In This Review

On the Causes of War
On the Causes of War
By Hidemi Suganami
Oxford University Press, 1996, 235 pp

This book begins with a critique of Kenneth N. Waltz's "system level" explanations for the origins of war, arguing that the condition of "international anarchy" and the distribution of power among states do little more to explain the origins of specific wars than do arguments from abstract causes like human nature. He argues instead that the underlying causes of war are so varied as to not permit generalization, while the specific short-term paths to war can be more easily classified. The author is good at deconstructing existing theories of war, but he fails to put forward any clear hypothesis about this phenomenon.