Military Power Potential
Military Power Potential
Power potential in a changing world
Military power potential consists in the resources that a nation-state can mobilize against other nation-states for purposes of military deterrence, defense, and war. This definition—which makes the term approximately synonymous with “defense potential” but renders it broader than the term “war potential”—follows a narrow definition of national power.
More broadly conceived, national power in interstate relations is the ability of nation-states to produce desired effects in the behavior of other nation-states. However, a wide variety of conditions and means, noncoercive as well as coercive, may be available to a nation-state to produce such effects. Indeed, since nation A may behave in certain ways toward nation B because it “respects” or “admires” nation B, such respect or admiration may be said to be part of B’s power, broadly defined, over A. This inclusive perspective is useful, since it keeps us from neglecting or ignoring various factors affecting the behavior of nation-states toward others. However, as we know from the study of interpersonal relationships, a particular kind of behavior may result from different conditions or combinations of conditions and, for analytical, predictive, and manipulative purposes, we may be interested in distinguishing among particular conditions and their effects. One such condition, of prime importance in interstate relations, is power more narrowly defined as military power. This is in fact the most widely accepted definition of power in interstate relations. It is defined as the ability to affect the behavior of other nation-states through the actual or threatened exertion of force. As used in this article, then, national power is the ability to coerce other nations, and coercion refers to physical constraint rather than to such other means of pressure as economic reprisal.
National military power is, of course, relative. It pertains to a relationship between states, the military power of state A being great or small in relation to the military power of state B or of several other states. The importance of military power in shaping the behavior of nation-states toward one another is also relative to the importance of other means of generating desired results. Thus, the importance of national military power will vary between state actors and, over time, within the entire international system of action. The main conditions immediately accounting for this variability are: (1) the pattern of distribution of military power in the international system; (2) the values at stake in international conflicts; (3) the “costs”—in terms of such values as economic resources, personal self-direction, moral standards, and reputation—of producing and employing military power; and (4) the comparative availability and effectiveness of other means for resolving international conflict, and the “costs” of using these alternative means.
In studying the exertion and counterexertion of power, one approach is to concentrate on the results or on the means accounting for, or capable of accounting for, particular results. When we concentrate on the results, and perhaps equate power with particular effects, we are concerned with far more complex relationships than when we compare the particular power instruments available to different nation-states. Thus, state A may have twice as much military power to exert against states B or C than either can exert against A. Faced with the same threat and demand from A, B may give in and C may fight; and faced with the same threat, B may give in to one demand, but fight when confronted with a different demand. Conversely, A rnay use its military power against B or C in support of some demands but not in support of others. Such problems involve choices of action determined by the various advantages and disadvantages attached by state actors to the exertion or counterexertion of power.
In the following we are concerned not with the whole range and scope of power but with the availability of one particular instrument of power, namely, military power. Military power, however, may produqe desired results withput being exerted, State A may act in certain ways because it does not wish to risk the use of B’s military power against itself. It is this silent effectiveness of national power that appears to be pervasive, even though it is hard to trace in terms of cause and effect and hence is easily ignored. In the real world, a nation’s military power rnay be conditioned by its relations with friendly or allied states from which it may receive supplies, training for personnel, technological assistance, and financial aid, as well as military support in time of war. For the sake of simplicity, these international (and possibly supranational) phenomena will be disregarded in this discussion. We will assume that national power is self-generated.
If national military power is the ability of one nation to coerce other nations through the employment of military means, or to resist such coercion by other states, then this power may be said to have, at any one time, two components: first, mobilized military capabilities ready for immediate operational commitment; and, second, additional power potential, which is a nation’s ability to produce further military capabilities. To be employed militarily, power potential must first be mobilized—that is, transformed into, or used in, the production of operational military force, although the very act of initiating the mobilization of potential is a demonstration of a nation’s intentions and may of itself act as a coercive threat or counterthreat. The process of mobilizing military potential takes time, and the resources involved will add to operational military capability only to the extent that there actually is opportunity for their mobilization. Manpower and industrial resources may obviously contribute to a nation’s military potential, and most writers have in fact focused entirely or largely on economic potential when using the concept of war potential. In modern nations, however, a vast range of national resources is adaptable to the generation of military forces and it is, furthermore, possible to indicate certain administrative resources and political conditions that affect the magnitude of a nation’s military potential and the speed with which it can be mobilized.
