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Volume 4

Expanded Contents | Figures | Tables


1. Perspective And Summary
3. The International Actors
4. International Behavior Space-Time
5. International Expectations And Dispositions
6. International Actor And Situation
7. International Sociocultural Space-Time
8. Interests, Capabilities, And Wills
9. The Social Field Of International Relations
10. Latent International Conflict
11. International Conflict: Trigger, Will, And Preparations
12. The Balancing Of Power
13. Comparative Dynamics Of International Conflict
14. Introduction To Propositions And Evidence On International Conflict
15. Empirical Dynamics Of International Conflict
16. Causes And Conditions Of International Conflict And War
17. Ending Conflict And War: The Balance Of Powers
18. The International Conflict Helix
19. Theoretical And Empirical Conclusions On Conflict And War
20. Principles Of Peace And Conflict


15A. Phasing Propositions and Their Evidence on International Conflict
16A. On Causes of International Conflict
16B. Propositions and Their Evidence on the Causes and Conditions of International Conflict Behavior
16C. Evidence on the Causes and Conditions of International Conflict Behavior
17A. Propositions and Evidence on the Causes and Conditions of Ending International Conflict Behavior
18A. Descriptive Propositions on International Conflict
19A. Overall Evidence on 54 Social Field Propositions on International Conflict
19B. Primary Propositions on Social Conflict
I. Unpublished Research and Results on International Relations
II. Event Data: Bases of Empirical Conflict Analysis
III. Characteristics of Published Quantitative International Relations Studies

Other Volumes

Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field
Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix
Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective
Vol. 5: The Just Peace

Other Related Work

Conflict And Violence page

Democratic Peace page


Chapter 2

International Relations*

By R.J. Rummel

At bottom, principle is not a finished product that can be grasped. It is invisible. The details and order of material force is a principle that is visible. Therefore, the first time there is any principle is when it is seen in material force. After principles have thus been found, they of course appear to become tendencies.
---- Wang Fu-chih, Chuan-shan i-shu, 1619-1692

International relations, world politics, transnational relations, global society. This sphere of diplomacy and war, treaties and alliances, aid and trade, migration and tourists. This arena of empires, international organizations, states, nations, governments, groups and individuals. This greatest human theater. What is its essence?

First, international relations compose our largest society.1 Since the Age of Colonization in the eighteenth century, international relations have encompassed the globe. There is or are now:

  • a worldwide system of communication regulated by international organizations (such as the Universal Postal Union, International Telecommunication Union, and Intergovernmental Copyright Committee), involving mail, telegrams, radio, television, newspapers, periodicals, and books;
  • a global transportation system involving international shipping lines, and especially, the airlines regulated by the International Civil Aviation Organization;
  • an extensive worldwide trade and division of labor, with states and multinational corporations specializing in extractive industries, forestry, fishing, food crops, or manufacturing;
  • international social norms that frame the variety of interaction among states and international groups, some of which have the status of international law;
  • a stratification system recognized by all and dividing states into those with wealth, power or prestige, and those without;2
  • a culture, of which the dominant language is English, with norms emphasizing the sovereignty, independence and equality of states, and valuing truth,4 education and knowledge, development, and government intervention, regulation, and planning5; and opposing genocide, military aggression, colonialism, and racism.

International society is riven and, in Simmel's (1955) useful expression, "sewn together" by cross-cutting conflicts.6 In my terms, this society is a moving complex of overlapping and nested structures and situations of conflict, power balancing, balances of powers, and structures of expectations. The keynote is change, alteration, transformation, and the mechanism and manifestation of this is conflict behavior.

As do all societies, international society has two faces. One is of conflict, change, a struggle and dialectic of power. The other is equilibrium, societal norms and structures which at any one point in time appear to describe society. Indeed, without a process or conflict view of international society, the normal state of affairs is stability, of functions maintaining the system and adjusting individuals to it. Indeed, within this snapshot view international conflict appears deviant, an aberration of the system. Consensus and equilibrium rather than conflict would be the defining characteristics of the society.7

This perspective, so rightly identified with Talcott Parsons' later work (1958) for societies in general, appears at first to contradict the conflict view of international relations. However, consider the equilibrium perspective to be, essentially, that international society comprises a system of meanings, values and norms that

  • comprise member's socialization,
  • regulate member's behavior,
  • define a relatively persistent equilibrium among member's needs and interests, and
  • at the core is a causal-functional (integrated) unity.
Then international society also can be seen as changing configurations of power and balancing: a conflict helix.

Now, international actors are continuously entering into new power balances, behaving within existing structures of expectations undergirded by previous balances. These structures exist at different levels of specificity and formalization. Some may be merely intuitive and even unconscious understandings between actors, such as between leaders, diplomats, or international businessmen. As such structures exist through time they can become increasingly crystallized, to develop a rule-inertia, which is the sociological counterpart of habit at the psychological level. Nonetheless, these structures remain informal-personal understandings between individuals.8

In international relations, many structures of expectations are formalized, involving written agreements, contracts, or treaties defining the rights and obligations of cosigners. Some structures of expectations (like the UN Charter) formalize law norms, which define the membership in the structure, the rights and obligations of members, and authoritative roles (positions). Authoritative roles are those that within the structure of expectations carry the right to give certain commands for their incumbents and the obligation to obey for the other members. They carry the right to punish disobedience. In the development of law norms and authoritative roles evolves the sociological group. In international society the state is one such group. An international organization is another.

