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This research paper divides the history of warfare into ﬁve periods: the classical era (including the wars of Greece and Rome); the Middle Ages (roughly from AD 500 to the Turkish conquest of Byzantium in 1453); the age of gunpowder (from 1453 to the American and French Revolutions beginning in 1776); the ‘long nineteenth century’ (from 1776 to 1918); and ﬁnally the contemporary period (covering World War II and the Cold War). Each of these periods will be deﬁned by changes in three dimensions. First and most obviously, each period is associated with a general group of military technologies. Second, each period also involves a shift in the nature of military organization. Finally, this periodization demonstrates changes in the reasons why people have gone to war.
1. Warfare in The Classical Period
The Classical period deserves consideration on its own merits and in the context of an historical debate over the inﬂuence of Greco-Roman warfare on later European patterns. In the ﬁeld of technology, some historians argue that the Greeks and Romans began a pattern of using superior technology to compensate for having to ﬁght wars against numerically superior enemies. The Persian Wars of the ﬁfth century BC demonstrated the need for Greek city-states to combat the much larger armies of Persian kings Darius and Xerxes. Needing to slow the Persians, Spartan general Leonidas threw his much smaller force into a mountain pass near Thermopylae in 480 BC knowing that it would be destroyed to a man. Aware that his army would not return, Leonidas took with him only those men who had children to succeed them, an important consideration because the army and the citizenry were closely linked.
To avoid future Thermoplyaes, the Greeks developed both oﬀensive and defensive technologies. Eventually, the typical Greek soldier wore nearly seventy pounds of armor and carried spears and swords that were superior to Persian weapons. These technological solutions helped the Greeks win, but the unity that the Greek city-states showed against Persia soon devolved into internecine wars. During the most famous of these wars, the Peloponnesian War (431–04 BC), technology again proved critical. In this case, Athenian naval vessels attempted to balance the superior land power of their enemy, Sparta. Defensive technologies evolved in counterpoint as Athens, Syracuse, and other city-states built protective walls strong enough to defy even determined sieges.
The Romans also leaned heavily on technology to defeat more numerous enemies, though many Roman military technologies were not necessarily weapons systems. Building upon the Roman genius for engineering, Roman armies assisted in the construction of a system of roads (even today the Roman roads are roughly contiguous with the European highway system) that permitted the legions to move quickly from one point in the empire to another. The Romans also depended upon defensive works such as trenches and walls (Hadrian’s Wall in the UK is the most famous example) to contain their enemies rather than ﬁght them. Some historians argue that the Classical tradition bequeathed to later Western militaries the importance of looking for technological solutions to military problems.
The Greeks based their military upon the hoplite system. Hoplites (named for their shield, the hoplon) were citizens of the republic and rough social equals. Thus, Greek warfare had no concept directly analogous to the modern division of oﬃcers and enlisted men. Greek generals (such as they were) received their appointment by yearly election. Municipal assemblies also voted on when and where the city-state would go to war. As citizens, hoplites participated fully in these elections.
As nonprofessionals, the hoplites needed a fairly simple tactical system because so little time could be devoted to formal training. The result was a dense concentration called a phalanx. A hoplite’s shield protected his own left side and his neighbor’s right side. Thus the phalanx could only succeed when every hoplite stood his ground, lest the gap between himself and his neighbor be exploited. Once broken apart, a phalanx soon dissolved, resulting in many casualties by trampling.
The Romans trained and organized much more formally than the Greeks. Groups of about 120 men formed ‘maniples,’ thirty-ﬁve of which were then used to form legions of approximately 4,000 infantry and 300 cavalry (the exact sizes of maniples and legions varied signiﬁcantly over time). This system foreshadowed the modern creation of platoons, companies, and brigades. The Romans used professional gladiators (named for their short, thrusting sword, the gladius) and evolved a concept of oﬃcers (usually wealthier citizens) and ‘other ranks.’ Increased sophistication and professional training allowed the Romans to develop a military that used various weapons, including soft iron javelins called pila. The soft iron bent on impact so that enemies could not throw them back. If victorious, however, Roman smiths could recover the pila after the battle and reshape them. The Roman system gave the legions ﬂexibility, endurance, and striking power that few militaries could match.
