Classical Realism and History: Findings and Implications
The findings are summarized. Fifteen of the twenty-three wars were fought to take territory and three others to forestall a realistic threat. These results are inconsistent with the claim that states content with the status quo blunder into war through mutual misperception. The wars occurred primarily because revisionist states, led by kings and dictators eager to attain glory and power, attacked others or provoked others to attack them. Human nature is the primary cause of war, but Monarchy and especially Dictatorship inflame and release from control the passions of leaders. Ambition causes wars, and fear can prevent them. Classical Realism, modified to incorporate the impact of regimes, provides the most convincing explanation for war, as well as the best guide to policy.