Bear F. Braumoeller

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A Ukrainian serviceman, seen through a camouflage mesh, stands at a front-line position in the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, on Jan. 29. (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

At first blush, the conflict between Russia and the United States over Ukraine seems puzzling. A Russian invasion, which seems increasingly plausible, would spark the most serious diplomatic and military crisis since the end of the Cold War. It would raise the specter of conventional war between two nuclear-armed countries.

American support for the use of force in Ukraine has risen steadily since Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea. As of December 2021, most Americans with opinions on the matter support protecting Ukraine militarily in the event of a Russian invasion. Yet as political scientist Barry Posen has argued, it is far from clear that Ukraine’s independence represents a vital U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, the supreme Allied commander, and Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, who surrendered to the Japanese after Bataan and Corregidor, witness the formal Japanese surrender signatures aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. (AP)

Sept. 2 marks the 75th anniversary of the formal end of World War II. There hasn’t been a “hot” war between great powers since. And since the 2011 publication of cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker’s book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” optimism about trends in warfare, once in short supply, have gone mainstream.

But social science research since the publication of Pinker’s book paints a much more nuanced and less optimistic picture. Here are some further thoughts about the prospect of war.

War is less frequent than it used to be

First, the good news: The use of force by one country against another has become significantly less common since about 1990.…  Seguir leyendo »