Causes and Prevention of War

A group of U.S. soldiers run in a desert dressed in tan fatigues towards a large waiting helicopter.

Soldiers run to board the CH-47 Chinook helicopter that will return them to Kandahar Army Air Field in Afghanistan. (Image courtesy of the United States Federal Government.)


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Spring 2009



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Course Description

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Course Description

The causes and prevention of interstate war are the central topics of this course. The course goal is to discover and assess the means to prevent or control war. Hence we focus on manipulable or controllable war-causes. The topics covered include the dilemmas, misperceptions, crimes and blunders that caused wars of the past; the origins of these and other war-causes; the possible causes of wars of the future; and possible means to prevent such wars, including short-term policy steps and more utopian schemes.

The historical cases covered include the Peloponnesian and Seven Years wars, World War I, World War II, Korea, the Arab-Israel conflict, and the U.S.-Iraq and U.S. al-Queda wars.

This is an undergraduate course, but it is open to graduate students.

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Stephen Van Evera. 17.42 Causes and Prevention of War. Spring 2009. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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