The Greek and Roman systems of warfare mirrored their societies. Both preferred service by citizens, perhaps another legacy to modern nation-states. The Roman system extended citizenship to conquered people, but the eﬀectiveness of its army noticeably declined as more non-Roman militia entered the Roman military. The citizen model was less prevalent in the armies of autocrats such as Alexander the Great. The Romans also gradually separated wealth from military service by introducing regular pay and even retirement beneﬁts.
Among the legacies left by the Greeks and Romans to later styles of warfare is the concept of pitched battle. The Greeks especially tended to favor violent, but short, battles intended to solve disputes in a single afternoon. The bloody nature of Greek warfare appalled many of their opponents, including the Persians, who disliked a style of warfare that left even the winners with high casualties. Despite its violence, Greek warfare did follow certain understood rules, including safe passage for heralds and ambassadors and amnesty for temples and other religious sites.
Roman warfare followed a similar pattern. Wars were generally fought with the single goal of annihilating the enemy. The Roman sack of Carthage in 146 BC is the most famous, but hardly the only example. Roman armies typically pursued retreating enemies with cavalry and often treated prisoners severely. In one case, Julius Caesar kept an opposing general on display in Rome for six years before executing him. The Roman preference for fast, deadly, decisive battles diﬀered signiﬁcantly from other cultures. The Aztecs, for example, believed that the purpose of warfare was to capture prisoners for later sacriﬁce.
2. Warfare in The Middle Ages
The most important Medieval technology, odd though it may seem, was not a weapon, but the stirrup. The stirrup changed the traditional relationship between cavalry and infantry. With stirrups allowing riders to grasp lances and shields ﬁrmly and with newer, more durable horseshoes allowing horses to run faster and farther, cavalry came to the forefront for most of this period. The Mongols proved to be the most successful of the horse-based military systems of the Asian steppes; by the late thirteenth century they controlled an empire that stretched from China to modern-day Ukraine. Their military relied almost exclusively on cavalry.
In Western Europe, cavalry proved to be no less important. For the aristocrats who could aﬀord the extensive support systems that accompanied cavalry, horses meant power. The European aristocracy, as well as its Japanese counterpart, depended upon horses, armor, and swords for oﬀensive power and increasingly larger castles for defensive power. The victory of mounted Norman knights over Anglo-Saxon infantry at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 underscored the value of cavalry. The Catholic Church even tried to ban weapons (such as the crossbow) that threatened the knight’s status, though the church permitted the use of such weapons on inﬁdels.
Technological changes also helped to end the period of dominance by the mounted knight. The Hundred Years War marks an important turning point. At the battles of Crecy (1346), Poitiers (1356), and Agincourt (1415), skilled English archers devastated French knights with the Welsh longbow, a weapon capable of rapidly delivering arrows powerful enough to penetrate armor at ranges up to 400 yards. Lacking eﬀective missile weapons themselves, the French knights suﬀered terribly. At Crecy, the longbows allowed the English to defeat a French force three times its size, further underscoring the Western pattern of looking to technology to compensate for smaller numbers.
Military training and military service was concentrated in a relatively small group of wealthy aristocrats. In most Eurasian systems, peasants and serfs were not expected to engage in actual ﬁghting, though they might participate in ancillary operations, particularly as archers or pikemen supporting the cavalry. The challenge to kings and other rulers, then, was to maintain the loyalty and fealty of their aristocratic vassals. In the Third Crusade (1189–92), for example, Frederick I of Germany, Philip II of France, and Richard I of England spent considerable time keeping their unruly knights and barons in check. Powerful, aristocratic military orders, relatively independent of royal authority such as the Knights Templars and the Teutonic Knights emerged from the Crusades as well. In Japan a similar system developed, though loyalty was ordinarily based more on personal than contractual allegiances. The Japanese samurai class emerged in the twelfth century, replacing the conscript armies that had existed previously. The samurai also came to dominate Japanese politics, supplanting the traditional Japanese aristocracy. The failure of Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 removed any serious outside threat to the home islands, leaving the small samurai class in near-complete charge of military aﬀairs. Civil wars and power struggles did occur, but they rarely drew Japanese peasants into the ﬁghting.
In the Islamic world, the Abbasid Caliphate began in the ninth century to use slave soldiers called mamluks. Originally from the steppes of Asia Minor, the mamluks soon translated their military dominance into political dominance in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. They were the only major Islamic force that proved capable of resisting the Mongols, defeating them in 1260 at the Battle of Ain Jalut in modernday Israel. The mamluks, the samurai, the Mongols, and the European aristocracy, though diﬀerent in many ways, shared a near-monopoly over military force in their societies, which were arranged in feudal, or at least ﬁef-based, political systems. All of these systems were prone to succession crises and internal strife. None proved to be militarily superior to any other.
