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Archived Versions

Causes and Prevention of War

As taught in: Spring 2005

Photograph of a F-16 dropping two bombs.
An F-16 Fighting Falcon dropped two joint direct attack munitions on the bombing range over Chik-Do Island, South Korea, during training July 2. The munitions were dropped by Lt. Col. Eric Schnitzer from the 80th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alex Lloyd.)


Prof. Stephen Van Evera

MIT Course Number:




Course Features

Course Description

The causes and prevention of interstate war are the central topics of this course. The course goal is to discover and assess the means to prevent or control war. Hence we focus on manipulable or controllable war-causes. The topics covered include the dilemmas, misperceptions, crimes and blunders that caused wars of the past; the origins of these and other war-causes; the possible causes of wars of the future; and possible means to prevent such wars, including short-term policy steps and more utopian schemes.

The historical cases covered include World War I, World War II, Korea, Indochina, and the Peloponnesian, Crimean and Seven Years wars.