Does the War Cycle cause more wars during the amplification phases?

In this article, the expression “War Cycle” should be understood as the expression “War Cycle of the Return” in reference to the origin of this “War Cycle” from the Return Theory.

Demonstration Hypothesis

If the “War Cycle” favors wars, it would be logical to demonstrate that there are more wars during the amplification phases.

To verify this, the hypothesis was made to count the number of wars per year from a pre-existing list of wars and to calculate the total of wars for mitigation and amplification phases. If the total number of wars during the amplification phases is more important than for the mitigation phases, it could help to demonstrate the reality of an influcence of this War Cycle on the overall wars

After searching on a search engine for an existing database that could provide a list of wars, the list of wars associated with the V4 version of “Correlates of War” was selected. It contains the list of wars from 1816 to 2007. (Although there is a V6 version of the COW database, I did not find a list of wars equivalent to the V4 version, which is why I used the V4)

For each year from 1900 to 2007 were counted the number of wars per year then during the phases of mitigation and amplification. In addition a graph was made to try to show the peaks of amplification. A comparison was made with the theoretical peaks of the amplification phases.

Demonstration Result

From 1900 to 2000 (the later years are not taken into account so that there are as many mitigation phases as amplification phases ), there are 38% more wars during the amplification phases than during the mitigation phases. Of 342 wars on the COW list during this period, 58% are in the amplification phases.

From 1942 to 2000 (with the same number of mitigation and amplification phases), there are 59% more wars during the amplification phases than during the mitigation phases. Of 225 wars on the COW list during this period, 61% are in the amplification phases.

On the other hand, the graph does not objectively show peaks similar to the theoretical peaks of amplification and attenuation. This is probably due to the fact that the number of wars per year is still relatively low, but could also be due to the list of wars used. The result is only significant if we take the total number for all years of the amplification phases and the total number for all years of the mitigation phases.

This finding raises several questions:

  • Is the list of wars used objective?
    There is no (or at least I do not know of), to date, a database on wars that is an accepted reference for all actors interested in this subject. It is a colossal task to have such a database that would serve as a reference for all statistics. It would be necessary to have one in order to arrive at an objective statistical demonstration. The list of COW wars used should pose little challenge.
  • Are 38% and 59% more wars, depending on the periods selected, significant?
    There is a relatively small but real amplification of wars that confirms what has been observed in the contexts described with the “war cycle”.

Limits of the demonstration

Several limitations are known:

  • The list of wars used contains only the year of its outbreak, without indicating the precise date. As a consequence, one would have to go back to the list and add the exact date of the beginning of the war, and then check for each war whether or not it is in the mitigation or amplification phase. In the first demonstration presented, the phase of the year is defined if the phase is longer than 6 months in the year.
  • The list of wars puts all wars on the same level, from the smallest to the biggest. Sometimes, it is only slightly violent demonstrations that are considered as wars. To confirm a phenomenon of amplification and attenuation, it would be necessary to define a weight for each war.

From 1900 to 1941, is it significant?

The number of wars during the attenuation phases from 1900 to 1941 is almost the same as during the amplification phases of the same period.

Does this result mean that there is no “War Cycle” demonstrated over the period 1900 to 1941?

When we look at the list of COW wars, we see that:

  • There are 8 wars during the mitigation phase from 1934 to 1937
  • There are 5 wars during the amplification phase from 1938 to 1941

It is paradoxical to claim that the period preceding the Second World War from 1934 to 1937 was more violent than the period from 1938 to 1941, which includes three years of the Second World War. Why such a result? Because during World War II, the list of COW wars shows almost no wars other than World War II. The successive wars started during the second world war are not visible.

What to conclude? Starting from a simple list of wars, even if it is validated by the actors involved in war studies, is not enough. A monstrous war like the Second World War has less weight in this statistical calculation than the small wars that preceded the Second World War. And yet the 2 world wars help to demonstrate the “War Cycle” by the method of contexts.

Is it enough to refuse to take into account this calculation? YES, and this poses a global problem of method.

Documents to redo the calculation

Click on the link to access the document:

Update August 8, 2022

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