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Defense Economics Essay

5728 words - 23 pages

real-world economics review, issue no. 46

Economics, conflict and war
Fanny Coulomb and J. Paul Dunne
[Uni. Pierre Mendes, France; Uni. of the West of England, UK]
Copyright: Fanny Coulomb and J. Paul Dunne, 2008

Introduction With the end of the Cold War the international security environment changed fundamentally. The removal of the superpower conflict saw an initial wave of hope and cuts in military spending, but it quickly became clear that the world was still a dangerous place, and war and conflict remained endemic in many parts of the world. Conflicts had changed; in general they were intra rather than interstate, and there was a resurgence of interest in the role of economic ...view middle of the document...

This was true of Marxists, but also Institutionalist and Keynesian economists, who in some cases integrated war into their general perspective on the functioning of the capitalist system. The development of nuclear weapons radically changed the international order, with a new balance of power (the balance of terror) and the limitation of international conflicts to peripheral zones. New economic analyses of conflict have then been developed to explain these changes, favoured by the progress in economic techniques. These studies were much focused on strategic concerns, economic issues taking only second place. Therefore, the economic discourse on conflict became depoliticized, except for a few heterodox works, in particular Marxist ones. Today economic analysis has to deal with a renewal of economic problems in current conflicts, whether internal or international. The supply of raw materials, internal inequalities generating new demands, changes in the world economic hierarchy, development of asymmetrical conflicts… To deal with these new aspects of international relations, current economic theory presents partial and very sophisticated analyzes, in contrast to the global character of former economic theories. Furthermore, liberal orthodoxy dominates most studies devoted to defence economics. This has not decreased the importance of the issues or the debate, but it has moved them from the arena of economics into the more general arena of the social sciences, particularly international relations, politics, international political economy and development studies.

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real-world economics review, issue no. 46

This paper provides a brief overview of how the understanding of conflict and war has changed over the years. Section I looks at the global perspectives that developed from liberal, mercantilist and Marxist schools of thought. Section II then examines the less general analysis of international conflict, in the form of arms races and the development of the theory of civil conflicts. Finally, Section III draws some conclusions

I - Global analyses of military conflict The history of economic thought reveals three main economic explanations of international conflicts: one, that they are the result of State failure; two, that they are the result of the quest for power and wealth; and, three, that they are a result of the nature of capitalism. There are, however, few works in economics that have been entirely devoted to the war and peace issues. I.1. Conflicts as State failure: the liberal creed Kant (1795) argued that the progress of civilization tended to bring peace at the global level. He described wars as morally reprehensible, but also as a way to reach an ideal state of civilization, a world federation characterized by a universal and lasting peace. Fukuyama (1993) provides a recent example of this belief, arguing that the political changes of the late 1980’s and the spread of democracy and liberalism, meant that war would become...

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