We use public choice theory to examine the calculus of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. We hypothesize that Putin’s regime acts as a tinpot dictatorship, using political loyalty and repression to stay in office. During Putin’s first two-term presidency, an improvement in Russia’s economic performance increased the supply of political loyalty and resulted in a slow fall in political repression. The global financial crisis deteriorated Russians’ living standards between Putin’s second and third terms in office. The deterioration in the country’s economic performance unambiguously resulted in a fall in the supply of loyalty and increased repression. Consistent with our hypothesis, we argue that Putin’s regime pursued military conquest to increase the aggregate supply of political loyalty.
The principal focus of this chapter is on the question of what impact the fourth industrial revolution will have on the conduct of war in the future. Sub-questions focus on how wider changes within society precipitated by this revolution will feed into the change process militaries are currently embarking on. The most important question here is the extent to which wider political change, which has its foundation in this latest revolution, challenges current conceptions of Western military thought. In adopting a wider vista, it is possible to situate current military thinking in a wider technological context and this will allow us to better understand how war and the state will be affected by the fourth industrial revolution as it progresses towards maturity.
This chapter contends that the importance of technology increased dramatically in the conduct of war from the 19th century onwards. Schumpeter’s economic analysis of capitalism and its relationship to technology demonstrates that four long economic cycles in the industrial revolution led to ground-breaking changes in the mode of production in little more than a hundred years. These changes took time to permeate the consciousness of the military, but the second half of the 19th century witnessed enthusiasm to employ new ideas and technologies in war. This chapter seeks to explain why there was such a change in the mindset of the military and how this impacted the connection between war and the state until the end of the Second World War. Mass industrialized war in the 20th century emphasized quantity more than quality and required the mobilization of society and the economy via the state.
With this article, I present a public choice perspective on Russia’s war on Ukraine. I criticise the realist view according to which Russia’s security concerns, defined by President Putin, prompted the conflict. I argue that realism offers a deficient analytic framework to the extent that it disregards the political and economic structure of Russia and, generally speaking, how the political economy of each case study shapes preferences, strategies and intra-elite relations, which feed into foreign policy formation. Russia is a government-controlled economy and society; a key property of Russia’s political economy is the dependency of key socio-economic actors and groups on the regime’s survival. This landscape pre-empts the expression of genuine feedback and dissent from society, and explains why Putin’s decision has faced very little disagreement and resistance. Given the previously close economic ties between Russia and Ukraine, this article also challenges capitalist peace theory for its blanket assertion that dense economic relations would provide a strong disincentive for countries to resort to war. Instead of talking about capitalism generically, we can discern varieties of capitalism, as they condition state–society relations differently. In Russia, the value that key socio-economic elites assign to their relationship with Putin outweighs the costs they are experiencing from the conflict and the external sanctions. Developing a public choice perspective in the study of international relations focuses on the preferences and strategies of the leadership and of domestic elite-level actors within the aggressor state, and invites attention to the power asymmetries that characterise their relationship.
This chapter introduces the subject of technology, war and the state and provides a review of the existing literature presented in two schools of thought. It then seeks to demonstrate why another study is needed and identifies the principal gaps and weaknesses that exist and how this study proposes to address and expand the debate. The principal argument is that the breadth and pace of current and anticipated technological change will precipitate a paradigm shift in all areas of human life and this will include war and politics. In adopting this position the chapter explains why such a narrow focus on technology as a cause of change is justified when applied to the current context in which we live.
This chapter focuses on the advent of the nuclear age and the changes it precipitated in the organization and conduct of war. Most important here is what impact the nuclear revolution had on the war–state relationship. The existing literature perceives a significant decline in this connection as the incidence of war reduced in frequency in the Western world. This chapter challenges this view in several ways. First, it revisits our understanding of war and what constituted an act of war against the broader background of a possible Armageddon. Most important here is how technology fits into this new strategic paradigm. Precisely, how did the military use it in this more constrained setting, and what were the implications of this for the war–state relationship? This is a particularly interesting moment in history because of the hugely significant role played by military, scientific research, which for a short time became the vanguard of the technological revolution that swept through society starting in the 1980s.
This chapter addresses the question of technological determinism in war and politics and seeks to calibrate the relationship between technology, war and the state by situating it within the context of probably one of the most examined periods of military change, the early modern period within Europe. The principal argument here confirms the position taken by those who believe forces other than technology played an instrumental role in shaping war and politics in the period in question. The chapter explores these debates and its findings support the view that technology was one of several variables that precipitated a change in war and the process of state formation, but did not play a critical or defining role as has sometimes been assumed.
This chapter explores the military doctrinal response to the current challenges facing the West. This is viewed from a Western perspective and focuses on the science of war and on American and military efforts to address the geopolitical and technological threats that the West is likely to confront over the next decade or so. Essentially, this is their manual on how to fight the next war and win. Within it are numerous assumptions about the nature of international politics, who the next enemy will be, how they will seek to negate the military effectiveness of the West’s military system and how this can be countered. The important question here is how accurate this vision of future war addresses the emerging reality we confront.
This book explores the relationship between the state and war within the context of seismic technological change.
As we experience a fourth industrial revolution, technology already exerts a huge impact on the character of war and military strategies in the form of drones and other types of ‘remote’ warfare. However, technological developments are not confined to the defence sector, and the diffusion of military technology inevitably also affects the wider economy and society.
This book investigates these possible developments and speculates on their ramifications for the future. Through its analysis, the book questions what will happen to war and the state and whether we will reach a point where war leads to the unmaking of the state itself.
This chapter explores how current political and technological change are presenting new challenges to Western military powers and how Western militaries are responding. It takes issue with a common assumption that new doctrines are largely the result of internal forces and interests that lead to concepts of warfighting that do not correspond to reality. In this case, a concerted effort has been made to address the threat posed by the likes of Russia and China. The chapter sets out the logic of this operational doctrine and considers what this means for the future of the war–state relationship.