Since most authors refer to “war potential” rather than to “military power potential,” they are usually concerned only with the part of a nation’s power potential that has not yet been mobilized in the production of military forces and is still available for mobilization in pursuit of an arms race or in the event of war. However, in the nuclear age, as we shall see, the concept of power, or military, potential is of greater interest than that of war potential. Military power potential is the total ability of a nation to produce military power. Part of it is mobilized at any one time; part of it is unmobilized.
History of the concept
The concept of “war potential” did not gain appreciable currency until after World War n, However, thinking about the reality encompassed by the concept has been familiar in the literature of western Europe ever since the beginning of the mercantilist school. The mercantilist writers (for example, Charles Davenant, Josiah Tucker, and Jean Baptiste Colbert) were profoundly preoccupied with studying the bases—particularly the financial, commercial, industrial, and population resources—on which rested a nation’s ability to prepare for war and to conduct it (Heqkscher 1931). Mercantilist discussions of the “sinews of war” dealt with military power potential in the light of mercantilist perspectives. Despite the repudiation of mercantilist notions by the classical economists, there was a line of noted writers—for example, Adam Smith, Alexander Hamilton, Friedrich List, Friedrich Engels—who transmitted this preoccupation from the eighteenth to the twentieth century.
It is not surprising that the mercantilists were the first thinkers who undertook, although with inadequate analytical tools, the systematic study of military potential. They were themselves products of two momentous and interconnected events in the history of mankind—the emergence of the nation-state, which monopolized the organization of military power, and the beginnings of the industrial revolution, which was to have enormous effects on the nature and bases of military power.
The quickening evolution of pure modern science, the flourishing of applied science and technological innovation, and the rapid economic growth associated with the agricultural and, especially, the industrial revolution had even more revolutionary effects on the generation, form, and distribution of military powei*. These effects did not exhaust themselves in the forging of new weapons, such as constantly improved firearms; or even in such new devices as the steam engine and electrical apparatus, which were adapted to direct military use, lent themselves readily to the production of armaments, and vastly increased the mobility of heavily equipped military forces. More basic was the swift increase in the productivity of labor. In the preindustrial age, when communities were basically agrarian and farmers were unable, on the average, to produce much more than they consumed, the portion of resources available for military purposes as well as for other nonfarm activities was severely limited. Large military forces could be supported only temporarily, usually at the expense of plunder, capital depletion, and malnutrition or starvation. The Roman Empire began to decline when it attempted to place too heavy a burden of nonagriciiltural activities, including military ones, on a peasantry that, compared with today’s, was poor in productive resources. What happened in modern times, and especially after 1800, was that farmers became able to feed an increasing number of nonfarm families, which were thus released to commerce, industry, government, and the military. Pigou ( 1941, pp. 42-43) calculated that, by the beginning of the twentieth century, industrial nations were able to divert about one-half of their productive capacity to the conduct of war by means of augmented production, reduced personal consumption, reduced investment in new capital, and depletion of existing capital. Their ability to prepare for war had increased similarly.
The first push of modernization began in small local areas. It gave western Europe an enormous advantage in military capability, enabling that comparatively small region not only to inflict huge damage on itself in internecine warfare but also to conquer vast colonial empires overseas. The process of modernization was weak and halting at first, gathered rapid momentum during the second half of the nineteenth century, and—although still unevenly distributed over the globe—reached a stupendous acceleration after World War II.
The monopoly of coercion at the level of the modern nation-state brought about the “nationalization” of war. Advancing science, technology, and economic production resulted in what may be called the “industrialization” of war. As war became nationalized and progressively industrialized, the concept of war, and warfare itself, tended to become “total.” Although preindustrial and indeed preagrarian societies have been known to conduct wars of extermination, total war was widely recognized as a new development only after World War i. Thus, Oualid (Inter-parliamentary Union 1931, pp. 120-121) stated that modern war “implies the utilization of all the forces of the national collectivity: human, material, economic and moral.” And General Douhet ( 1942, p. 5) observed that “the prevailing forms of social organization” had given modern warfare “a character of national totality—that is, the entire population and all the resources of a nation are sucked into the maw of war.” During World War I, the tendency for war to become “total” had expressed itself chiefly in the extension of the naval blockade to shipments of food and nearly all other civilian goods; in World War II, it led to the massive area-bombing of industries and cities, causing huge losses of civilian lives and assets. Making war “total” meant directing hostilities not only against the opponent’s armed forces but also against his entire military potential.
