chapter  11
22 Pages

The control of war

Introduction The first half of the 1990s was notable for the way in which three of the world’s most important potential war prevention ‘mechanisms’ were, in the eyes of many, greatly discredited by their failure to do their job. This was seen to be the result of a mixture of alleged indecisiveness, poor judgement, ignorance, short-sighted self-interest or pure hypocrisy on the part of the major powers. NATO, the European Union and the United Nations, in the view of some strategists, together (or, in the case of NATO, on its own) probably could have stopped the murderous Balkan wars at their outset. The destruction which NATO and the UN finally unleashed on the Bosnian Serbs in late August 1995 would seem to emphasise their possession of the necessary capability to have done this. Yet, at the beginning of the Balkan conflict, all proved unable to get their act together to prevent the mass slaughter and ethnic cleansing that confirmed for the entire world to see that humanity in Europe was still capable of descending below the level of the beasts. Their collective failure, despite their having such an awesome amount of potential military and economic power, would seem to both provoke and emphasise the importance of the question of to just what extent is it feasible to prevent the potential causes of war identified in the last chapter from turning into actual conflicts. Are there ways of succeeding tomorrow where the major powers of today so manifestly failed? It is this question which will form the focus for the discussion below. The Change Map will be brought in where relevant to provide an added dimension to the analysis. (Some of the reasons behind the major powers’ policies on intervention referred to above will be examined during the course of Chapter 12.)

To what extent can war be eliminated? The question of to what extent war can be eliminated completely from international society is taken as the starting point of the discussion which follows. The view which one holds on this question is influenced by one’s

perception of human nature and behaviour and of the importance of such factors as ideologies, cultures/societies and global-level rivalries.