The multitude of groups in society display concretely the major expectations ordering individuals. They show how structures can be nested (a state is in UNESCO which is part of the UN), independent (such as the Catholic church and ASEAN) or overlap (such as NATO and the EEC). But it should be clear that a particular group is simply a phase in the eternal process of social balancing, albeit of longer duration than less formal structures of expectations. An international group represents but a certain formalization of the balance of interests, capabilities, and wills of members.

In this sense, an international group is a point of equilibrium, a balance of values and norms. Without a knowledge of the prior conflict process or the possible future disruption, a group such as Ethiopia, the Arab League, or the Warsaw Pact may appear stable. Consensus and functional maintenance will appear the case, as indeed it is if one views a group's history only through the existing, formalized structure of expectations. But as within states, where such groups as families end in divorce, churches dissolve in schism, and corporations are destroyed, states, international organizations, and the largest of all social groups, the international system, undergo disruption and revolutionary change. But, on the other hand, to focus on the becoming, on the conflict or disruption, is to ignore the periods of order, of regularity, of harmony and consensus identified with a tolerable balance of powers.

International society is then a particular configuration of balances, of structures of informal and formalized expectations, to be sure. But so is a dump a configuration of objects, and a sand pile a configuration of sand grains. There is more to international society than a heap of balances.

A society at any one time is itself a balance, whether we talk of society as the city, province, state, or international system. International society is that balance which formally confers legitimacy on the diverse structures of expectations which comprise it. It is a complex of informal (e.g., one should not lie or aggress) and formal (e.g., treaties) expectations, involving both general social norms and the official law. It has a defined membership (e.g., states), law norms delimiting rights (e.g., sovereignty) and obligations (as defined in system wide multilateral treaties, like the UN Charter), and authoritative roles (the Secretary-General of the United Nations; the five permanent members of the Security Council).

Second, international relations form an exchange society. It is dominated by bargaining power: international trade, treaties, agreements, tourist and student movements, migration, technical aid, capital flows, exchange rates, and so on. All these activities usually manifest some individual, group, or state giving up something they value for something else they want more.

This is not to deny the role of coercion in international society, as in Kissinger's attempt to achieve a lasting Middle East peace in 1974 by threatening to withdraw American aid to Israel if she did not come to terms with Egypt; or the use of state power by the Oil Producing Exporting Countries to establish a cartel and force oil prices many times above the international free market value; or the forced expropriation or nationalization of multinational corporations, as in Chile's 1971 takeover of Kennecott, Anaconda, Cerro, Ford and ITT. Nor is it to deny that whole regions are dominated by coercion, as in Eastern Europe within the Warsaw Pact and Council for Economic Mutual Aid (COMECON or CEMA).9

It is to say that of all powers--coercive, authoritative, bargaining, intellectual, altruistic, and manipulative--international and transnational social interactions are governed more by bargaining power establishing an exchange relationship.10

In this international exchange society, states are generally free to pursue their own interests; social behavior is normally cooperative and contractual.11 Rewards and promises are the basis of the society. Treaties, commercial contracts, and written agreements provide its explicit framework.

Third, international society is governed by a libertarian political system. States are by international law guaranteed the rights of sovereignty, independence, and equality which take precedence over and limit world government. But however limited there is world government. The United Nations is its executive and legislative core; the International Court of Justice is its judiciary; and the various international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Meteorological Organization, are its administrative structure. Sanctions are applied, as when the Security Council voted action against the North Koreans' aggression in 1950 and mandatory economic sanctions against the Southern Rhodesian white government after it declared its independence from Britain in 1965;12 and international military forces are used, as in the peace-keeping operations in Cyprus since 1964, the Congo (1960-1964), and Middle East since 1975. Decision-making is often by consensus, but decisions may even be made by majority vote as in the all-member assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization; and important decisions by the upper chamber of the world legislature (the Security Council) require the concurrence of the five Big Powers.

This is a confederation, the weakest form of federation, in which each constituent-member state retains sovereignty and a monopoly of force is denied the central government. Its functions are janitorial, meeting international crises when called upon by states; resolving international conflicts when requested; providing judicial judgments upon appeal; and above all, through the network of international governmental and nonintergovernmental organizations, providing an administrative structure for international transactions among states, groups, and individuals.

This world political system has four aspects. One is that it is a system open to participation by all states on equal terms. It is politically competitive, and political parties (blocs, such as NATO) are free to form and contest for dominance. The legislative-judiciary functions of the government are ordinarily closed to groups other than states, however, and to individuals, but the administrative network includes not only international organizations for states, but those for nongovernmental groups and individuals as well.13 There are no elite states, groups or individuals that control this international government, that dictate to the world society, and that are insulated from global political competition and contests for power.

A second aspect of the political system is its nonintervention in the world society. Transactions are carried on among states, groups and individuals without coercive control or regulation by the world government. Attempts to intervene more, especially on behalf of the Third World, are now underway, as in the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea meetings (one aim of which is to internationally govern the mining of resources underlying the world's oceans).