Relevance in the nuclear age
Between World War i and World War II, military power potential was usually discussed in terms of “war potential”—that is, the ability of nations to mobilize resources after war had broken out. It was normal for nations to maintain military establishments in peacetime far smaller than those they could establish in time of war. Following the outbreak of hostilities, and in fact during the diplomatic crisis preceding it, there was usually time to mobilize potential power. Germany, for instance, in 1939 produced only 20 per cent of the volume of combat munitions that she produced in 1944 (Knorr 1956, p. 59); similarly, it took several years for the military production of the United States to reach a peak in World War II.
World War I and World War II were classical wars of attrition, won by the coalitions that possessed superior potential in manpower and economic resources. This outcome does not, of course, prove that war potential was decisive; the outcome of war is determined by other factors as well, such as the quality of generalship, strategic surprise, morale, and geography. One may surmise, however, that war potential became more important, in relation to other determinants, as warfare became industrialized and that very large asymmetries in these other conditions were then required to overcome a substantial difference in war potential, especially modern, industrial war potential. It is therefore not surprising that, in World War n, military fortunes turned with the balance of combat supplies (Knorr 1956, pp. 33-34).
The emergence of nuclear bombs, and of aircraft and rockets of high speed and vast range, has caused many analysts to regard the concept of war potential as obsolete. The new arms technology means that military destruction on an unprecedented and previously unimaginable scale could be visited on the interior of any country within days or even hours of the outbreak of war. A few penetrating weapons alone could wreak enormous damage, and there are no known or foreseeable defenses capable of preventing this. The only sure method of preventing a nuclear weapon from penetrating is to destroy it, by means of a first or preemptive strike, before it has taken off from its base. If all-out war occurred under these conditions, the decisive blows, it is assumed, would be struck within a matter of days. The preatomic age saw many cases in which an antagonist lacked sufficient time for mobilizing potential because he was quickly overrun by his opponent. Large-scale nuclear war, however, would permit no time at all to mobilize “war potential,” and the constituents of this potential would be mostly destroyed or disorganized in the first waves of attack. The main object of defense in this situation is to deter attack by threatening retaliation; to do this requires forces fully mobilized before the outbreak of hostilities.
As long as these conditions of military technology prevail, “war potential,” as distinct from “power potential,” will be of less significance, although it remains important in the power relations of nonnuclear nations and in protracted non-nuclear disputes involving nuclear powers. (The Korean War required the United States to mobilize some margin of its war potential; and, in the early 1950s, the United States increased its capability for waging limited nonnuclear war.) However, the concept of military, as distinct from war, potential suffers no loss of significance whatever, since it refers to the capacity of nations to produce military power—nuclear and nonnuclear—whether in peace or war. The relative military power that nations are able to muster for deterrence and defense and their capacities for innovating in, and exploiting, a highly dynamic technology and for entering and sustaining arms races are basically matters of military potential.
Components of power potential
Nations have few, if any, properties—geographic, demographic, economic, political, social, or cultural—that do not directly or indirectly affect their ability to produce military forces. These factors are too numerous to permit detailed enumeration and too heterogeneous and interdependent to encourage exhaustive and meaningful classification. Analysts of power potential have therefore focused on what seem to them to be the important determinants and have described these in terms of broad categories, such as population and industrial resources, that have intricate structures and are capable of further differentiation and comparison.
The military sector may be regarded as a sub-system of the national society, receiving manpower, services, and other resources as inputs and producing from them the outputs—trained personnel, equipment, supplies, organization, doctrine, strategy, and deployment—that constitute the nation’s military power.
Since virtually all nation-states maintain military establishments at all times, a varying portion of their total power potential is mobilized at any one time; and, in the case of the major nuclear powers at least, this portion has risen compared with previous peacetime periods. Clearly, the unmobilized portion, as well as the total, of a nation’s ability to generate military power is subject to change.
It is possible to distinguish three major determinants of military power potential: economic capacity (in the past usually called “economic war potential”), military motivation, and administrative competence. The quantity and quality of the nation’s manpower and other resources that are suitable as inputs for the military sector represent its economic military potential. The portion of this potential which, in time of peace or war, a nation is prepared to divert to the military sector depends upon military motivation. The efficiency with which the inputs are transformed into outputs depends on the nation’s administrative military potential.
