It is now possible to get into the details of my argument by defining its three conceptual building blocks: instrumental dependence, normative difference, and political relevance. Instrumental dependence refers to the state's degree of reliance on society to provide the resources, mostly manpower, needed to execute national security policies. Normative difference refers to the distance between the position of the state and that of the liberal forces (that give meaning to the term society) concerning the legitimacy of the demand for sacrifice and for brutal conduct. Political relevance refers to the inherent degree of influence societal forces have over policy-choices or their outcomes. Political relevance is attributed to groups, which among other things can make their preferences salient in the political discourse. Democracies, then, differ from other states in terms of the political power citizens routinely exercise and in terms of what agenda they may promote - that is, democracies are unique in terms of the normative difference they may experience and the political relevance their citizens enjoy.
With these definitions in mind, the fundamental elements of my thesis can presented. I submit that modern democracies lose protracted small wars because in situations of deep instrumental dependence, the politically most relevant citizens create a normative difference of insurmountable proportions. Essentially, what prevents modern democracies from winning small wars is disagreement between state and society over expedient and moral issues that concern human life and dignity. The details of this thesis and the consequences of my argument are discussed throughout this book. Nevertheless,
I offer here a preview of the mechanism of democratic failure in small wars.
This presumably trivial logic is illustrated in Figure 1.1. The vertical axis represents increasing levels of tolerance to casualties and the horizontal axis represents increasing levels of tolerance to brutal engagement of the enemy. The curve constitutes a theoretical continuum of combinations of tolerance for Casualties and tolerance for violence that a state has to achieve in order to win Q war. This curve of the balance-of-tolerance illustrates how the two types of tolerance are related. The less tolerance a society displays in one dimension, the more it must display in the other, if the state is to win the war.
The idea of a curve of the balance-of-tolerance can be understood even more clearly by considering the two theoretical extremes (or ideal types) that are represented in zones A and B. Zone A represents the place of a state whose society is ready to accept great sacrifices but vehemently opposes violence against others - that is, this society may be heavily bled by others, but being thoroughly pacific, it will refuse to shed their blood. Obviously, no matter how well endowed and equipped this "altruist" state is, it can hardly fight,
M Kugler and Domke, "Comparing the Strength of Nations," 39-71.
Let alone win, conventional ground wars. Zone B represents a state whose society is thoroughly unscrupulous but is also hypersensitive to casualties. Such a "psychopathic" state is almost as unfit as the altruistic state to win ground wars, though for an entirely different reason.
Figure i.i can also serve to illustrate the idea of normative difference. Zones A and B can be seen as each representing a case of such one-dimensional difference. Zone A (of the "altruistic" state) represents a morality-based difference, whereas zone B (of the "psychopathic" state) represents an expediency-based difference. In reality, the normative difference democracies experience during protracted small wars is not entirely based on either expediency or morality. Liberal societies are not thoroughly "spoiled" nor utterly moral. Thus, the typical normative difference reflects gaps over both which cost of war is expediently justified and what war objectives and methods are morally acceptable. Zone C in Figure i.i illustrates this typical normative difference. It consists of the gap between the winning balances-of-tolerance that the state seeks to secure in order to win a war, and the cost and violence society is ready to tolerate, without state intervention.
It is important emphasize that tin1 problem of achieving a balance of tolerance, and the success of politically relevant groups to create a debilitating normative difference, are relatively recent, and confined to democracies. Traditionally, the use of violence abroad did not involve difficulties it) home. Subjects were often unwilling to sacrifice their money or life to underwrite their leaders' military adventures abroad, but they did not care about the fate of foreigners, be they insurgents or the civil population that supported the latter. Indeed, as long as attitudes toward inflicting violence externally did not change, the question of whether and how to conquer, subjugate, and pacify communities was dominated only by expediency - namely, the concern over the availability of resources. Ultimately, only the development of democratic political institutions and an educated liberal constituency ill the West have changed this state of affairs.
It is also important to note that the normative difference in warring democracies is likely to be most pronounced in cases of small wars because they are not existential. And it is equally important to understand that it takes time for democracies to experience the full effect of the normative difference. It simply takes casualties to accumulate and brutality to increase and be "observed" by society before the anti-war constituency acquires a critical mass and acts with full force. Once these have been achieved, the anti-war constituency can take control over the agenda, shape the terms of the public debate, and shift the war's center of gravity from the battlefield to the marketplace of ideas, where the state's capacity to pursue its objectives in checked.
Finally, it is worth emphasizing the special role of instrumental dependence in this sequence of developments. The potential size and power of the anti-war coalition depends in large measure on the sort and number of people who are personally affected by the war - that is, the fate of the war depends on the nature and scope of military mobilization. Or, explained in Conceptual terms, the relation between the autonomy of the state and instrumental dependence in democracies is negative in times of small wars. In the long run, a greater reliance on conscription and reservists reduces the capacity of the state to act in the battlefield with unrestrained force, to pursue fir-reaching objectives, and to win the war.