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War has traditionally been studied as a problem deriving from the relations between states. Strategic doctrines, arms control agreements, and the foundation of international organizations such as the United Nations are designed to prevent wars between states. Since 1945, however, the incidence of interstate war has actually been declining rapidly, while the incidence of internal wars has been increasing. The author argues that in order to understand this significant change in historical patterns, we should jettison many of the analytical devices derived from international relations studies and shift attention to the problems of 'weak' states, those states unable to sustain domestic legitimacy and peace. This book surveys some of the foundations of state legitimacy and demonstrates why many weak states will be the locales of war in the future. Finally, the author asks what the United Nations can do about the problems of weak and failed states.
"The State, War, and the State of War is an is an intelligent and provocative discussion of the most serious international problem of our time. The book is also a pleasure to read. It is written in a clear and graceful style; the arguments are supplemented by relevant real-world examples. It would be an excellent choice as a supplemenatry text for upper level undergraduate or graduate courses. There is also a useful appendix, which lists and categorizes those disputes from 1945 to 1995 that qualify as wars under Holsti's criteria." Russell J. Leng, American Political Review
"...the book provides a nice bridge between old realism and new currents of thinking about war and peace. One must also admire the willingness of senior scholars such as Holsti, who have set the tone for generations of IR teaching and have persistently argued for the durability of realist accounts, to jettison their verities. One hopes that the doors he opens, but does not walk through, will be traversed by others." Keith Krause, Canadian Journal of Political Science
"...well-written exposition of a major current problem in world affairs, with a useful appendix on armed conflicts since 1945 and an exhaustive bibliography. The book will be useful...for some time to come." Paul Rich, Journal of World History
"...This is an unusually coherent and well written expostion of a major current problem in world affairs, with a useful appendix on armed conflicts since 1945 and an exhaustive bibliography." Paul Rich, Journal of World History