8 Pages

On the Peaceful Disposition of Military Dictatorships

The contribution which sociology can make to strategic studies consists mainly of efforts to relate the military or strategic situation to other aspects of society. The idea that strategic intentions as well as military performance depend on the factors subsumed under the headings of culture and society is not new. In the ancient Chinese political thinkers we repeatedly find the idea that great inequalities of wealth adversely affect the military strength. On this point Mao was a true heir of Lord Shang. Herodotus attributes the Greek military superiority over the Persians to the patriotism and solidarity bred by the intense civic life of the Greek city states. Polybius explains the victories of the Romans by the advantages of their mixed constitution. Ibn Haldun attributes the nomads’ ability to defeat larger city-based armies to the civic and martial virtues bred by the austere way of life in the desert, which (according to him) contrasts with the cowardice and factiousness of the soldiers who live luxuriously in the cities. It is therefore, no discovery to say that to assess a strategic situation we must take into account not only the easily quantifiable factors-the number of soldiers, weapons and the economic potential-but also more intangible factors stemming from the internal dynamics of political systems. Here I shall attempt to show a special relationship between the internal dynamics of a particular type of political system and its inclinations and capacity in external conflicts.