Bill Adlam on Sat, 20 Mar 2004 06:10:41 -0600 (CST)

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[spoon-discuss] historiographic comments

The learned BvS writes:

> -I think we have different notions of "all-out." There have been
> dozens if not hundreds of wars between European states since the
> Peace of Westphalia (which was in 1638, and established the
> recognition of states by other states)....

You mean 1648.  See, I am paying attention.

I thought about the Thirty Years' War, but decided that although the
Holy Roman Empire was unmatched in Europe it was not a world power -
the Emperor's influence was strictly local, like China, Persia, the
Mughals, or the Ottomans.  France and Spain were world powers, but
their participation was limited.  And the contemporary wars in the
British Isles were within a world power.  So by my off-the-cuff
definition it doesn't count.  

In any case this was before the era of total war, which might be
regarded as a slightly less imprecise definition of all-out.  Or we
could define it as a war that threatened the existence of one or more
belligerent powers, in which case maybe it does count.

> What I mean is that the
> United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Israel (let's
> assume that "major" means "nuclear," for the time being) have not had
> a war between themselves since 1945, despite representing about three
> and a half rival groups. Wars with and through surrogates, yes, but
> not direct. The threat of utter devastation is enough to deter wild
> behavior.-

It didn't deter China from repulsing the US-led forces in Korea when
they came uncomfortably close - and three other nuclear powers also
fought there directly.  Nor did it deter the British and French
colonies from rebelling in the 50s and 60s.


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