Generally speaking, the motivations and purposes for warfare in this period were either religious, feudal, or both. The Islamic empires acquired tremendous territory, in part through military conquest, without signiﬁcant technological advantages over their opponents. They did so by wedding religious ideology to their military forces. Under the reigns of Caliphs Umar (634–44) and Uthman (644–56), Muslim armies conquered Spain, North Africa, Persia, and the Indus River valley. Their ﬂeets conquered Cyprus and raided Sicily and Rhodes. Qur’an readers accompanied Muslim armies, converting many men who may have joined more for plunder than for religion.
The Crusades (1095–1291) also reﬂect a religious basis for warfare in this period. In the eleventh century, the success of the Seljuk Turks against the Byzantines led Pope Urban II to call the First Crusade (1095–99) to defend Christianity against the incursions of Islam. The Crusades perfectly show the interplay of religion and feudal obligation. The Pope acted both as a religious leader and (more controversially) as a noble in his own right. The First Crusade (also known as the ‘Peasants’ Crusade’) demonstrated that only knights could be relied upon to form the center of Christian armies. The peasant armies were too large to feed and too unsophisticated to stand up to the Turks. Of the 30,000 non-nobles who fought in the First Crusade, 25,000 died. Sending young nobles oﬀ to the Middle East also served a political purpose for the Pope, removing warriors and weapons from the constant internal struggles of feudal Europe. Thus by the ﬁfteenth century similar and roughly coequal military systems existed in Western Europe, the Islamic Empires, the Asian steppes, and Japan.
3. Warfare in The Gunpowder Age
The Turkish capture of Constantinople in 1453 involved 70 heavy artillery pieces, including a 19-ton piece that ﬁred a 1,500-pound projectile more than a mile. The appearance of these weapons was not new. Knowledge of gunpowder had moved from China to the Middle East to Europe. At the Battle of Crecy (1346) the English introduced very primitive gunpowder weapons to European warfare. Nevertheless, the dramatic Turkish success at a place Europeans considered sacred marked a watershed in military technology. Ironically, the Islamic empires subsequently proved slower to adopt gunpowder weapons than did their European adversaries. By the end of the eighteenth century, Europeans were the clear masters of gunpowder warfare on land and at sea.
Early small arms, like the arquebus, were clumsy, unreliable, and often more dangerous to the shooter than to his intended victim. Until the widespread adoption of the riﬂe in the nineteenth century the common command given to musketeers was ‘level’ rather than ‘aim’ since one could not expect to hit a speciﬁc target at any signiﬁcant distance. Large artillery was even more dangerous to their users and so large that pieces often had to be cast at the siege site. By the sixteenth century Europeans had standardized ammunition sizes, developed training systems for musketeers, and invented more reliable ﬁring systems for small arms. These changes made both large and small arms more mobile and eﬀective.
Europeans developed gunpowder weapons much more quickly than any other society in this period. The simple availability of raw materials and craftsmen were important prerequisites; men who could cast church bells were in special demand as they could easily cast cannon as well. European nobles also had ample motivation to acquire new weapons for their struggles with other nobles. Finally, the European system proved more amenable to allowing private enterprises to develop and sell new weapons. The mamluks and the samurai showed a particular dislike for guns as they tended to undermine the military monopoly that kept them in power.
Guns threatened the very existence of a horse-based nobility whose expertise was in swords and lances. The age of the knight, already waning, came to an end. Non-noble musketeers replaced them. Because small arms were so ineﬃcient when used singly, musketeers had to be arranged in lines and taught to ﬁre and load their weapons in uson. Armies thus became much larger and more disciplined. Aristocrats who remained in military service became the backbone of an oﬃcer class that led armies mostly constituted of peasants.
Holland’s Maurice of Orange (1567–1625) and Sweden’s Gustavus Adolphus (1594–1632) deserve much of the credit for forming and training the new armies. They introduced regular drill and other reforms that eventually led to the classic European linear infantry formations (initially as many as 10 men deep, later two or three deep) that permitted one line to ﬁre, then move to the back. This system maintained a near-continuous rate of ﬁre, but required intense training (the ﬁrst drill manuals appeared in 1607) and discipline in order to assure the safe and eﬀective operation of guns. Every oﬃcer, furthermore, feared the specter of mutiny. Intense discipline, therefore, characterized most European armies; in many cases, the men feared their oﬃcers more than they feared the enemy.