The noninterventive character of world government can be seen easily in comparison to the role governments play within states. On the global level, states, multinational corporations, international churches, professional groups, and individuals pursue their interests without the governmental interference that can be seen within all contemporary states.14

A third aspect of world government is that its laws are normative, rather than positivist. International law is limited to custom, precedent, and established principles and rights. The way states behave and the norms that have arisen out of their interaction govern the society. To be sure, positivist rules and regulations exist, but as administrative details to fill in the broad laws which are the basis of world government.

The final aspect concerns the past, present, or future orientation of the world government. Generally, the government (in the totality of its functions) acts neither to maintain the traditions of international society; nor to mobilize the society towards, or reconstruct it in the light of, some future image. Rather, world government reflects and represents through its various organs immediate global and national interests. Neither past nor future-oriented, it mirrors current interests as long as they do not conflict with traditional rights and principles (such as the equality of states).15

Considering this government, the dominant exchange power, and international behavior, then, international relations are an exchange society with a libertarian political system. This is the essence of international relations.

Other ways of characterizing international relations have been suggested. Raymond Aron concluded in his book Peace and War that the "distinctive nature" of international relations "lay in the legitimacy or legality of the use of military force. In superior civilizations, these are the only social relationships in which violence is considered normal."16 This is a customary view: international relations is seen as a realm of violence, of war, in contrast to state-societies which are perceived peaceful, where the use of violence is abnormal and illegitimate.

But this focus on legitimate violence does not distinguish international relations. Through their police, military, and security forces, state governments employ legitimate violence against internal criminals, insurrections, banditry, terrorism, revolution, and so on. Some urban societies within states are in a perpetual condition of violence, as between rival gangs, residents and police; and the expectation of burglary and muggings; is high.17 Moreover, some state-societies are governed by terror and repression, where arrests, beatings, and torture, and possibly death at the hands of the government is a constant threat. Such societies are ruled by violence, as was Haiti under Duvalier, and the Soviet Union under Stalin, and Cambodia in 1975-1978 under the Khmer Rouge. Indeed, consider the violence against the Jews within Hitler's Germany.

The crucial term here is "legitimacy." What is legitimate is what people generally think is right or proper, or more formally, what corresponds to the legal norms of society. In international relations aggression is generally considered illegitimate (witness the attempts on the part of all aggressors to label the victim as the aggressor), even though circumstances may justify a preemptory attack or the use of violence to correct injustice (such as is argued by the black African states in supporting guerrilla warfare against white-ruled Southern Rhodesia and the Union of South Africa; or by Egypt in her 1973 attack on Israel to recover lost territory, precipitating the Yom Kippur War). However, the use of violence by states in their defense or to defeat aggression is certainly legitimate. And this does not differ from state-societies, where the police or military legitimately use violence to prevent crime or rebellion.

It is a question whether rule by violence in totalitarian states is legitimate, however. From the perspective of the rulers, violence is legitimate if it maintains control and state security; from the perspective of their constitution, if they have one as in the Soviet Union, such violence may be illegitimate; from the perspective of the ruled also, such violence may be illegitimate, even though there may be some suffering repressive violence who believe it right and proper, but misdirected in their case.18

Both within and between states, the legitimacy of violence is a matter of whose ox is gored and the outcome. Had the United States won in Vietnam, the war probably would have been seen eventually by Americans and their allies as legitimate, justified by the foreign policy of Containment,19 the Truman Doctrine,20 and the SEATO Treaty.21 The Vietnam war is now considered an illegitimate use of violence by many Americans.22 In China, however, the deaths of millions of Chinese from communist violence in imposing and maintaining Mao's regime in and after 1948 is often considered legitimate.23

Closely related to the characterization of international relations by the legitimacy of violence is its depiction as a state of war. On what this means we could do no better than quote Thomas Hobbes (1958: 106-107):

Hereby it is manifest that, during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war, and such a war as is of every man against every man. For WAR consists not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known; and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the nature of war as it is in the nature of foul weather. For as the nature of foul weather lies not in a shower or two of rain but in an inclination thereto of many days together, so the nature of war consists not in actual fighting but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary.

Because international relations lacks a central government with a monopoly of power (they do, however, have a central government without such a monopoly, as described above) states are insecure. Their protection depends on themselves and what faith they can put in their allies. This insecurity will breed arms for defense. Moreover, each state must itself right injustice done against it. The reliance on self-help,24 the security dilemma,25 that each state faces, creates a constant disposition to violence, a state of war.26

But if we understand that war is a type of social violence and recognize that we are typifying international relations as a state of violence, then obviously this would hardly characterize international relations uniquely. Many states with central governments constitute a state of violence. Stalin's Soviet Union, Duvalier's Haiti, and Cambodia's years under the Khmer Rouge were states of violence: well-known people would disappear, relatives or friends arrested would never be heard from again, and one's background, associations, or an innocent remark could mean years of prison, torture, or execution. The insecurity and paranoia of totalitarian rulers and their desire to control and regulate everything, create a constant disposition to violence against their subjects. Indeed, Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago could well be retitled The State of Violence.

