Book Review : Julian Lider: On the Nature of War. Swedish Studies in International Relations, Vol. 8. Farnborough, Saxon House, 1977. 409 pp

Date01 November 1979
DOI10.1177/001083677901400308
AuthorNiels Amstrup
Publication Date01 November 1979
SubjectArticles
Book
Review
NIELS
AMSTRUP
Julian
Lider:
On
the
Nature
of
War.
Swedish
Studies
in
International
Relations,
Vol.
8.
Farnborough,
Saxon
House,
1977.
409
pp.
If
any
problem
in
the
study
of
international
politics
deserves
the
label
’classic’
it
is
undoubtedly
the
phenomenon
of
war.
Since
the
days
of
Clausewitz
war
has
been
analysed,
typologized
in
numerous
ways,
defended,
attacked,
glorified
or
condemned.
Despite
this
multitude
of
more
or
less
seri-
ous
efforts
it
remains
an
elusive
problem,
extremely
resistant
to
any
comprehensive
and
sufficient
explanation.
Julian
Lider
from
the
Swedish
Institute
of
International
Affairs
has
done
the
almost
impossible
by
analysing
not
only
the
pro-
lific
Western
studies
on
war,
in
particular
of
course
the
American
ones,
but
also
Soviet
contributions,
with
the
ambitious
aim
of
comparing
both
approaches.
His
extensively
documented
book
concentrates
on
detailed
presentation
and
deliberately
avoids
making
easy
general
conclusions
or
final
comments.
Modestly,
he
ends
his
analysis
not
with
a
conclusion
or
summary,
but
with
some
few
’observations’.
In
the
first
section
of
the
book
Lider
analyses
Western,
i.e.
American,
studies
on
war,
paying
particular
attention
to
the
’realist’
school.
One
reason
for
this
choice
is
the
assumption
that
the
thinking
of
this
school
is
reflected
in
official
Western
policy
statements
(p.
2).
Another,
more
implicit,
reason
seems
to
be
that
’realism’
is
the
Western
or
American
school
which
Soviet
studies
and
criticisms
have
commented
most
extensively
upon.
In
the
treatment
of
the
’realist’
approach
Lider
concentrates,
however,
on
the
older
Morgenthau-influenced
views
and
pays
but
little
attention
to
its,
undoubtedly,
most
im-
portant
derivative,
namely
the
theories
of
’deterrence’.
Thus,
the
extensive
study
by
George
and
Smoke
(Deterrence
in
Ameri-
can
Foreign
Policy,
1974)
on
the
develop-
ment
and
subsequent
shortcomings
of
de-
terrence
is
not
utilized
by
Lider.
In
general
it
can
be
argued
that
Lider,
despite
his
own
argument
that
’the
political
appraisal
of
wars
in
the
United
States
has
been
closely
linked
with
the
broad
assessment
of
the
political
situation
on
which
its
foreign
policy
has
been
based’
(p.
136),
does
not
attempt
to
analyse
the
relation
between
the
changing
foreign
problems
of
the
US
and
the
development
of
American
thinking
on
the
problem
of
war.
Possibly
decision-mak-
ers
are
still
much
influenced
by
’realist’
arguments
but,
on
the
other
hand,
there
is
a
growing
awareness
that
’realism’
or
’deterr-
ence’
has
serious
deficiencies
in
explaining
-
and
avoiding -
war.
Turning
to
the
Soviet
studies
on
war
Lider
is,
as
he
himself
readily
admits,
pre-
sented with
a
problem
which
in
some
re-
spects
is
much
simpler.
While
the
relation-
ships
between
theories
of
war
and
the
offi-
cial
policy
are
rather
complex
and
subtle
in
the
United
States,’Marxist-Leninist
ideas
on
war
serve
directly
to
explain,
justify,
and
support
political
decisions
[in
the
Soviet
Union]’
(p.
2).
The
main
problem,
of
course,
is
to
equate
the
relatively
simple
orthodox
Marxist-Leninist
views
on
war
with
the
present,
complex
international
system
and,
in
particular,
the
position
and
role
of
the
Soviet
Union.
Based
on
an
extensive
material,
unknown
to
most
West-
ern
scholars,
Lider
elucidates
this
fascinat-
ing
problem
in
a
very
competent
way.
He
demonstrates
that
’the
importance
of
domestic
policy
as
the
determinant
of
all
policy
in
the
state
has
in
the
analysis
of
particular
wars
been
diminished’
and
pre-
sents
the
convincing
hypothesis
that
this

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