Many European nations also developed powerful sail-based navies in this period. England’s Henry VIII, excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1534, sold Church lands to ﬁnance the construction of a ﬂeet. Future monarchs continued to build upon Britain’s command of the seas, introducing men-of-war in the seventeenth century that were durable enough to carry large cannon. England’s HMS Victory, launched in 1759, was built from 2,000 oak trees, 27 miles of rope, and four acres of sails. It had 104 guns capable of ﬁring 1,100 pounds of iron every 90 seconds. Seapower became critical to acquiring colonies, protecting merchant marines, and projecting power. Britain dominated the ‘Great Age of Sail,’ but Portugal, Spain, Holland, France, and others used naval vessels to increase their wealth and status.
Three purposes dominated warfare: religion; dynastic ambition; and imperialism. The Thirty Years’ War (1618–48) demonstrated the interplay of the ﬁrst two. Lutheran-Catholic-Calvinist antagonisms partially explain the bloody nature of the war; Germany proportionately lost more people in the Thirty Years’ War than in World War II. Religion, however, did not always determine the allegiances of the participants. Catholic France and Catholic Spain, for example, consistently fought one another for control of Italy and Flanders. Gunpowder weapons also led to a concentration of power as wealthy kings, in command of increasingly larger and more disciplined armies (not to mention artillery able to destroy castles), could compel their restless vassals to accept their rule.
The growth of monarchy meant that warfare often followed the dynastic goals of kings. Louis XIV in France, Peter the Great in Russia, and Frederick the Great in Prussia all used gunpowder-based armies to extend their power inside their kingdoms and enforce their will outside. Often, dynastic wars spilled over into the empires Europeans were in the process of building with those same gunpowder weapons. In the Seven Years’ War (1756–63), Britain seized France’s Canadian and Indian colonies.
Finally, of course, Europeans translated their gunpowder weapon advantages into overseas empires. In this period, their greatest military advantage over non-Europeans was in areas accessible to their great warships. Navies allowed Europeans to enforce their will along the coastlines of Africa and Asia. On land, guns helped to make the Spanish, French, and British empires in the Americas possible. In Asia, ‘gunpowder empires’ such as the Ottomans and the Mughals also concentrated political power. Japan, after an initial period of experimentation with guns, eﬀectively banned gunpowder weapons in 1587 because of the threat they posed to samurai dominance.
4. Warfare in The Long Nineteenth Century, 1776–1918
This period, dominated by nationalism and industrialization, marked a tremendous advance in military technologies. Many existing technologies became much more sophisticated. Smoothbore muskets gave way in the nineteenth century to riﬂes, which have a groove cut in their barrels. Riﬂing and the conical bullet vastly increased the range and accuracy of small arms ﬁre. After the American Civil War (1861–65) various forms of repeating riﬂes and machine guns emerged. Artillery also became more deadly. By 1918 the Germans had developed a gun (albeit an inaccurate one) with a range of 80 miles. Naval vessels became more deadly as well. Iron and steel replaced wood as the primary construction material and oil replaced coal as the main fuel. HMS Dreadnought, launched in 1906, revolutionized warfare by carrying ten 12-inch guns. Dreadnought set oﬀ a naval arms race that helped to cause World War I. Winston Churchill noted the importance of Dreadnought-class ships to his nation thus: ‘the Admiralty asked for six, the Cabinet proposed four, and we compromised on eight.’
This period also introduced many new types of weapons systems, including (in rough chronological order), submarines, airplanes, poison gas, and tanks. By the end of this period air forces had developed all major roles for airpower in use today except midair refueling. These technologies brought war directly to civilians as never before. Many important communications technologies such as telegraphs (ﬁrst used in the Crimean War, 1854–56), railroads, and radio changed the nature of military command and control. Advances in medical technology reduced the number of men who died of wounds and disease.
These technological changes aﬀected Western and Westernized societies (including the USA and, after 1853, Japan) the most. Warfare between them, there-fore, reached unprecedented levels of violence. Westernized societies also had tremendous advantages against non-westernized societies. European imperialists were thus able to use new military technologies to move inland in Africa and Asia. Most visibly, Japan, which Westernized very quickly after 1853, easily defeated China, which did not, in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95.
