CIAO DATE: 02/03
Fall 2002 (Volume 27 Issue 2)
Are democracies more or less likely than authoritarian states to achieve victory in warfare? According to Michael Desch of the University of Kentucky, "democratic defeatists" considered democracy a "decided liability" in war fighting. More recently, "democratic triumphalists" have argued that democracies, whether because they more carefully select the wars they wage or because they fight more effectively, are more likely to win in war. Following a review of major wars since 1815, however, Desch concludes that "regime type hardly matters" in explaining who wins and loses wars. Other factors--including overall military capabilities, the nature of the conflict, and the degree of regime consolidation --may better explain victory and defeat.
Robert Ross of Boston College considers the prospects for a U.S.-China war over Taiwan. Ross praises the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration for maintaining the U.S. commitment to protect Taiwan from a potential Chinese invasion while furthering U.S. engagement with the mainland. In contrast, he criticizes the current Bush administration's policy of constructing "a U.S.-Taiwan defense relationship focused on wartime cooperation." The administration's decision to increase U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and to consider selling missile defense technologies to Taiwan unnecessarily challenges Chinese security interests in the Taiwan Strait and increases the likelihood of conflict. Instead, Ross asserts that as long as Taiwan does not declare independence from China, the United States can be confident that it can continue to deter the Chinese use of force against Taiwan for decades to come.
Eric Heginbotham of the Council on Foreign Relations traces the rise of East Asian navies since 1980 and explains the reasons for this development. Heginbotham holds that the political fortunes of East Asian naval forces have improved in the last two decades because they have allied themselves with regimes that support liberal economic and social policies. Examples include China and Thailand, where in the last twenty years political leaders have sought to promote greater economic transparency and integration into global markets. Armies, on the other hand, generally tie their fortunes to nationalist regimes that seek to centralize control of the economy and society. The explanation for these different allegiances, suggests Heginbotham, is found in the different economic, social, and political preferences of navies and armies.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, concern that Russian nuclear weapons scientists could sell their expertise to the highest bidder or steal nuclear weapons or their components has risen dramatically. Sharon Weiner of Princeton University considers several ways to discourage these potential "nuclear entrepreneurs" from undertaking such efforts. In addition to calling for changes in U.S. nonproliferation programs that seek to create nonmilitary jobs for Russia's idle nuclear weapons workers, Weiner recommends greater U.S. investment in public goods and services such as radioactive waste cleanup and research and development on a variety of nonproliferation activities.
Stefan Elbe of the University of Warwick examines the changing nature of warfare in Africa as a result of the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS infection among its armed forces and assesses its impact not only on combatants but also on African societies as a whole. Elbe discusses how the virus has been used increasingly as a weapon of war, a trend, he argues, that can be reversed only if the combatants themselves become involved in local and international efforts to reduce its spread.
Would allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military impinge upon the privacy rights of heterosexual service members? Aaron Belkin of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Melissa Sheridan Embser-Herbert of Hamline University debunk arguments that the gay ban is necessary to protect privacy. They explain why lifting the ban would actually enhance the privacy rights of heterosexual as well as homosexual service members.
Democracy and Victory: Why Regime Type Hardly Matters by Michael C. Desch
Whether democracies are more or less likely to win wars has long been a contentious issue. The Greek general Thucydides' chronicle of the defeat of democratic Athens in its twenty-four-year struggle with authoritarian Sparta in The Peloponnesian War, particularly his account of the Sicilian debacle, remains the classic indictment of the inability of democracies to prepare for and fight wars. Indeed, for most of Western history, pessimism dominated thinking about democracy and war. "Democratic defeatists," from the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville to mid-twentieth-century realists such as E.H. Carr, George Kennan, and Walter Lippmann, believed that democracy was a decided liability in preparing for and fighting wars. Particularly during the Cold War, the pessimistic perspective on the fighting power of democracies was dominant. Even leaders of the free world, such as John F. Kennedy, believed that when democracy "competes with a system of government... built primarily for war, it is at a disadvantage." Despite the end of the Cold War, a few Cassandras remain concerned that democracies are unprepared to meet the next major military threat from authoritarian states such as China or international terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda.
Not everyone shared this pessimism, however. The Greek historian Herodotus argued that democracy increased military effectiveness...
Navigating the Taiwan Strait: Deterrance, Escalation Dominance, and U.S.-China by Robert S. Ross
Since the end of the Cold War, the strategic focus of the United States has shifted from Europe to East Asia, in recognition of East Asia's growing economic importance and the strategic dynamism of the People's Republic of China (PRC). In this context, the prospect for war in the Taiwan Strait has emerged as a major preoccupation of U.S. policymakers. The March 1996 U.S.-China confrontation, when the PRC carried out military exercises and missile tests near Taiwan and the United States deployed two aircraft carriers to the region, placed this concern at the forefront of U.S. strategic planning. The result has been increased U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the beginnings of a U.S.-Taiwan defense relationship focused on wartime cooperation, and heightened U.S. interest in missile defense.
