Great Powers and Little Wars

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This volume addresses a timely subject--the question of small wars and the limits of power from a historical perspective. The theme is developed through case studies of small wars that the Great Powers conducted in Africa and Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This historical overview clearly shows the dangers inherent for a metropolitan government and its armed forces once such military operations are undertaken. Importantly, these examples from the past stand as a warning against current and future misapplication of military strength and the misuse of military forces.

While continuing diplomatic efforts at limiting nuclear weapons, at reducing stockpiles of conventional arms, and the ongoing political change in Eastern Europe have lessened the dangers of a major war between the superpowers, small wars like the Persian Gulf War still occur. The end of the Cold War has brought more armed conflict in Europe, albeit in the form of sporadic civil war or ethnic violence, than during the height of NATO and Warsaw Pact confrontation. Indeed, it seems that as the risks of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union have diminished, political leaders have become more willing to resort to military force to solve complex international problems before exhausting diplomatic channels. This study will be of interest to policymakers and scholars interested in the judicial exercise of power.

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