Revolution and War (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)
Stephen M. Walt
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Revolution within a state almost invariably leads to intense security competition between states, and often to war. In Revolution and War, Stephen M. Walt explains why this is so, and suggests how the risk of conflicts brought on by domestic upheaval might be reduced in the future. In doing so, he explores one of the basic questions of international relations: What are the connections between domestic politics and foreign policy?
Walt begins by exposing the flaws in existing theories about the relationship between revolution and war. Drawing on the theoretical literature about revolution and the realist perspective on international politics, he argues that revolutions cause wars by altering the balance of threats between a revolutionary state and its rivals. Each state sees the other as both a looming danger and a vulnerable adversary, making war seem both necessary and attractive.
Walt traces the dynamics of this argument through detailed studies of the French, Russian, and Iranian revolutions, and through briefer treatment of the American, Mexican, Turkish, and Chinese cases. He also considers the experience of the Soviet Union, whose revolutionary transformation led to conflict within the former Soviet empire but not with the outside world. An important refinement of realist approaches to international politics, this book unites the study of revolution with scholarship on the causes of war.
would spread, exacerbated by Khomeini’s claims that monarchical institutions were “un-Islamic,” his accusations that the conservative Arab states were corrupt puppets of the “Great Satan,” and repeated Iranian statements confirming their desire to export the revolution.109 Several gulf states were especially worried about unrest among their own Shiite populations, whom they feared would be susceptible to Khomeini’s message. The Saudi royal family was also concerned that the revolution would open
in a damaging economic competition.6 A second issue was payment for losses suffered during the War of Independence; the Treaty of Paris obliged the former colonies to compensate loyalists and British citizens for lost property, but the new Congress lacked the power to collect the necessary funds. As a result, Britain refused to withdraw from its network of forts along the northwestern frontier and continued to support a number of Indian tribes who were actively resisting the westward expansion of
this book. Maoist Revolutionary Ideology Maoist political thought closely resembles the ideal type of revolutionary ideology described in chapter 2.136 During its long struggle against both the Guomindang (GMD) and Japan, the CCP developed a body of revolutionary doctrine designed to inspire prolonged sacrifices and provide tactical guidance to the Communist cadres. As a Marxist-Leninist, CCP leader Mao Tse-tung viewed politics as inherently competitive and regarded opponents—especially
be expensive. As a result, both sides ultimately refrained from the large-scale use of force. Uncertainty and Misinformation. If revolutions are both hard to export and difficult to reverse, then why do states worry about either possibility? Our cases provide part of the answer: it will be extremely difficult for states to gauge their situation accurately after a revolution, because relations between revolutionary states and other powers will be afflicted by very high levels of
moderate or abandon their more radical objectives, critical theory anticipates both dramatic and enduring change, even in the face of strong external pressures. Do our seven cases support this view? On the one hand, the evidence does support a limited version of the argument: in each case, the revolutionary elite saw the seizure of power as a decisive break with the past and adopted policies that departed sharply from those of the old regime. In this sense, therefore, one can say that the change