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POS 304/404: Great Power Politics 02/22/2006. Course Status: Weekly written assignment due. Paper topic description due - returned next week. Midterm exam review guide distributed. Course Agenda: Website . Discussion question. Readings. Mearsheimer: Chapter 4; Haas Chapter 3.

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POS 304/404: Great Power Politics02/22/2006

  • Course Status:

    • Weekly written assignment due.

    • Paper topic description due - returned next week.

    • Midterm exam review guide distributed.

  • Course Agenda:

    • Website.

    • Discussion question.

    • Readings.

      • Mearsheimer: Chapter 4; Haas Chapter 3.

    • Videos: Limits of Air Power.

      • 1999 Bombing of Kosovo.

      • 1991 Ground Invasion Iraq.


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  • Discussion Question: 02/22/06:

    • Land Powers and the Concert of Europe.

      • Are any of the assertions made in Mearsheimer’s Chapter 4 (“The Primacy of Land Power”) relevant for understanding the conflicts and mutual threat perceptions discussed in Haas Chapter 3? Do any of Haas’ assertions contradict points made by Mearsheimer?


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  • Latent Power and Military Power.

    • Power is fungible/convertible.

    • Latent power is “raw potential.”

    • Military power ultima ratio.

    • Competitor Powers pay attention to both military and latent/potential power.

      • Forecasting future competitors.

      • PRC current example, Soviet Union past.

    • Measures of power.

      • Mearsheimer - wealth and population.

      • Different indicators for both latent and military power.

    • Examples of “measurement” projects, power and conflict.

      • EUGene.

      • Center for Systemic Peace and University of Maryland Projects.


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  • Power vs. Outcomes.

    • Outcomes not always predicted by power differentials.

    • Actual balance of power difficult to determine before conflict initiation.

      • Information Asymmetries and Miscalculations.

    • Non-material factors overwhelm power differentials.

    • Power and outcomes must be analytically separated otherwise tautology - no difference between means and ends.


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  • Population and Wealth.

    • Population necessary condition for achieving great power.

      • Population size, health, education level, ethno-linguistic diversity.

    • Mearsheimer collapses population into “wealth” measure.

    • Wealth that is “mobilizable.”

      • Great powers must have infrastructure, or ability to rapidly reconfigure infrastructure, for war fighting.

    • GNP is problematic.

      • Complexity of comparing GNP of different states.


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  • Mearsheimer’s measures

    • 1816-1960 iron and steel production and energy consumption.

    • 1960 - present GNP.

    • Example of need to have metrics of comparison that are explicitly identified.


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  • Gap between latent and military power.

    • Cold War as example of gap between latent and military power.

    • Alliances based on ideology and not balancing.

      • If balancing always drove structure of international system UK, Japan, etc. would have allied with Soviet Union.

    • Shows limits of realist thinking.

  • Not all wealthy states produce or maintain large militaries.

    • Geostrategic/geopolitical position.

      • United Kingdom and United States as examples.

    • Absence of proximate great power rivals.

      • United States.

    • Military spending viewed as unproductive use of nation resources.

    • Presence of absence of allies.


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  • Regime type and conversion of Wealth to Military Power.

    • Different levels of efficiency in conversion.

    • Soviet Union vs. Germany.

      • Soviet economy better organized for mass production.

      • Central planning legacy.

      • German industrial infrastructure disrupted.

      • Population morale.

  • Differential in Military Forces.

    • Not all militaries configured similarly.

    • Strategic reasons for different configurations.


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  • Democracies and power (latent vs. military).

    • Reiter and Stam Democracies at War (2002 Princeton University Press).

    • Chapter 5: Winning Wars on Factory Floors? The Myth of Democratic Arsenals of Victory.

  • Test of Democratic Peace Arguments.

    • Democracies have won 3/4 of wars since 1815.

    • Democracies more efficient at conversion of wealth to military power?

    • No systematic linkage between democracy and rates of wealth creation.

    • Assumption: Democracies more effective at resource extraction.

    • Historical record does not demonstrate.

    • Democracies do not field more weapons, devote more GNP to military weapons.


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  • Democracies and power (latent vs. military).

  • Democratic states have a lower ceiling for resource extraction than autocracies and totalitarian states.

  • World War II as example:

    • Japan vs. US.

