War in the Nuclear Era

2489 WordsJun 25, 201810 Pages
Addressing the question of whether war is a rational decision or a mistake is important to understand the causes of war and explain the reduction in the number of wars fought among countries in today’s nuclear era. The argument, under which war is a mistake, is a normative claim about what action states should have chosen, based on the outcomes that have been produced. That is, for a decision to be good, it needs to have produced the actor’s preferred outcome. However, the mistake perspective is problematic under the uncertainty and competitiveness of the anarchic international political system. The rational theory provides a better alternative. In this paper, the rational theory of war will unfold by beginning with an understanding of…show more content…
States pay attention to the long term as well as the immediate consequences of their actions. Therefore, the value of going to war is the outcome for which a state would settle through bargaining. Thus, for any deal to prevent war, each state must decide that they prefer the deal to fighting a war. Mistake advocators will be quick to point out that the utility-maximizing perspective might be problematic since the theory does not include uncertainty in its evaluation of costs and benefits. However, accepting this criticism will not undermine the rational perspective. The utility-maximizing theory is only the simplified first step in assessing the rationality of a state decision to fight a war. That being said, this vision of rationality accounts in part for the reduction in the number of wars fought between countries now compared to the past. Nuclear technology and mutually assured destruction have elevated the cost of war to such an extent that it is now almost impossible for the benefits to outweigh the costs of nuclear warfare. Thus, the main interest in security has shifted the rational utility-maximizing states’ policy from winning to avoiding wars. Rationality and relative power: Balance, stability and security Today’s ‘balanced multi polarity’, stabilized by nuclear technology, makes international relations more secure
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