Production for both civilian and military use depends upon the quantity, composition, and quality of available factors of production. These are the nation’s labor force; land and other natural resources; material capital in such forms as farms, factories, railroads, and inventories; monetary capital in the form of net claims on foreigners; and organizations in which factors are combined for economic production. How large a volume of goods and services a nation produces depends, additionally, on the rate of factor employment (some resources may be idle voluntarily or involuntarily) and on resource productivity (that is, the productivity of labor, land, capital, and management). Productivity has a bearing on military potential, since the larger the volume of output per capita, the more resources can be diverted, if the community so chooses, to the military sector without causing intolerable hardship to the civilian sector.
A nation’s resources, including its economic defense potential, tend to grow with the numbers in the labor force, additions to real capital, technological innovation, and improvements in productive human skills. Increases of the real gross national product (GNP), in the aggregate and per capita, are a rough index of such changes, although the benefits of rising labor productivity may be claimed, at least in part, in the form of increments to leisure rather than to goods and services. A country with a rapidly expanding national product, in the aggregate and per capita, tends to have an increasing economic potential for military purposes.
However, the magnitude of this economic potential is also conditioned by the composition and quality of resources. In time of peace, and especially in time of crisis and war, the value of potential is derived largely from the speed with which it can be mobilized. Therefore, whatever the size of the national product, the closer resources are to the forms required by the military sector, and the more flexible the economic system is in permitting a rapid shift of productive factors from civilian to military production, the larger a nation’s economic defense potential will be. For instance, the larger the proportion of males in the age bracket preferred for military service and the greater the proportion of such males with previous military training, the more the labor force contributes to military potential. Similarly, the closer the products for the civilian sector are to the many products required by the military sector, the greater the nation’s potential for military production. Output of energy in various forms and means of transportation are of course basic in the modern industrial age. Modern arms technology has made the military sector a voracious consumer of extremely complicated instruments and hence has put a high premium on such industries as electronics and on sophisticated metallurgical, chemical, and engineering production. Basic energy sources apart, a rich local base of raw materials has, on the other hand, become relatively less important, partly because modern technology has a startling capacity for creating new materials and for substituting one material or even one end product for another. Moreover, in view of the emphasis on military preparedness in peacetime and the improbability of large-scale and prolonged wars of attrition, productive nations can import many of the materials with which they are not endowed. With the acceleration of technological advance, notably in military technology, the most precious resource, especially among the leading military powers, is the capacity for endless scientific discovery and technological innovation and hence the number, skill, and genius of a nation’s scientists and engineers.
As suggested, military potential depends not only on how close a nation’s composition of total output is to the mixture required by the military sector but also on the rapidity with which output composition can be changed. This flexibility rests in large part on the mobility and versatility of labor and of other factors of production. It may be observed further that, assuming any given composition of national production, this mobility varies with the growth of the real GNP and with the stage of economic development. Rapid economic growth indicates a high rate of investment and of innovation, including product changes. It occurs in a society capable of initiating and absorbing frequent change. The stage of economic development is significant because the more advanced an economy, the richer it is in the kinds of skills and the variety of productive facilities that are conducive to rapid and continuous changes in output.
The quantity and quality of military potential are, of course, relative to the varying military needs and ambitions of the country. Relatively few countries have the potential resources for developing, on their own account, sophisticated nuclear weapons and vehicles for their delivery. Indeed, some of these nations do not intend to become nuclear powers and hence have no military use for nuclear energy production. Although these countries may possess a substantial potential for producing “conventional,” that is, nonnuclear military forces, no single country can rival the United States and the Soviet Union in military power and military potential. One might, in fact, conjecture that there is now a greater diversity in the magnitude and quality of military economic potential than prevailed in the past. Differences in sheer size of population and territory have always existed, and so have differences in the state of the arts applicable to military activities. But one suspects that the qualitative differences between, for example, Afghanistan and the Soviet Union or between Haiti and the United States, are greater than formerly existed between comparable pairs of countries. These differences probably reflect, on the one hand, crucial differences in economic and technological development. On the other hand, they may also reflect a new implication of differences in the size of national outputs—namely, that certain very sophisticated lines of production (such as nuclear energy or nuclear weapons) demand a scale of effort that only large and highly developed countries can afford.