      • 1945 Japanese consumer spending on clothing 1/7 of prewar levels.

      • US consumer expenditures rise by 5%.

    • New evidence shows Nazi war machine more efficient at resource extraction than previously thought.

    • Economic Planning Critical during WWII.

      • No evidence that democracies better at economic planning.


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  • Democracies and power (latent vs. military).

    • Conclusions:

      • Democracies do not have significantly larger economies.

      • Democracies not better extractors.

      • Democracies not better at mobilizing populations.

      • Democracies do not provide military with greater amounts of war material.

      • Democracies do not provide armies with better technologies.

    • Democracies do win.

      • Internal Political Structures impose costs on leaders.

      • Democratic citizenry more motivated and capable of flexible independent initiative.


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  • Hass - 3 Wars of the French Revolution.

    • Ideological differences between rev. France and “old regime” powers effected perception of threat.

    • Internal subversion and conspiracy feared by all powers.

    • Threat sensitivity of status quo regime linked to course of revolution.

    • Initial low threat perception - monarchs (Austria, Prussia, Russia) not initially threatened.

    • British also initially favorable.

    • Chapter 2 - Table 1, p. 61.

    • End of Revolutionary period.

      • Napoleon’s counterrevolution lessens British threat perception.

      • Ideological similarities sometimes mask other dimensions of threat.

      • British underestimate threat.


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  • Hass - Concert of Europe.

    • Concert of Europe 1815-1848 Anomalous.

    • Competing explanations.

      • Realist - post-Napoleonic Wars desire to avoid balancing coalitions.

      • Institutionalist - diplomacy.

      • Learning.

      • Haas.

        • Ideological similarities - differences.

        • Similarities - 1815-1830.

        • Difference - 1830.

        • Britain/France and Prussia/Austria/Russia.

        • Domestic changes in Britain/France drove conflict.


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  • Primacy of Land and the Limits of Air.

    • Land Power dominant form of military power.

    • Army the critical element of military power.

  • “Stopping Power” of Water.

    • Oceans create major barrier to power projection.

  • Theorists/Strategists Mearsheimer Contests.

    • Mahan (US) Ocean.

    • Douhet (Italy) Air.

  • Nuclear Weapons not decisive.

  • Air and Naval Power force multipliers for Army power.

  • Air and Naval Power have distinct advantages but not decisive.


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  • Strategic Bombing.

    • Never led to massive uprising of targeted state.

    • Endurance in face of sustained bombardment.

    • Great Power vs. Great Power Strategic Bombing.

    • Great Power vs. Minor Power Strategic Bombing.

  • Case Study:

    • US NATO Intervention in Kosovo 1999.

    • Video from War in Europe PBS Frontline.

    • Set up:

      • Mounting tensions between Serbia (remnants of FRY) and NATO regarding human rights abuses and support for KLA.

      • March 24, 1999 Bombing begins.

      • Video opens late May 1999 as Clinton and allies begin to mobilize for possible ground invasion.


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  • Case Study:

    • US NATO Intervention in Kosovo 1999.

      • Serbian security forces of 40,000 w/1,500 tanks.

      • Few thousand KLA fighters.

      • Serbians in process of expelling ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.

      • Serbain goal to move 1.3 million ethnic Albanians from Kosovo to alter ethnic make-up of Kosovo permanently.

    • NATO’s Interests.

      • Stability in Southeastern Europe.

      • Human Rights.

      • NATO credibility.

      • Maintain positive relationship with Russia.


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  • Goals (Sec. Def. Cohen):

    • Ensure stability of Eastern Europe by reducing refugee flow out of Balkans.

    • Stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo through application of military force.

    • Maintain NATO’s credibility.

  • Goals (Clark - NATO Supreme Allied Commander).

    • One objective - drive Serbs back to negotiating table.

  • Goals - G-8.

    • Cease-fire.

    • Withdrawal of Serb forces.

    • Deployment of NATO peacekeeping force.

    • Return of refugees.

    • Political settlement.

  • Goals - Clinton.

    • Reverse Serb actions; deter further attack on Kosovars; damage Serbian military.


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  • Results.

    • Milosevic not removed until

      • Loss of election - Fall 2000.

      • Arrested by Serbian government - 2001.

    • Currently on trial.