However, a state of violence is not limited to totalitarian systems. Lebanon since 1975 and Ethiopia since 1976 have been in a state of violence; Burma with its numerous guerrilla bands and factions is in a state of violence, as was Colombia between 1946 and 1957 with its bloody, large-scale disorder (this "La Violencia" may have caused 150,000 to 200,000 deaths). Even in the United States, in many urban neighborhoods people must barricade their homes or apartments at night, cannot safely walk the street after dark, and even during the day are afraid to go out alone. In these countries or areas violence was or is an expectation and a disposition.

On the other side of the coin, not all international relations are a state of violence. Among Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland there is simply no expectation of nor disposition to violence. Problems arise in their relations, conflicts do occur, but none prepares for or entertains the possibility of violence against the other. Similarly between most countries of the world.

Indeed, the expectation of and disposition to violence between states is limited to very few bilateral relations, the most important of which are the United States and USSR, USSR and China, Israel and her Arab neighbors, NATO and the Warsaw Pact, North and South Korea, India and Pakistan, Thailand and her communist neighbors, Vietnam and both Cambodia and China, Greece and Turkey, Ethiopia and Somalia, and both the Union of South Africa and Southern Rhodesia versus the black African states. In a world of over 8,000 pairs of states, this propensity to violence is remarkably limited.27 In fact, because of the greater extent of transactions between nations and their contractual relations, international relations could better be characterized as a state of peace. This, especially in contrast to many states.28

F.S. Northedge and M.D. Donelan published a study (1971) of 50 international disputes occurring between 1945 and 1970, such as those within or over Greece (1944-1949), Austria (1945-1955), Berlin (1948-1949), Korea (1947-1953) and Vietnam (1954-1970). These disputes were divided into those within states and those between. One observation they make about such disputes is relevant here.

In contrast [to those within states] , the disputes between states were much less marked by violence. To judge this, let us recapitulate them by loose titles: the German question; Austria 1945-55; Poland 1944-45; the United States and Cuba; the Cuba missile dispute; Mauritania and Morocco; Kuwait and Iraq; Indonesia and Malaysia; the Somalia borders; Trieste; Kashmir; Goa; West Irian; Anglo-Icelandic Fisheries; Sino-Indian Border; Algeria and Morocco; the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company; the Suez Canal; the Panama Canal.

Two of these disputes, the German question and the Cuba missiles dispute, raised grave dangers to the world in that the great powers were directly involved. Some in which they were indirectly involved raised considerable danger. Many included some form of breach of relations. Some led to fighting. But, on the whole, the remarkable feature of these disputes, for all the drama, bitterness, disruption and waste that they caused, was how little bloodshed was suffered and how little physical damage the antagonists did to each other or even sought to do.
---- Northedge and Donelan, 1971:145

To characterize international relations as a state of war, however, is often to mean that, in John Locke's words (1955: 14), "Men living together according to reason, without a common superior on earth with authority to judge between them is properly the state of nature."

The state. of nature was a favorite concept of Hobbes, and other social contract theorists. It was a tool for understanding international relations used by the early international lawyers, such as Emmerich de Vattel, who (in his "Introduction" to his The Law of Nations) argued that: "Since Nations are composed of men who are by nature free and independent, and who before the establishment of civil society lived together in the state of nature, such Nations or sovereign States must be regarded as so many free persons living together in the state of nature." From this state of nature de Vattel concluded that states must be absolutely free and independent.

For the social contract theorists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, and Rousseau),29 the state was formed by agreement among its first subjects and for specific purposes. The existence of humankind was believed logically prior to and above the state. It was therefore possible to contrast its hypothetical prepolitical life to the subsequent advantages and disadvantages of the state.

The time when no state existed was called a state of nature, and at the two extremes, this period was either a propertyless anarchy, a law of the jungle, of Hobbes' "the war of all against all" requiring the absolute state--the leviathan for everyone's security. Or, as for Rousseau, the state of nature was one of innocence in which human relations were governed by family attachments and not a state of war. But vices existed and people then mistakenly formed the state to protect themselves, and thus created a tool of greed and power. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the view of primitive society moved from hypothesis and speculation to solid knowledge. Anthropology became a recognized discipline, and the fiction of a state of nature lost appeal.30 That is, except in describing international relations.

Many believe international relations to be in a state of nature: the relations between states are seen as though states were so many people living in a condition of anarchy, where each preys on the other and life is brutish and short. Hobbes' perspective dominates. Each state is presumed to be insecure, all in a state of war, violence is the norm, and individual morality is alien to that of states.31 Coercive power is therefore supposed the regulator of international relations and diplomacy and war, its two faces. And therefor, a world state, a global leviathan, is thought necessary to provide security and prevent violence. Many do not recognize that this state of nature is a fiction.

Related to the belief in an international state of nature is the view of international relations as chaotic. For example, Stanley Hoffmann sees international relations as distinctly the realm of uncertainty, and makes much of this in his own work:

LET US IMAGINE a large gambling place. Around a large roulette table stand players of all sizes and all ages. Behind them are their families. Depending on the stakes, and on the fancies of the roulette ball, the families' fortunes increase or collapse. Sometimes one player dominates, sometimes the struggle focuses on two main rivals, sometimes a great number of players share the bulk of the gains. Occasionally, the accidents of the game do not simply ruin a family but kill it. But the game never stops.

Such are international relations. They are features, par excellence, of the realm of uncertainty
----1965: 134.