The most obvious change in the organization of armies and navies in this period was the increasing connection between military service and nationalism. National volunteers and conscripts replaced mercenaries, once common in Europe. Between 1776 and 1783, the American colonies used a militia with both local and national roots to defeat a British army partly dependent upon mercenaries. This contrast partially explains the fame of George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River in 1776: his national army captured 1,000 Hessian mercenaries in British service.
The American experience, though, is minor compared to the French Revolution. The logic of the Revolution and the wars that followed implied that national armies must be populated by national soldiers. The levee en masse of 1793 established the principle that citizens of all ages, male and female, bore some responsibility for national defense. Napoleon extended this principle and most European armies soon copied the French pattern. Nationalism inspired zeal and a willingness to endure. In 1814 Prussia created the Landwehr as a permanent peacetime militia and by the end of the nineteenth century most European nations had introduced national conscription. The militaries of states that were not also nations (Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire) declined as a result.
The two most important military reforms of this period were Napoleon’s corps system and the Prussian General Staﬀ. A Napoleonic corps was large enough to operate independently since it contained formations of cavalry, artillery, and infantry that could act in concert. This system, however, depended on capable oﬃcers. Napoleon therefore introduced a professional oﬃcer corps open to talent in place of the aristocratic oﬃcer corps upon which Europe had come to depend. Later in the century, Prussia developed a General Staﬀ system to plan wars. Detailed Prussian planning led to victory in the Wars of German Uniﬁcation (1864 against Denmark, 1866 against Austria, and 1870–71 against France). These successes led all major Western militaries to copy the general staﬀ idea.
Military historians sometimes speak of a continuum between ‘limited’ and ‘total’ wars. Because warfare in this period tended to be tied to national goals and national identity, this period represented a general shift toward totality. The Wars of the French Revolution, the American Civil War, and World War I stand as cases in point. In these wars and others, huge proportions of national income were dedicated to prosecuting wars and fundamental social, political, economic, and cultural patterns were forever altered. The increased suﬀering (and intentional targeting) of civilians also led to totality.
Advanced technologies also made imperialism (often as an extension of nationalism) cheaper and easier for the Europeans. European militaries moved inland with steam-powered ships and railroads. Machine guns, furthermore, made military contests with natives one-sided. By 1912, the Vickers-Maxim gun could ﬁre 250 rounds per minute. As poet Halaire Belloc noted in a turn-of-the-century (twentieth century) poem, ‘Whatever happens, we have got The Maxim Gun, and they have not.’ Nevertheless, isolated cases such as the Boer Wars (1899–1902) demonstrated that modern weapons in the hands of skilled practitioners could make imperialism extremely bloody and costly. The Boers, white settlers in South Africa of Dutch ancestry, resisted the British with breech-loading guns and smokeless powder. It took the British empire more than two and a half years and almost 500,000 men to subdue less than 90,000 loosely organized Boers. The Boer Wars provided a taste of the changes to come in European military dominance after World War II.
World War I caused 20,000,000 deaths, destroyed four empires, and left in place the conditions for World War II. Only wars fought by national armies could have been so destructive. Warfare in this period combined the productive capacity of industrialization with the inspiration of nationalism. This combination, when matched with the classical legacy for pitched battle, produced a level of carnage that continues to baﬄe historians today.
5. Warfare in The Contemporary Period, 1918–2000
Although this period has much in common with the previous period, one speciﬁc technology divides it from all that had come before. Atomic weapons have changed the very deﬁnition of warfare. Some scholars have argued that in the atomic age ‘strategy,’ as the term was commonly understood before 1945, has no real meaning because atomic weapons do not permit a society to apply a level of force proportionate to desired political ends. In eﬀect, a society only has the military option of obliterating one’s enemy and, in the process, taking the risk that a similar fate might befall your own society. Atomic weapons created the post-World War II superpower system that so informed not only the Cold War but dozens of regional conﬂicts as well. The challenge of ﬁghting wars ‘under the nuclear umbrella’ led to American defeat in Vietnam, Soviet defeat in Afghanistan, and ‘war by proxy’ as the superpowers tried to ﬁght each other through client states in areas as diverse as Southeast Asia, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.
