The Remnants of War by John Mueller
(Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)

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"War . . . is merely an idea, an institution, like dueling or slavery, that has been grafted onto human existence. It is not a trick of fate, a thunderbolt from hell, a natural calamity, or a desperate plot contrivance dreamed up by some sadistic puppeteer on high. And it seems to me that the institution is in pronounced decline, abandoned as attitudes toward it have changed, roughly following the pattern by which the ancient and formidable institution of slavery became discredited and then mostly obsolete."-from the Introduction

War is one of the great themes of human history and now, John Mueller believes, it is clearly declining. Developed nations have generally abandoned it as a way for conducting their relations with other countries, and most current warfare (though not all) is opportunistic predation waged by packs-often remarkably small ones-of criminals and bullies. Thus, argues Mueller, war has been substantially reduced to its remnants-or dregs-and thugs are the residual combatants.

Mueller is sensitive to the policy implications of this view. When developed states commit disciplined troops to peacekeeping, the result is usually a rapid cessation of murderous disorder. The Remnants of War thus reinvigorates our sense of the moral responsibility bound up in peacekeeping. In Mueller's view, capable domestic policing and military forces can also be effective in reestablishing civic order, and the building of competent governments is key to eliminating most of what remains of warfare.


About John Mueller

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John Muellerholds the Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies, Mershon Center, and is professor of Political Science at Ohio State University, where he teaches courses in international relations.He is the author of several classic works of political science and many editorial page columns and articles inThe Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Reason, The Washington Post, andThe New York Times.Mueller is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has been a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, and has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has also received several teaching prizes.
Published January 14, 2013 by Cornell University Press. 272 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Remnants of War

Publishers Weekly

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The argument depends heavily on Mueller's thesis that the various forms of conflict prominent after the Cold War--terrorism, ethnic conflicts,""criminal war"" like that still racking the former Yugoslavia--are not wars but policing problems, requiring a constabulary approach.

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London Review of Books

by the end of the Cold War, nations across the developed world had ‘substantially abandoned war as a method for dealing with their disagreements’.

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