chapter  11
Conclusion: International Structure as an Information System
Pages 30

It is interesting to reflect on the relationship of these findings to another major theory of war, in addition to the theories of the balance of power, power transition, long cycle and power cycle considered throughout the volume. This is the expected utility theory of war developed by Bueno de Mesquita (1981b) as an extraordinarily successful systematic approach to the explanation of war, treated as a generic category. In this view, rational calculations of expected gain or loss to the interested powers govern the decision calculus of those who would initiate the conflict. Despite the persuasiveness of the theory, elegance of its formulation, and considerable evidence marshaled in its support, it is not especially relevant to the concerns of this volume. This is simply because, in the approach to the onset of a systemic war in contrast to other types of war (especially dyadic), the structural circumstances of hierarchical relations or their absence, polarities, neutralities, alliances, overlapping disputes, and changes in the balance of power become increasingly important constraints on the degrees of freedom of the decision makers. Whether they are involved in rational calculations of the sort invoked by Bueno de Mesquita and successfully applied to the mostly non-systemic cases of his war universe, becomes an increasingly less important question as the strl,lctural constraints develop over time.