Better Military Technology Does Not Lead to Shorter Wars, Analysis Reveals
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Date posted: 03/04/2010
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It is generally assumed that military technology that is offensive rather than defensive in nature leads to shorter wars. Yet, a new doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows that this assumption is not correct.

For long, researchers have thought that offensive military technology, such as armoured cars and attack jets, makes it easier to shorten the duration of a war. It is also generally perceived that when the offensive technology is more effective than the defensive technology, it is more advantageous to start a war.

"While this may be seen in some wars where the attacker is clearly superior, it is not true on average. This means that the improved military technology has not resulted in any advantages for the attacking force, at least not in terms of war duration," says Marco Nilsson, who recently earned his PhD from the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg.

To investigate the effect of offensive technology on war duration, Nilsson statistically analysed all wars in the state system from 1817 to 1992. Interestingly, he did not find any effect at all.

"I found that, in reality, the potential advantages of attack-oriented technology is limited by for example terrain, technological development, training of military personnel, climate, weather and norms. Due to these limitations, attack-oriented technology normally does not allow a state to run over an enemy as easily as expected. Unless the attacked country collapses right away, the duration of most wars is decided at the negotiation table," says Nilsson.

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