- not a terribly big jump. Tariffs were higher in almost every year from 1821 to 1914. Our tariff went up in 1861, 1864, 1890, and 1922 without producing global depressions, and the recessions of 1873 and 1893 managed to spread worldwide without tariff increases.¶ As the economic historian (and free trader!) William Bernstein puts it in his book A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World,¶ Between 1929 and 1932, real GDP fell 17 percent worldwide, and by 26 percent in the United States, but most economic historians now believe that only a miniscule part of that huge loss of both world GDP and the United States' GDP can be ascribed to the tariff wars. .. At the time of Smoot-Hawley's passage, trade volume accounted for only about 9 percent of world economic output. Had all international trade been eliminated, and had no domestic use for the previously exported goods been found, world GDP would have fallen by the same amount -- 9 percent. Between 1930 and 1933, worldwide trade volume fell off by one-third to one-half. Depending on how the falloff is measured, this computes to 3 to 5 percent of world GDP, and these losses were partially made up by more expensive domestic goods. Thus, the damage done could not possibly have exceeded 1 or 2 percent of world GDP -- nowhere near the 17 percent falloff seen during the Great Depression... The inescapable conclusion: contrary to public perception, Smoot-Hawley did not cause, or even significantly deepen, the Great Depression.¶ The oft-bandied idea that Smoot-Hawley started a global trade war of endless cycles of tit-for-tat retaliation is also mythical. According to the official State Department report on this very question in 1931:¶ With the exception of discriminations in France, the extent of discrimination against American commerce is very slight...By far the largest number of countries do not discriminate against the commerce of the United States in any way.¶ That is to say, foreign nations did indeed raise their tariffs after the passage of Smoot, but this was a broad-brush response to the Depression itself, aimed at all other foreign nations without distinction, not a retaliation against the U.S. for its own tariff. The doom-loop of spiraling tit-for-tat retaliation between trading partners that paralyzes free traders with fear today simply did not happen.¶ "Notorious" Smoot-Hawley is a deliberately fabricated myth, plain and simple. We should not allow this myth to paralyze our policy-making in the present day.¶ There is a basic unresolved paradox at the bottom of the very concept of trade war. If, as free traders insist, free trade is beneficial whether or not one's trading partners reciprocate, then why would any rational nation start one, no matter how provoked? The only way to explain this is to assume that major national governments like the Chinese and the U.S. -- governments which, whatever bad things they may have done, have managed to hold nuclear weapons for decades without nuking each other over trivial spats -- are not players of realpolitik, but schoolchildren.¶ When the moneymen in Beijing, Tokyo, Berlin, and the other nations currently running trade surpluses against the U.S. start to ponder the financial realpolitik of exaggerated retaliation against the U.S. for any measures we may employ to bring our trade back into balance, they will discover the advantage is with us, not them. Because they are the ones with trade surpluses to lose, not us.¶ So our present position of weakness is, paradoxically, actually a position of strength.¶ Likewise, China can supposedly suddenly stop buying our Treasury Debt if we rock the boat. But this would immediately reduce the value of the trillion or so they already hold -- not to mention destroying, by making their hostility overt, the fragile (and desperately-tended) delusion in the U.S. that America and China are still benign economic "partners" in a win-win economic relationship.¶ At the end of the day, China cannot force us to do anything economically that we don't choose to. America is still a nuclear power. We can -- an irresponsible but not impossible scenario -- repudiate our debt to them (or stop paying the interest) as the ultimate counter-move to anything they might contemplate. More plausibly, we might simply restore the tax on the interest on foreign-held bonds that was repealed in 1984 thanks to Treasury Secretary Donald Regan.¶ Thus a certain amount of back-and-forth token retaliation (and loud squealing) is indeed likely if America starts defending its interests in trade as diligently as our trading partners have been defending theirs, but that's it. The rest of the world engages in these struggles all the time without doing much harm; it will be no different if we join the party.

Hegemony Defense

Economic decline won’t kill heg --

Their internal link takes out their impact—if the world economy collapses, other countries will suffer too—the U.S. may be absolutely weaker, but it will still be relatively stronger—economic collapse would prevent other countries from militarizing to challenge us

Economic crisis makes heg sustainable.


