Richard Ned Lebow


On his book Why Nations Fight: Past and Future Motives for War

Cover Interview of October 03, 2010


The three shifts in thinking I identity have two common features.  Each developed slowly and progressed in fits and starts.

Changes in beliefs took a long time to become sufficiently widespread to affect practice, and practice was at first halting and unsuccessful.  Over time, however, patterns of behavior changed and the motives in question become increasingly disaggregated from war.  The revolution in thinking about wealth began in late eighteenth century, did not fully become the conventional wisdom until the late nineteenth century and did not act as a check on war until at least one half century later.  Collective security, a product of the early nineteenth century, took almost 150 years to show meaningful political consequences.  The shift in thinking about standing is a twentieth century phenomenon and only began to affect political practice during the Cold War.

This author can only hope that a book that demonstrates how traditional conceptions of standing have been responsible for war can help accelerate this change, and, with it, the search and acceptance of alternate means of claiming and receiving standing.

© 2010 Richard Ned Lebow