The assumption of the George W. Bush administration is that war in the Taiwan Strait is sufficiently likely that the United States must strengthen its diplomatic and military ties with Taiwan, even though such ties could disrupt U.S.- China relations and regional stability. But the analysis supporting this key assumption is lacking. In the aftermath of the Cold War, interest among scholars and policymakers in deterrence theory and in its application to U.S. foreign policy has languished.
The Fall and Rise of Navies in East Asia: Military Organizations, Domestic Politics, and Grand Strategy Eric Heginbotham
On March 20, 1997, the Thai navy took delivery of the Chakri Naruebet, a 10,000-ton Spanish-built aircraft carrier equipped with eight Sea Harrier fighters and six Seahawk helicopters. With this purchase, Thailand became the first East Asian state since the 1950s to own and operate an aircraft carrier. The purchase was one of many events signaling the rise of naval power across the region. Since 1980, aggregate East Asian naval tonnage has increased 69 percent, while the average age of warships has decreased. No comparable growth was recorded in the equipment holdings of armies, air forces, or navies anywhere else in the world. What accounts for this shift in military strategy in East Asia, and what is its significance for international peace and security? The Fall and Rise of Navies in East Asia.
There are two common explanations for this phenomenon, both of which are flawed. The first is that the combination of the end of the Cold War and the development of regional multipolarity increased the level of insecurity in East Asia and thus the need for enhanced military capabilities. This explanation fails to consider, however, the timing of the naval buildups, some of which began in the early 1980s and others only in the late 1990s (in most cases without apparent connection to either the end of the Cold War or the geographic position of the states involved). Also, in most cases, these buildups occurred around the same time that the leaders of these states were busy heralding the most secure international environment in decades. A second explanation holds that the increases in naval power were by-products of economic growth and decisions to replace labor with capital. This explanation is insufficient because...
Preventing Nuclear Entrepeneurship in Russia's Nuclear Cities by Sharon K. Weiner
Since September 11, 2001, concern about an attack on the United States by terrorists using a stolen nuclear warhead or an improvised radiological weapon--a "dirty bomb"--has risen dramatically. In discussions about this threat, Russia is frequently mentioned as the most likely source of black-market nuclear skills and materials. In its 2002 report to Congress, for example, the National Intelligence Council noted that Russia's nuclear security measures are still primarily oriented toward external threats and "are not designed to counter the pre-eminent threat faced today--an insider who attempts unauthorized actions." Reports of Russian weapons experts sharing their knowledge with other countries have also proliferated. Whether through scientific exchange visits, conferences, or email, Russian nuclear experts may be sharing sensitive information with others. Although many of these reports are anecdotal and few have been rigorously documented since the early 1990s, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has consistently reported to Congress its suspicions that Russian scientists are helping foreign countries pursue nuclear weapons development programs.
The nuclear experts of most concern are those living in Russia's ten "nuclear cities," which in the late 1980s employed an estimated 150,000 people in...
HIV/AIDS and the Changing Landscape of War in Africa by Stefan Elbe
Since the discovery of AIDS more than two decades ago, 60 million people have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and more than 20 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has become a humanitarian and human security issue of almost unimaginable magnitude, representing one of the most pervasive challenges to human well-being and survival in many parts of the world. It has taken a particularly heavy toll on sub-Saharan Africa, where AIDS is now the primary cause of death. In light of this magnitude, HIV/AIDS is not only having devastating effects on the individuals and families touched by the illness; it is also beginning to have much wider social ramifications. In some African countries, HIV prevalence rates have reached between 20 and 30 percent of the adult population. In these countries HIV/AIDS is giving rise to a vast array of economic, social, and political problems.
An important development overlooked by scholars in this regard is the growing impact of HIV/AIDS on the nature and conduct of armed conflict in Africa. As the director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS...
A Modest Proposal: Privacy as a Flawed Rationale for the Exclusion of Gays and Lesbians by Aaron Belkin and Melissa Sheridan Embser-Herbert
Efforts to promote racial, ethnic, religious, and gender diversity in the U.S. armed forces have often provoked controversy between civil rights advocates and those who fear that integration could undermine organizational effectiveness. Recent debates over sexual orientation have been no less divisive. When President Bill Clinton attempted to overturn Department of Defense regulations that prohibited gays and lesbians from serving in the military, congressional opponents formulated a new policy on homosexuality that became part of the 1994 National Defense Authorization Act, the first congressional statute to include a gay ban. The Defense Department then drafted regulations known as "Don't...