      • International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

    • US and allied NATO forces still in Kosovo.

  • Evaluation of NATO “effectiveness.”

    • Unclear if bombing accelerated Serbian ethnic cleansing.

    • 38,000 NATO sorties flown but did not significantly degrade NATO forces.

    • Ethnic cleansing continued - estimated 10,000 Albanian Kosovars killed, one million expelled or displaced.

    • May have laid foundation for removal of Milosevic but connection tenuous.


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  • Why did Milosevic pull out of Kosovo?

    • Mistaken assumptions/Miscalculations:

    • 1) NATO not capable of sustaining bombing due to criticism over Serbian civilian casualties and NATO casualties.

      • Counteracted by Serbian ethnic cleansing, absence of NATO casualties.

    • 2) Russia would back Serbia.

      • Yeltsin more concerned with Russian economy.

    • Serbian population “war weary.”

    • NATO attacks on infrastructure amplifies Serbian “war weariness.”

    • NATO bombing would continue.

    • Offered face saving compromise to pull out.


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  • Conclusions about Utility of Strategic Bombing.

    • Strategic bombing alone is not sufficient.

    • Rarely weakens enemy armies.

    • Video 2: Gulf War.

      • Demonstration of the validity of Mearsheimer’s discussion?

  • Reasons for failure.

    • Bombardment never severe enough to cause revolt against government.

    • Decapitation.

      • Difficult to accomplish.

      • Erroneous assumptions about leadership.

      • Need for actionable intelligence.

        • Cases:

          • Assassination of Dudayev.

          • Iraq 2003 “Shock and Awe” - attempted decapitation strike.


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  • Conclusions about Utility of Strategic Bombing.

    • Isolation of leadership.

      • Iraq 2003 “Shock and Awe.”

        • Seems to have disrupted command and control over Iraqi military.

        • Did not disrupt command and control over insurgents.

        • Regime already substantially weakened.


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  • Stopping Power of Water.

    • Logistical challenge.

    • Armies become more mobile with technological revolution.

    • Navies lacked sufficient capacity to carry large numbers of troops.

    • Railroads reinforce advantage of armies.

    • Airplanes do not give advantage to naval forces.

      • Territorial state “huge aircraft carrier.”

      • Naval forces highly vulnerable to land based air assault.

    • Submarines


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  • Amphibious Operations.

    • No case of a great power launching amphibious assault against well defended territory.

    • Cold War - US/UK never planned amphibious assault over channel after hypothetical Soviet invasion.

    • World War II.

      • Italian amphibious operations (mixed results).

      • French amphibious operations.

        • Allied air superiority decisive.

        • Germany involved in two-front war.

        • Vast coastline.

        • US and Allied deception operations.

      • Japan.

        • US Air superiority and two front war.

        • Amphibious assault on Japanese homeland very difficult 1945.


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  • Insular vs. Continental States.

    • Insular States.

      • Attacked over water.

        • United Kingdom.

          • Never invaded.

        • United States.

          • Not invaded since achieving great power status.

    • Continental States.

      • Attacked over land and sea.

        • Russia.

          • Multiple Invasions.

        • France.

          • Multiple invasions.

        • Germany.

          • Multiple invasions - aggressive wars.


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  • Nuclear Weapons.

    • Does not end conventional dimension of military conflict.

    • Superiority difficult to achieve.

      • Soviet/Russian fears of US attempts to develop first strike capability.

        • Star Wars.

      • Renewed fears related to US attempts at nuclear superiority.

        • Research into bunker busting low yield nuclear weapons.

        • Stealth technology.

        • Cyber-warfare and disruption of air defense systems.

    • Possession of Nuclear Weapons does not deter attack.

      • Israel invaded.

      • Pakistan and India repeated confrontation.

    • Conventional balance still critical.


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  • Comparing and Measuring Military Power(1).

    • Land power.

      • Size of opposing armies.

        • Size personnel in army.

        • Quality of training, education, health of soldiers.

        • Number of weapons.

        • Quality of weapons.

        • Organization of weapons and soldiers.

      • Data collection possible but difficult.

    • Air power.

      • Number and capability of aircraft.

      • Air defense systems.

      • Reconnaissance capabilities.

      • Battle management systems.


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  • Conclusions.

    • Armies paramount.