Now, clearly, statesmen find the future essentially unpredictable,32 they believe themselves governed by the "chain of circumstance," as Sir Harold Nicolson pointed out (quoted in Sprout and Sprout, 1962: 108-109), and that as Frederick the Great wrote, "uncertainty, although every time appearing in a different form, holds sway in all the operations of foreign policy, so that in the case of great alliances the result is the very opposite of what was planned." (quoted in Hinsley, 1963: 181-182)

But as with violence, this unpredictability only covers certain relations for particular times. Much of international relations comprises clear expectations, high predictability, strong patterns. Conditions and patterns of trade, tourist regulations and flows, communications and transportation, diplomatic rules and principles, alliances and even the behavior that would cause a war, are known. We could hardly travel to another country or have transactions were it otherwise. And does anyone doubt that at least local war and possibly World War III would have followed American tanks knocking down the Berlin Wall or the Soviet Union again secretly trying to implant intermediate and medium range nuclear missiles in Cuba.33

On the other hand, the predictability of internal (domestic) affairs is less than assumed and not much different than international relations.34 Was Watergate predictable? The presidential nomination of Jimmy Carter by the Democrats?33a Clearly, however, societies are integrated by virtue of mutually reliable expectations--what I call a structure of expectations--that provides order and stability. But in comparison to international relations, this order is often overstressed and the unpredictability forgotten.

No, international relations are not anymore chaotic than affairs within states. They are not anarchic. They are not normless, ruleless, nor lawless. They are not a state of war and violence is not the norm. States are not universally insecure. And coercive power is not the rule.

Rather, international relations comprise a global society and world culture with a limited government. Relations are generally harmonious, contractual. Bargaining power dominates. Reciprocity is the rule. Antagonism, conflicts, and violence exist, but in general are less in intensity than can be expected within many states. The "wonder is, not that nation-states conflict, but that they do not conflict more often and more violently than they do." (Northedge and Donelan, 1971) International relations conform more to Rousseau's than Hobbes' state of nature.35 In summary, then, the essence of international relations is an exchange society based mainly on bargaining power and with a limited, libertarian political system. International relations therefore is a social field, and it is to the clarification of this that I now will turn to in Chapter 3. 


* Scanned from Chapter 2 in R.J. Rummel, War, Power, Peace, 1979. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.

1. The nature and types of societies are analyzed in Chapter 30 of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix, and supporting evidence is given in Chapter 34 of the same volume.

2. Social stratification and status, especially as relevant to international relations, are analyzed in Section 21.3 of Chapter 21 in Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix, and in Chapters 17 and 18 of the same volume.

3. Omitted.

4. All cultural systems share an emphasis on truth as a value, although they may differ in basing truth on revelation, intuition, reason, or experience. Even those political systems in which truth is systematically distorted to some end will give lip-service to truth and admit its value, as in charging opponents with being liars. On the different cultural bases of truth, see Sorokin (1957), especially Chapters 13 and 14. For an informed and persuasive philosophical attempt to establish five universal postulates of justice, the first of which is truth, see Brecht (1959: Chapter X).

5. Among intellectuals and government leaders today, there is a pervasive faith in socialist methods and principles, even in the United States. Dominant is a belief in government controls, coercive regulations, planning, and economic and social intervention, services, welfare, and subsidies. Among international elites there appears little disagreement over the need for such intervention and control; the disagreement is over the desirable extent and completeness of such control, with communist systems at one end, India and Sri Lanka-type socialism in the middle, and the American, West German, and Swiss mixed, free-market-socialism, at the other end.

6. For a good coverage and clarification of Simmel's contribution to our understanding of social conflict, see Coser (1956).

7. There is an important intellectual division on this point. Students of international relations emphasize conflict, power, confrontation. A "balance of power" is the major organizing framework for understanding and explaining international behavior. As one whose doctoral work was in this field, my "feel" for international relations is violated by defining it in consensus or equilibrium-of-values terms. It is natural for students of international relations to take conflict as the starting point: a conflict model of the international society dominates.

However, for state-societies, the consensus or equilibrium-of-values perspective on society prevails, at least in the United States. Marxism, neo-Marxism, and non-Marxist conflict models have made inroads on this, but the influence of Talcott Parson's (1958) system approach is still strong. Conflict is still seen as deviant.

It is the strength of this consensus model which probably explains why so many nonstudents of international relations, whose perspective is shaped by a view of society as consensual, see the fundamental explanation of international conflict to be the lack of a strong world government. After all, in this perspective, state-societies are consensual and conflict is unusual, while international relations appears riven by violence. The major difference between these consensual societies and international relations is then believed to be the existence of a strong government. It follows in this view that a world government would create a lasting international peace.

In a conflict view of state-societies, however, where an equilibrium-in-values is seen undergirded by a balance of powers between domestic groups and individuals, a strong world government could only institutionalize a particular balance of powers and involve more global violence than yet seen in order to consolidate a decisive monopoly of force. And once institutionalized, it could well collapse through international revolution, civil war, or guerrilla warfare. Or, if authoritarian in structure, it might commit genocide, or murder political opponents or undesirables, as so many authoritarian governments have done.