A nation may possess a large economic potential for military activities but refrain from mobilizing it for this purpose. Large economic potential for military power does not necessarily equal large military power. Power potential, therefore, depends on what may be called military motivation—that is, upon the will among members of society to supply men and other resources to the military subsystem. The production and employment of military power are organized, collective actions. Power potential is action potential, and action results from motivation. Since the production and use of military power are organized by government, it is through the political process that a society’s military motivation is aggregated. However, that motivation expresses itself not only in determining the stream of men and resources made available to the military sector; it also conditions those other aspects of personal behavior that are relevant to the output of power and are often referred to as “morale.” Broadly speaking, the military potential of a society depends upon the capacity of its members to forgo the satisfaction of wants and preferences—whether they are concerned with safety, income, consumption, status, leisure, respect, self-direction, or other values—that compete with the demands of the military subsystem (Knorr 1956, p. 67). This does not mean that the individual or group pursuit of such values necessarily conflicts with the production and use of national military power, for some individuals may gain in status, respect, income, and so forth from serving the military sector. Zero war potential would obtain if all the members of a nation were intensely dedicated to goals and preferences that, in every way, prevented military power from being produced or used and that they were completely unwilling to neglect even temporarily.
Military motivation is a concept beset with difficulties. Its systematic examination awaits further progress in relevant social science research. There is the additional difficulty that the willingness of a society to undertake a military effort obviously depends on the nature of international conflicts and of available choices for resolving them, and on the way in which these conflicts and choices are perceived. However, societies also have a certain underlying disposition or readiness to accept military postures and actions, and the personal sacrifices they demand. Historians frequently refer to societies as “warlike” or “peaceful,” and political leaders often speak of certain nations as highly likely or unlikely to fight—images obviously based on the record of past national behavior. We are concerned here with particular patterns of values, or cultural standards, that affect a society’s attitudes toward international violence and national preparation for it. Since these standards are more or less internalized during the process of socialization—although they are no doubt susceptible to the impact of adult experience and learning—it is assumed that a society’s underlying mode of readiness to react to military threats or opportunities usually undergoes only gradual change. This subject likewise stands in need of further conceptual and empirical research before important questions can find more than an intuitive answer. Thus, the dichotomy between “warlike” and “peaceful” is obviously far too simple. A “peaceful” nation may be basically and abidingly averse to the use of military power, or, although strongly preferring the peaceful resolution of international conflicts, it may reveal a high military motivation once it feels sufficiently provoked. In the latter case, a high threshold of provocation must be crossed before that society’s underlying willingness to authorize military action is released—in other words, before its military motivation potential is mobilized.
The literature also lacks plausible hypotheses on the relation between military motivation potential and different political and social systems and, therefore, on whether the military motivation of nations tends to vary with forms of government. Two observations may be made. First, the willingness of a society to forgo the satisfaction of civilian wants and preferences competing with the demands of the military sector differs among groups that may also differ in formal and informal political influence. Second, whatever the structure of politics, political influence between government and governed is reciprocal, although the balance of influence may vary greatly from system to system. An authoritarian or totalitarian government (or elite) that is itself endowed with a strong military motivation and exerts a powerful influence on the relevant motivation of the rest of the population will tend to lend a high military motivation potential to the country involved and presumably will find it easy to mobilize this potential, In contrast, a democratic government that reflects or confronts a basically low military motivation in the electorate can do little to increase, and perhaps even to mobilize, the military potential of the nation. However, the historical record contains many democratic nations with a high potential and many authoritarian countries with a low one. The possible patterns are many and complex and do not encourage generalizations on the comparative power potential of nations with different forms of government. From this point of view, the military motivation potential of societies is an empirical question, which can be answered on the basis of empirical research.
Whatever the military economic potential of a society and whatever its military motivation potential, its output of military power may be relatively large or small depending on the efficiency with which the military sub-system employs the resources supplied to it. The military sector uses inputs in the form of manpower, funds, industrial capacity, research physicists, in order to produce various military forces and supplies, military doctrine and strategy, and all the elements that, in the aggregate, constitute the nation’s power.
In the modern age, the different production tasks are extraordinarily numerous and complex, involving difficult choices to be made in the face of various uncertainties. Moreover, the production processes are complicated and lengthy, requiring highly coordinated action and involving a great deal of time, often many years, for their completion. The efficiency problem is encountered on many levels. The industrial enterprises used for manufacturing military hardware may be more or less efficient in their employment of scarce resources; so may be the military services that must transform recruits into competent soldiers and officers; so is the planning and implementation of military research and development (which loom ever larger in the military power equation of modern nations); and so are the crucial choices of present and future weapons systems and strategies, intricately phased out and in over time as technology and strategic requirements change.
