The Offense-Defense Theory Analytical Essay by scribbler

The Offense-Defense Theory
A review of the offense-defense theory on the causes of war.
# 153048 | 1,334 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2013 | US

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The paper explains the logic behind the offense-defense theory and argues that while it sounds like a deceptively simple explanation for war, it is actually a complex, and contentious, series of arguments. The paper discusses the idea that a more powerful state is more likely to bring about war on a more vulnerable state and offers several historical examples that support the theory. The paper concludes that while it may seem to be a highly simplistic analysis, offense-defense theory has been highly influential in the study of political science and should be taken seriously by those who want to better understand why wars occur.

From the Paper:

"War has many causes and such causes have been speculated upon since the first written records of war. After all, to prevent war, one must inevitably discover why it occurs. Various theorists have argued that war can be caused by political, economic, and biological factors. The essay will focus on "offense-defense theory," the idea that one cause of war is, as Stephen Van Evera puts it, "War is more likely when the conquest is easy (Causes of War, 117)." It sounds like a deceptively simple explanation for war, but in actuality it is actually a complex, and contentious, series of arguments. Though some critics have argued that this theory has been difficult to justify empirically, this essay will show it remains a logical explanation as a cause of war.
"The offense-defense hypothesis of war has its roots in classical realist ideas about international politics, and it is considered on of its "most important refinements (Walt 31)." It first came into prominence in the late 1970's, based on the work of Robert Jervis and refined by the works of Stephen Van Evera, whose texts will be discussed at length in this essay. Since emergence of offense-defense theory, this hypothesis about war and its causes has been considered an important theory in the field of international relations (Lynn-Jones 661). According to Biddle, offense-defense theory played a key role in the development of nuclear stability theory and has a large impact on U.S. international policy (741-742)."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Biddle, Stephen. "Rebuilding the Foundations of Offense-Defense Theory." The Journal of Politics 63.3 (August 2001): 741-774. Web.
  • Hopf, Ted. "Polarity, the Offense Balance, and War." The American Political Science Review (June 1991): 475-493.
  • Lynn-Jones, Sean M. "Offense-Defense Theory and it's Critics." Security Review 4.4. (Summer 1995): 660-91. Web.
  • Van Evera, Stephen. Causes of War: Power and the Roots of Conflict. New York: Cornell University Press, 1999. Print.
  • Van Evera, Stephen. "Offense, Defense, and the Causes of War." International Security 22.4 (Spring 1998): 5-43. Web.

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