8. I am not ruling out informal structures of expectations between groups. In my view, such structures always involve individuals, whether acting authoritatively for a group or on their own behalf. Thus, an informal structure of expectations between China and the United States would be between particular leaders.

9. Of course, neither is this to say that bargaining power does not play a role, as in the resistance of East European nations to becoming economically integrated with the Soviet Union and to sacrificing their own economies, as with Rumania, in order to provide raw materials to other COMECON members. Again, I am referring to a dominant and not exclusive power.

10. For my analysis of these forms of social power, see Chapters 19, 20, and 21 of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix.

The ability to bargain is dependent on the resources available to a state. Two empirical dimensions of states measure this ability: their wealth (GNP per capita, energy consumption per capita, telephones per capita, and the like), and their absolute resources (national income, raw resources, energy production, and such). Both of these have been found as primary wealth and (national) power dimensions of states (see Section 7.1 of Chapter 7 and Rummel, 1972). The sheer magnitude of nonconflictful participation of states in the international system is largely a function of these two dimensions (Rummel, 1972, Chapter 13). Moreover, their behavior towards each other is also largely a function of both these dimensions (Appendix 9A).

However, the elements of the (national) power dimension, which also include defense expenditures, are also a base for coercive power. Thus, this same dimension underlies bargaining behavior (along with wealth) and coercive conflict behavior. This is a fundamental ambiguity in the resources of power, where the same resources, such as energy production, can be used both to bargain and to threaten (as the oil producing Arab states did in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war).

There may be another source of confusion here. In Part V of this Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace, I emphasize the role of coercion in conflict and Primary Proposition 19.2 in Chapter 19 (Appendix 19A) is that power shapes conflict. Now, the form of power (bargaining, coercive, authoritative) shapes society and the form of conflict it has. And in interstate conflict behavior, coercive power plays the major role. But to assert this in no way contradicts the conclusions that international relations is an exchange society based on bargaining power (no more than the use of coercion in labor-management conflicts or in conflicts between corporations contradicts the statement that the free market is based on bargaining power). Compared to the variety and volume of international behavior, conflict behavior is a small region of international behavior space (see note 11, below).

11. For years I had coded daily the reporting in the New York Times of any conflict event (threat, warning, boycott, expulsion of diplomats, border clash, and so on) between any two states. The number of such events was small in comparison to the continuous flow of cooperative behavior between nations, of which trade was only one manifestation.

For example, for 1963, I recorded in total nearly 3,000 international conflict acts for 275 out of 5,671 pairs of sovereign states then existing (Hall and Rummel, 1970). Yet, virtually all these 5,671 pairs had some kind of cooperative interaction during this period, involving at least their delegates to the United Nations and various other international organizations and, for most pairs, trade, communications, tourists, and intergovernmental conferences and discussions.

More specifically, and focusing only on events (ignoring cooperative flows and structures, as defined in Appendix II) for example, McGowan (1973) found among 14,500 events for 32 black African states (1946-1966) that cooperation comprised 35.2%, participation was 47.1%, and conflict involved 17.7%. For 5,500 events for 1966 for all states, McClelland and Hoggard (1969) found that 33% were cooperative, 35.5% participation, 31.5% conflict. And Hermann (1975) found that for 35 states, 1959-1968, and 11,589 events, 12% were neutral or friendly deeds of one to another, against 3% found hostile.

[Added in 1998: However, what says it all is this simple statistic: over four times as many people have been murdered in cold blood by governments, the vast majority citizens, than have been killed in combat in all the foreign wars in this century. See Chapter 1 of my Death By Government]

These data on conflict occurrences and violence contradicts the perception that international relations is an arena of conflicts, a society riven by disagreements, contention, tension, and war. This perception is no doubt partly due to the daily news emphasizing international conflict and, especially, focusing in depth on international violence wherever it occurs. The constant pulse of cooperative interaction between states is background, recorded in international statistics and documents, only occasionally to be manifested in the news as a new agreement or contract signed, a state visit, an international conference, or a diplomatic party. [Added in 1998: Moreover, the sometimes continuous domestic genocide and mass murder of authoritarian or totalitarian governments is also ignored, except when it reaches a shocking level, as recently it did in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Burundi.]

On the predominantly cooperative nature of modern foreign policies, see Morse (1970).

12. On the effectiveness of such economic sanctions, see Galtung (1967).

13. The hundreds of nonintergovernmental international organizations are listed and described in the Yearbook of International Organizations. For a useful and informative study of the growth in international organizations, see Angell (1969).

14. This may seem contrary to fact. Surely, just to mention a few examples, international airline standards for personnel licensing and rules of the air are determined by the International Civil Aviation Organization, basic postal rates for foreign mail are established by the Universal Postal Union, and international health regulations to control yellow fever, plague, cholera, and smallpox are determined by the World Health Organization. However, it must be realized that these regulations are established among the states themselves by mutual agreement; they are self-regulations. They do not constitute governmental intervention, which would be distinguished by regulations or laws backed by sanctions and with which the subjects may not agree and in which they have had no hand in making. The distinction is between voluntary and coercive regulations.

Another source of confusion is over regulations governing, say, multinational corporations. The states may establish them by mutual agreement over the opposition of the corporations themselves. This would clearly comprise intervention in the interaction among international groups, although not states. An example of such intervention are those state-level agreements governing the international economic system, like the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

15. The four aspects distinguishing the international libertarian political system are developed in Chapter 31 of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix.