Efficiency is a matter not only of choosing the right military end products and components, and of producing them at the least cost in economic and bureaucratic resources, but also of the speed with which decisions are made and implemented. Until a few decades ago, military technology—and with it strategy and doctrine—changed only slowly. By the 1960s the pace of change had become explosive and the administration of the military sector far less able to rely on lessons from past experience. Since major weapon systems take years to develop and produce, a time lag of even one year may have an important bearing on national military power.
Administrative military potential resides essentially in the efficiency of several bureaucracies, especially in business, in the armed services, in special research organizations, and in various government departments. In these structures, competence depends on the conceptual realism with which tasks are understood, the intelligence and training of the directing and staff personnel, the efficiency with which information is procured and used, the efficiency with which many necessarily decentralized operations are coordinated, the quality of the analytical techniques and instruments employed for identifying and evaluating choices in problem solving, and all the other conditions that make for good and prompt decisions and their efficient and prompt execution.
Power potential in a changing world
As long as there is military power, power potential will, of necessity, remain important. However, the implications of power potential and, still more, the nature and relative weights of its constituents are notably sensitive to changes in the international system and to changes in technology and economic productivity. Industrialization and the accelerating progress of arms technology have had a revolutionary impact on the nature of national military power and power potential. As economic development and scientific and technological progress continue, the demands of the military sector on societies will tend to undergo further revision, and power potential will rise or fall depending on the society’s ability to meet these changing demands for particular inputs of resources.
The future may also bring more or less radical changes in the properties of the international system and its parts. Thus, the consolidation of nation-states into larger units may have far-reaching effects on military power relationships, including comparative power potentials. Similarly, the establishment of various kinds of arms control and disarmament could affect the significance of power potential. It is interesting that the concept of war potential figured importantly in the exploration of disarmament during the 1920s and early 1930s (Inter-parliamentary Union 1931, chapters 3-5), because war potential was expected to become a more decisive factor in the international power balance as states limited their mobilized forces. Similarly, the military potential of nations would change in the future if nuclear weapons were abolished or drastically reduced in number. If general and complete disarmament occurred, and the disarmed world turned out to be highly unstable politically, rearmament or its threat might become a major political factor, and military potential would remain a major element in international relations.
The study of power potential
The importance of military potential in interstate power relations and in the calculations of statesmen stands in odd contrast to the paucity of rigorous social science literature on the subject. There are good reasons for this contrast. Although the basic concept of power potential is clear enough, it refers to a reality so complex and embracing so much of the political, social, economic, and cultural life of nations that it resists detailed definition and, on the whole and in many particulars, defies measurement. Who can measure the military motivation potential of a society, or its military administrative competence, or even its military economic potential? The first two are customarily regarded as “imponderables,” and the important qualitative aspects of the last are not measured by the GNP or similar indices. Resistance to quantification is of course a common property of many social phenomena. It is lowest in the demographic and economic areas, where a great many data, although of greatly varying quality, are readily available. The structure of populations and labor forces can be roughly compared, and so can the capacity of many industries. It is nevertheless impossible, at least as yet, to compute comparable aggregate values for the economic war potential of nations.
Comparing military motivation potentials is much more problematical. Comparative defense budgets, terms of military service, and similar data are indicators of some interest. But it is patently difficult to infer motivation from behavior, and all we may be able to appraise in these instances is current rather than potential motivation. To estimate administrative military potential is yet more difficult, for to evaluate the outputs of the military sector, short of war, is even harder than to evaluate the inputs it receives.
But in this context, as in many others, “difficult” questions are not necessarily hopeless operations. Ingenious effort may yield worthwhile, although imperfect, results. The fact is that statesmen, government officials, and military men are continuously engaged in comparing the military power, including the power potential, of nations. If they did not do so, they would be unable to perform their tasks. Their comparisons may be extremely crude and largely represent intuitive judgment. Sound intuition, however, is anchored in observation, however haphazard, fragmentary, or impressionistic. Surely, whatever is done haphazardly and impressionistically can, in principle, be done more rigorously, or at least be greatly assisted, by means of empirical analysis and the formation and testing of hypotheses. The fact that this effort is lacking does not argue its impracticability. It is probable that the social sciences, especially as they progress further in analytical capability, could achieve a great deal more in this neglected area of application.
[See alsoEconomic warfare; International politics; Strategy. Other relevant material may be found inInternational relations; Military; Power; War.]
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