Mead 9

(Walter Russell, Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, 2/4, www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2169866/posts, AD: 6/20/10)


Even before the Panic of 2008 sent financial markets into turmoil and launched what looks like the worst global recession in decades, talk of American decline was omnipresent. In the long term, the United States faces the rise of Asia and the looming fiscal problems posed by Medicare and other entitlement programs. In the short term, there is a sense that, after eight years of George W. Bush, the world, full of disdain for our way of life, seems to be spinning out of our--and perhaps anybody's--control. The financial panic simply brought all that simmering anxiety to a boil, and the consensus now seems to be that the United States isn't just in danger of decline, but in the full throes of it--the beginning of a "post-American" world. Perhaps--but the long history of capitalism suggests another possibility. After all, capitalism has seen a steady procession of economic crises and panics, from the seventeenth-century Tulip Bubble in the Netherlands and the Stop of the Exchequer under Charles II in England through the Mississippi and South Sea bubbles of the early eighteenth century, on through the crises associated with the Napoleonic wars and the spectacular economic crashes that repeatedly wrought havoc and devastation to millions throughout the nineteenth century. The panics of 1837, 1857, 1873, 1893, and 1907 were especially severe, culminating in the Great Crash of 1929, which set off a depression that would not end until World War II. The series of crises continued after the war, and the last generation has seen the Penn Central bankruptcy in 1970, the first Arab oil crisis of 1973, the Third World debt crisis of 1982, the S&L crisis, the Asian crisis of 1997, the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2001, and today's global financial meltdown. And yet, this relentless series of crises has not disrupted the rise of a global capitalist system, centered first on the power of the United Kingdom and then, since World War II, on the power of the United States. After more than 300 years, it seems reasonable to conclude that financial and economic crises do not, by themselves, threaten either the international capitalist system or the special role within it of leading capitalist powers like the United Kingdom and the United States. If anything, the opposite seems true--that financial crises in some way sustain Anglophone power and capitalist development. Indeed, many critics of both capitalism and the "Anglo-Saxons" who practice it so aggressively have pointed to what seems to be a perverse relationship between such crises and the consolidation of the "core" capitalist economies against the impoverished periphery. Marx noted that financial crises remorselessly crushed weaker companies, allowing the most successful and ruthless capitalists to cement their domination of the system. For dependency theorists like Raul Prebisch, crises served a similar function in the international system, helping stronger countries marginalize and impoverish developing ones. Setting aside the flaws in both these overarching theories of capitalism, this analysis of economic crises is fundamentally sound--and especially relevant to the current meltdown. Cataloguing the early losses from the financial crisis, it's hard not to conclude that the central capitalist nations will weather the storm far better than those not so central. Emerging markets have been hit harder by the financial crisis than developed ones as investors around the world seek the safe haven provided by U.S. Treasury bills, and commodity-producing economies have suffered extraordinary shocks as commodity prices crashed from their record, boom-time highs. Countries like Russia, Venezuela, and Iran, which hoped to use oil revenue to mount a serious political challenge to American power and the existing world order, face serious new constraints. Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must now spend less time planning big international moves and think a little bit harder about domestic stability. Far from being the last nail in America's coffin, the financial crisis may actually resuscitate U.S. power relative to its rivals

Deterrence solves the impact—econ collapse will have no effect



Deudney, ’99

(Daniel, Asst Prof of Poli Sci at Johns Hopkins, Contested Grounds: Security and Conflict in the New Environmental Politics)


Part of the reason for this loosening of the link between economic and military power has been the nuclear revolution, which has made it relatively cheap for the leading states to deploy staggering levels of violence capacity. Given that the major states field massively oversufficient nuclear forces at the cost of a few percent of their GDP, environmentally induced economic decline would have to be extreme before their ability to field a minimum nuclear deterrent would be jeopardized. A stark example of this new pattern is the fact that the precipitious decline in Russia's economy and defense spending in the 1990s has not diminished Russia's ability to deter great power attack.









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