16. This is Aron's assessment of his own work. See Aron (1967:190-191).

17. Just consider the insecurity of the elderly in American cities.

When they go out--if they go out--they listen anxiously for the sound of footsteps hurrying near, and they eye every approaching stranger with suspicion. As they walk, some may clutch a police whistle in their hands. More often, especially after the sun sets, they stay at home, their world reduced to the confines of apartments that they turn into fortresses with locks and bars on every window and door. They are the elderly who live in the slums of the nation's major cities.
----Time, November 29, 1976, p. 21, italics omitted

In New York, two 16-year-old step-brothers allegedly tried to rape a 75-year-old woman after robbing her (her screams brought help and the youths fled). In Detroit, an 80-year-old woman was jumped in a supermarket parking lot by three youths. When she clung to her purse, they shot her in the face. And the New York couple who committed suicide, Hans Kable, 78, and his wife, Emma, 76, were driven to it by young thugs who repeatedly stabbed Emma Kable in the face with a kitchen fork, demanding money that she did not have.

Those who survive are increasingly reclusive. 'We find some of them almost starved to death,' said New York City detective Donald Gaffney. 'They're afraid to leave their apartment after a robbery and won't even go to the supermarket.' Some band together for protection, moving in huddled groups and gathering in social clubs--but they are the courageous minority.
----Newsweek, November 29, 1976, p. 39

18. Many communists executed in Stalin's purges of the 1930s felt that the communist party was doing the right thing, although a mistake was being made regarding them personally. Some even aided the purge by giving confessions they knew to be wrong in order not to hurt the communist cause. See Conquest (1968).

Of course, the vast Soviet concentration camp system contained among its many victims communists who even in their suffering thought the system justified. See Solzhenitsyn (1973-1975).

[Added in 1998: On the overall death toll of the Soviet system, see Chapter 1 in my Lethal Politics.]

19. This was the American foreign policy of containing communism to the territorial limits it had reached as of 1949. Castro's successful communist revolution in Cuba breached this limit, but after the disastrous U.S. sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 Cuba was tolerated as an aberration. Containment was transformed into President Nixon's "Structure of Peace" in 1969 and relabeled dओtente in the early 1970s.

20. The Truman Doctrine, first enunciated by President Truman before a joint session of Congress on March 12, 1947, expressed the policy of helping free people anywhere threatened by communist aggression. After two decades, in what became known as the Nixon Doctrine, this policy was limited to helping only those who would help themselves. Both the revision of containment and of the Truman Doctrine were influenced by the American inability to win in Vietnam or even achieve the type of status quo, ante bellum resolution that concluded the Korean War.

21. This was the South East Asian Treaty Organization Treaty, signed in 1954 by Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and ratified in 1955. South Vietnam was included by the parties through a protocol appended to the Treaty.

22. This judgment may change as the cost to the people in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam of the communist victory eventually is taken into account. [As of 1998, it has not in spite of the millions who have been killed in these countries after the victory of North Vietnam in 1975--see, for example, Chapters 4 and 6 of my Statistics of Democide].

23. [Added in 1998: the number murdered by the communists in China, excluding the Great Famine of the later 1950s and early 1960s, is about 35,000,000. See my China's Bloody Century]


International politics as a branch of political science has therefore assumed: (a) sovereign, territorial states with conflicting policies exist in contact with one another, (b) the major value of each is its own continuous, independent, existence, (c) the only reliable means available to maintain this value is self-help supported by military power and alliances.
----Wright, 1955: 137; italics added

25. Glenn Snyder (1971: 73-74) raises the security dilemma concept to the status of a theory:

This theory has a venerable history, beginning at least as early as Hobbes and elaborated in the modern international context by John Herz .... Kenneth Waltz. . . , Herbert Butterfield .... Arnold Wolfers .... and others. The dilemma is said to arise inevitably out of the fundamental structure of the international system--a "state of nature," or a system of decentralized power and multiple sovereignties. Lacking any powerful central authority which can regulate conflict, states are under continual apprehension of attack by other states, and their relations assume the character of a continuous struggle for security in the shadow of war. The dilemma arises because states can never be sure that the security measures of others are intended only for security and not for aggression. Consequently, each state's effort to gain security through power accumulation do tend to increase the insecurity of other states, stimulating them to enhance their power, which then leads to further apprehension and power accumulation by the first states, and so on. Thus, the very existence of states in a condition of anarchy produces a competition for security which is objectively 'unnecessary' and ultimately futile.

John Herz (1959) makes the security (and power) dilemma "a fundamental condition which underlies all social and political phenomena.... Politically active groups and individuals are concerned about their security from being attacked, subjected, dominated, or annihilated by other groups and individuals. Because they strive to attain security from such attack, and yet can never feel entirely secure in a world of competing units, they are driven toward acquiring more and more power for themselves, in order to escape the impact of the superior power of others."

26. For a contemporary treatment of international relations from this perspective see Hoffmann (1965), who in fact titles his work The State of War.

27. At the empirical level, overt conflict should reflect the disposition to violence. Yet, we find a small proportion of states manifesting conflict. For example, in 1963, only 4.8% of all pairs of nations showed foreign conflict behavior of any type. See note 11.

