As far back as the Roman Empire, we have been taught that “if you want peace, prepare for war.” Scholars have taken this to mean “if you want peace, understand war.” A great deal of effort has gone into the study of war at a variety of levels and from a wide array of theoretical perspectives. It is fair to say that war and violent conflict have been the core questions of the field of international studies for generations.

The tendency, however, has been to study war as a ding an sich, an isolated phenomenon. In the United States, and in the West in general, we are taught that war is an aberration from the “normal” status quo, though some scholars have challenged this notion...

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