    • Most dangerous states.

      • Continental powers with large armies.

    • Insular states.

      • Unlikely to initiate aggressive wars against other great powers.

    • “most peaceful world… one where all great powers were insular states with survivable nuclear arsenals.”

      • World does not exist.


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  • Morality of War.

    • jus ad bellum (justification for going to war).

    • Jus in bello (just conduct of war).

    • Air campaigns: military necessity, proportionality.


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    • Strategic Bombing Morality.

      • “Myth of Distant Punishment.”

        • Douhet the origin.

        • Based on assumption that strategic bombing would inflict mass psychological casualties.

        • Erroneous linkage between frontline psychological casualties and rear/civilian area psychological casualties.

        • RAND 1949 Study of Germany.

          • No increased incidence of psychological casualties.

          • No erosion of national will during aerial bombardment.

      • Modern Psychological Theory.

        • PTSD - psychological casualties induced by proximate threat - not distant threat posed by strategic bombing.

        • Strategic bombing analogous to other disasters.


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    • Strategic Bombing Morality.

      • Myth of effectiveness of “antiseptic” “remote control” air campaigns.

      • “… about as sound as claiming you can police New York City with cruise missiles.”

      • Strategic Bombing may be illegal vis-à-vis Geneva Convention.

      • ICRC SIrUS research project.

        • Survey of 26,000 war related injuries.

        • Weapons responsible for “superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering” (Geneva Convention).

      • Myth of distant punishment - “psychiatrically unsound, psychologically impotent, strategically counterproductive, morally bankrupt, … soon to be illegal.”


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    • Strategic Bombing Morality.

      • Myth of technological fix.

        • US extensive research projects re:

          • Super Precision Munitions.

            • Precision = reduction of “collateral damage” increased efficiency of weaponry.

            • March 2003. Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal said. "We can achieve much 'shock and awe' by hitting just critical points."

          • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

          • Military Robots?

          • Surveillance, Tactical Strikes, Strategic Bombing.

            • Maxwell Air Force Base Index.

            • Predator.

            • GlobalHawk.

            • DarkStar.

            • StrikeStar (Air Force 2025).


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    • Depleted Uranium.

      • Used extensively in Gulf I, Gulf II, Kosovo.

        • Gulf II - A-10 Warthog Aircraft fired 300,000 rounds.

      • Superdense metal, used in “armor penetrating” munitions.

      • DU has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.

      • DU shells fired from air platforms.

      • Vaporizes on contact.

      • Debate re: radiation and health effects.

      • Example of environmental “fall out” from Great Power/Imperial conflict.

      • “Agent Orange” of 1990s and present?

        • Health effects on military personnel and civilians in conflict areas.

      • BBC Website re: Depleted Uranium.

      • Christian Science Monitor.

      • “War Crime”? Not according to ICTY - rejected investigation of Clinton Admin and NATO.


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    • Decapitation.

      • Difficult to accomplish.

      • Borders on assassination.

      • Erroneous assumptions about leadership.

      • Need for actionable intelligence.

        • Cases:

          • Assassination of Dudayev.

          • Iraq 2003 “Shock and Awe” - attempted decapitation strike.

          • Various US “Predator” Strikes.

    • Isolation of leadership.

      • Iraq 2003 “Shock and Awe.”

        • Seems to have disrupted command and control over Iraqi military.

        • Did not disrupt command and control over insurgents.

        • Regime already substantially weakened.


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    • “Strategies for Survival.”

      • Great Power Goal - Maximization of Power.

        • Regional, not global hegemony, the goal.

          • Global hegemony difficult if not impossible.

        • Wealth maximization.

        • Preponderance of land force.

        • Nuclear superiority.

          • Difficult if not impossible to achieve.

          • US 1945 to early 1950s.

    • Strategies.

      • War, Blackmail, Bait and Bleed, Bloodletting, Balancing, Buck-passing, appeasement, bandwagoning.


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    • Next week.

      • Paper description assignments returned.

    • Discussion Question 03/01/06:

      • Strategies for Survival and Origins of World War II.

        • Mearsheimer profiles a number of “strategies for survival” in Chapter 5. Are any of these “strategies for survival” evident in the behavior of states discussed in Haas Chapter 4, or does ideology overwhelm decisions to select “strategies for survival”?


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