28. One statistical analysis (R.P. Richardson, 1966) of 380 conflicts, 1946-1964, found 57 of them were between nations. Of those involving over 100,000 killed, four were guerilla wars, one a limited war; of those involving 10,000-100,000 killed, one was an insurrection, two were guerilla wars, and one was a civil war. Kende (1971) examined 97 wars, 1945-1969, and found only 15 were international (fought across frontiers). Denton (1969: 22) systematically analyzed wars between 1750 and 1960, and concluded "that international violence does not constitute a major portion of organized conflict." Of all pairs of belligerents during this period, 35% were sovereign states opposing each other.

29. On the contract theorists, see Gough (1957) and Barker (1958).

30. A contract theory can be entirely hypothetical, analyzing political arrangements as though government is subservient to us and implied agreements exist. These assumed agreements can then be used to contrast existing government against what ought to be. This is an effective approach in the natural law, human rights tradition. For a current philosophical example, see Rawls (1971). I will use this approach to defining the principles of social justice in Vol. 5: The Just Peace.

31. Not only is it asserted that the morality applied within states does not apply between, but it is argued that this ought to be the case. Morgenthau (1962: 854), for example, asserts that: "A foreign policy derived from the national interest is in fact morally superior to a foreign policy inspired by universal moral principles."

The reader is entitled to know my moral "biases" from the beginning. I believe the same morality that applies between individuals must apply to groups, governments, and states. The theory of dual morality--what is immoral for citizens may be moral for governments and states--has been an excuse for the excesses of state power in the service of some higher presumed good, such as development, equality, social justice, national security, or national interest. I object to any but the most limited state power, and then balanced and checked in the maintenance of the maximal liberty. And one check that must apply is the common morality. Governments free to define their own morality in the light of their own definition of national interest are not to be trusted. We should sew on our underwear the understanding that power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and [Added in 1998] that power kills.

32. Regarding the lack of program planning in the foreign field, the "essential unpredictability of the future is often used as the principal argument for not planning. A Foreign Service career officer, when asked why the State Department did not put more emphasis on planning, replied, 'How can you plan foreign policy when no one can possibly know what Castro is going to do two years, or even two days, from now?' " (Lindsay, 1965: 130)

33. I tested (Rummel, 1977: Chapter 5) the predictability of international relations by determining if data for 1955 on 56 kinds of behavior between 182 selected and 164 randomly chosen pairs of states would predict their behavior for 1963. The overall correlation between 10,192 predictions and actual behavior for all the selected sample data was .84; for 9,184 predictions of random sample data the correlation was .80. This implies that international behavior is largely predictable. (On the nature of such correlation coefficients, see Understanding Correlation.)

For similar prediction studies of Chinese behavior by Sang-Woo Rhee, and the United States and USSR by Chang-Yoon Choi, see Rummel (1977: Chapters 12 and 14, respectively). See also Chapter 3 (Note 11) and Appendix 9Ain this Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace.

33a.[Added in 1998: As to the greater stability/predictability of domestic affairs in states versus the unpredictability of international relations, just consider the utterly surprising sudden collapse of the USSR as a state, of its totalitarian government, and of its ideology of Marxism-Leninism. Only a semi-democratic Russia remains. This without a destabilizing war, foreign occupation, or a bloody revolution.]

34. In comparing the domestic patterns of states for different years, I got high correlations between predicted and actual similar to those for international relations. See Rummel (1972: Section 10.1) and (Section 3.3 of Appendix I). Although the specific concern was determining the reliability of dimensions I found for 1955, the methodology was the same as that used for predicting international behavior and can be interpreted as an assessment of predictability.

35. The dominant contemporary tendency is to contrast international conflict and war to cooperative relations within states. But this is to ignore national crime, murders, riots, revolts, banditry, terrorism, purges, insecurities, and the like. (See notes 11 and 13). Rather, both harmony and conflict among states must be contrasted to both within.

Scholars and laymen alike who have had a fixation on war and contrast its occurrence and expectations with a perceived harmony within states, have an image and goal of an integrated community--a security community--of states. In this, they have committed a common methodological error: neglecting to compare different cases (international relations versus within-state relations) on the same variables in the same units.

To compound this error, there has also been a shift in framework when moving from within the state to the interstate level. Most students of international relations are trained in diplomatic or political history, or political science. It is natural to see international relations in terms of politics, coercive power, antagonistic conflict, and war. However, most have also been educated in a functional and integrated model of national societies. They see a moral community, a basic culture, regulated by norms and laws; the government serves to assure security and apply reason to maintain and improve the common welfare, regulate the economy, and move society towards a better future. The scholar or social scientist therefore shifts models as he moves from within to between states. Oddly enough, he has realized that psychology applies at both levels and our current international relations literature has woven perception, needs, attitudes, expectations, and the like, into the state-of-nature model. But, there is little recognition that the same sociological and anthropological perspectives on state-societies also apply to international relations.

As seen through my previous volumes (Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field, Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix, and Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective) in this series and this book, I believe the same perspective applies to all societies and groups, whether the family, the church, the corporation, the government, the state-society, or international relations.

For citations see the Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace REFERENCES

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