War and Peace

New Thinking About the Causes of War and War Avoidance


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Professor John Norton Moore

University of Virginia School of Law

Fall 2013

Whatever the focus of your professional career, one issue that ought to be of considerable interest to all citizens is the avoidance of war. This interdisciplinary seminar will explore some of the latest thinking about the causes of international armed conflict and the ways in which future wars might be avoided and peace preserved. This seminar builds upon work the instructor began more than a decade ago as the first Chairman of the Board of the congressionally-established U.S. Institute of Peace. Recent studies by Yale Professors Donald Kagan (History) and Bruce Russett (Political Science), and by University of Hawaii Political Science Professor Rudy Rummel, will be examined, along with a number of traditional intellectual approaches ranging from international law, arms control, and world federalism, to deterrence theory. Case studies of past wars will be examined to test competing theories. Prominent guest lecturers occasionally take part.

Course Overview

The Fall 2013 seminar on “War and Peace: New Thinking About the Causes of War and War Avoidance” explores the latest research about controlling war, particularly the important emerging consensus on the “democratic peace” and the parallel and chilling new information on the staggering human toll wrought by totalitarian “democide,” economic, and environmental failures. The seminar also seeks to explore a new paradigm in war avoidance developed by Professor Moore following his tenure as Chairman of the Board of the United States Institute of Peace, based on the importance of democracy, deterrence, governmental structures, government failure, elite psychology and the rule of law. Most broadly, the seminar also explores the extent to which this new paradigm may be a model for overall democratic-nation foreign policy. Finally, the seminar explores the consequences and modalities for United States foreign policy, efforts to strengthen the United Nations, and efforts to strengthen world order and human freedom, if the evidence about the “democratic peace,” totalitarian “democide,” or, more broadly, the new paradigm of "Incentive Theory" is correct.

Part I Provides an “Introduction and Overview: Theories of War and War Prevention,” examining in turn: 1. Some classic writings about war; 2. Competing perspectives about the nature of war on the eve of ‘the war to end all wars’; and 3. Theories of war and war prevention.

Part II Focuses on the “Internal Checks on War: Democracy as a Strong Correlative of Peace--the 'Second Image,'” by examining: A. The democratic peace: examining non-war between democracies and some possible counter-examples; B. Are democracies less war-like?: the record of democracies versus non-democracies; C. Possible underlying reasons for the democratic peace; and D. Prevailing in war: the record of democracies versus non-democracies.

Part III Focuses on “External Checks on War: Deterrence--the 'Third Image,'” with sessions on: A. Deterrence and how it operates: a continuing debate; B. The effects of a double deterrence-absence: simultaneous absence of adequate deterrence in both the political and military domains; C. Democracies and deterrence: the state of knowledge about comparative effectiveness of democracies and non-democracies in deterring; and D. New thinking about deterrence: modalities for deterring regime elites.

Part IV Considers "Individual Psychology and Perspectives--the 'First Image,'": A. Personality Type; B. Belief Systems--Political, Religious, Cultural, Historical; C. Life Experience; D. "Wired" Cognitive Bias Including Prospect Theory; and E. Mao: A Case in the "First Image".

Part V Examines “Democracy as a Correlative of Other Major Foreign Policy Goals” by focusing on: A. Human rights and avoidance of genocide and democide; B. The debate about implementing human rights (human rights alone or human rights and democracy-building?); C. The debate about democracy and economic development; D. Totalitarianism and environmental destruction; E. Totalitarianism and famine; and F. The "Arab Spring" and the Spread of Democracy.

Part VI Focuses on “Implementing Incentive Theory in Democratic Foreign Policy” by exploring: A. The debate about the conditions and modalities for democracy building; B. "Pushback" against democracy; and C. Democracy building and deterrence in U.S. foreign policy.

Part VII Reviews “Selected Case Studies,” including: A. World War I; B. World War II; C. The Korean War; D. The Indo-China War and its aftermath; and E. The Gulf War, The Iraq War and the "war" on terror.

Each session seeks to develop the best scientific evidence currently available about war and war avoidance, and to blend this evidence into a coherent and workable new approach for serving democratic foreign policy goals. The overall focus of the seminar is to develop, test and refine the current state of human knowledge about war avoidance and the promotion of human freedom and dignity on a worldwide basis. It is hoped and expected that student papers and participation will contribute to the state of the art in this rapidly evolving area of human knowledge.

Readings for each week are designed to give seminar participants the necessary grounding in each subject. They will form the starting point of group discussions or provide reference points for questioning the presentations of guest participants. The seminar will meet from 7:00-9:00 pm on Wednesday evenings, unless otherwise scheduled to accommodate guest participants. You are expected to attend every session unless excused because of your own illness, serious illness or death in your immediate family, participation in certain University-sanctioned activities, or conflict with a religious holiday. Where possible, excused absences should be cleared with me in advance (in which case, I will endeavor to record the session for you).

The three credit units awarded for the course reflect the substantial reading assignments for each session and the requirement of an original paper of publishable quality. Your paper must be submitted online to LAW ITC no later than 4:30 pm on the last day of exams, Thursday, December 19, 2013. I must receive an outline of your proposed topic by Wednesday October 2, and a first draft by Wednesday November 6, to provide adequate time for a meeting with me on the draft. All students must write a minimum of 30 pages (6,000 words excluding footnotes), Students planning on using their papers to meet the Writing Requirement must write a minimum of 40 pages. Your paper may NOT be combined with that for any other course or credit. Citations should conform to THE BLUEBOOK: A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF CITATION (19th ed. 2010).

John Norton Moore