Of course, more than just atomic weapons are important to this period. World War II saw the development of eﬀective long-range bombers and aircraft carriers, capable of bringing war directly into an enemy’s homeland. Radar and sonar provided new technologies to deal with enemy air and submarine attacks. By the end of the war, jet aircraft and rockets were operational, though neither proved decisive. More sophisticated transport planes and landing craft allowed for airborne and amphibious warfare to come into maturity as well.
Since World War II, electronics and computers have revolutionized warfare yet again. Cruise missiles and other ‘smart’ weapons ideally provide more accurate delivery of weapons and, hopefully, fewer civilian casualties as a result. Satellites, helicopters, sophisticated avionics, and stealth technology once again have provided an upper hand to advanced societies, though the Vietnam and Afghanistan cases prove that a technological advantage is not always enough to ensure victory. Nevertheless, today Western societies still depend upon their technological advantages— much as the ancient Greeks did—to compensate for the smaller numbers of soldiers that they can place on the battleﬁeld.
Initially, the organization of World War II armies was designed to avoid the totality of World War I. The German blitzkrieg system attempted to win ‘lightning’ victories that would not drain German manpower in the trenches. The Japanese, too, hoped to destroy the American ﬂeet at Pearl Harbor and force the USA into a negotiated settlement. Nevertheless, totality soon emerged as the Axis powers sought to annihilate, not defeat, their enemies. More than ever before, entire societies became mobilized. Women participated directly and indirectly in numbers and ways never before envisioned. The pattern of increasing female participation has continued into the post-war period. The USA armed forces used 35,000 women in the Persian Gulf War, many of them at or very near the front lines. The totality of World War II ruined Europe and Japan as ﬁrst-rate military powers. The end of European hegemony also meant the virtual end of imperialism. Many militaries resorted to guerilla warfare to try to defeat more technologically sophisticated enemies. Fighting underneath the ‘technology threshold’ has proven diﬃcult for more advanced military systems. The Americans had great diﬃculty with the Vietnamese but few battleﬁeld problems with the Iraqis in 1991 because the latter’s military was much more like their own that the former’s.
Since the end of the Cold War, the general trend has been to much smaller, but more sophisticated, militaries. Virtually all European states have eliminated or greatly reduced conscription. The USA abandoned conscription during the Cold War (in 1973) partially as a result of Vietnam War protest, but also to acknowledge that sophisticated weapons systems require dedicated professional volunteers to operate them.
World War II was a contest of three ideologies: democratic capitalism, fascism, and communism. As a result, armies became politicized as never before. Young German males often left Hitler Youth organizations and entered directly into the Wehrmacht. In the Soviet Union, political commissars (including Nikita Khrushchev) served with Soviet military units and had as much decision-making authority as generals. Ideology created what John Dower called a ‘war without mercy.’ Though he was referring to the Paciﬁc War between the USA and Japan, the same phrase could be applied equally to the war between Germany and the Soviet Union as well. The Holocaust and the German siege of Stalingrad, among other episodes, show the cost of the war to civilians. The former killed 6,000,000 Jews and other targets of the Nazi state. In the latter, Joseph Stalin refused to order the evacuation of the city even in its most dire moments. In the end, only nine Stalingrad children were reunited with both biological parents.
The Cold War interacted with the general decline of European hegemony to impact regional conﬂicts. Throughout the Third World, nationalist movements and civil wars became arenas where the superpowers armed clients but, conversely, often went to great lengths to reduce global tensions. In 1956 and 1973, for example, the superpowers brokered truces in the Arab–Israeli wars rather than risk a USA–Soviet confrontation. Regional wars like the Iran–Iraq War (1980–88) also became entangled with the Cold War; the weapons that the superpowers made available lengthened wars that had little relation to the global capitalist–communist struggle.
The end of the Cold War raises as many questions as it provides answers. The Persian Gulf War seemed to set the model for American hegemony as the lone remaining superpower. After building a coalition based around itself, the USA operated in the Gulf without the fears of Soviet response that had haunted Korea and Vietnam. The NATO air war over Kosovo, however, suggested that Russia (and perhaps China) could not be ignored. Multipolarity appears to be every bit as dangerous as bipolarity. The Western powers continue to look toward technological solutions (especially airplanes and cruise missiles) to solve military problems, suggesting that in some ways we have not come so far from the Greeks after all.
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