Front Page Titles (by Subject) Government Military Behavior - Literature of Liberty, Winter 1980, vol. 3, No. 4
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Government Military Behavior - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Winter 1980, vol. 3, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Government Military Behavior
“Wars, Alliances, and Military Expenditures: Two Pendulum Hypotheses.” Journal of Conflict Resolution: 23(December 1979):629–654.
Social science abounds in explanations of why wars begin. The number of these theories is matched only by the variety of variables they emphasize: alliance structures, polarity patterns, aberrant personalities, atavistic instincts, technological change, even Freud's death-seeking impulses. Even when we are in a position to test some of the ideas found in “war etiology” literature, the empirical results often reveal weak and ambiguous relationships.
A case in point is Alcock's (1972) dynamic two-phase theory of war and his assertion that the theory accounts for the timing of 38 of 39 international wars and 75% of the war variance during the 1946–1971 period. The authors of this article test two fundamental hypotheses of the Alcock theory, using an expanded data base comprising the 1900–1965 war and alliance record of the great powers. This strategy, they assume, provides a better foundation for evaluating the predictive and explanatory capacities of Alcock's theses.
Alcock's two central hypotheses are the following: First of all, wars tend to break out, he asserts, in periods when armament is increasing, though at a steadily decreasing rate. At this point, the “military mind” decides that war is expedient because: (a) the state is as strong as it will be for several years and (b) a war might arrest the downward swing in military spending. Secondly, Alcock claims that in periods of escalating military spending, leaders will tend to form alliances with compatible allies in order to increase their power still further. At the outset of their analysis, the authors question Alcock's use of the term of “war” to describe the 39 events occurring between 1946 and 1971. The Cuban Missile Crisis and the incidents in Goa, Quemoy-Matsu, and Czechoslovakia could hardly be termed wars in any conventional sense. Nonetheless, they all involved some international use of force. As such, they may be considered pertinent to Alcock's assumption that the military would seek to prevent a downward swing in expenditures.
Correlating spending rates of the great powers with their involvement in international conflicts or alliances, the authors detected no systematic support for either hypothesis. Focus on international uses of force yielded only three cases (Japan, the Soviet Union, and the United States) which confirmed the predicted relationship with declining military spending. Yet none of the three equations was statistically significant or capable of accounting for much more than 5% of the estimated variance.
Test data likewise failed to establish a significant correlation between increasing spending rates and alliance formation among the great powers. In fact, the most prevalent coefficient pattern turned out to be the exact reverse of the hypothesis, i.e. decreased spending correlated with increased formation of alliances.
The authors conclude that Alcock's theory does not represent an advancement of our ability to predict or explain the military behavior of great powers.
Political Economy and Theory
The following summaries on political economy raise issues of near-equal importance to human welfare as those raised in the previous section on “War and the State.” In fact, as Richard Wagner's article implies, the economic crises we experience are usually connected with the inflationary pressures of war and government deficit spending to finance wars. Other pressing issues of economic theory and analysis are surveyed to shed light on current issues of economic methodology and policy.