War and the Cycle of Relative Power
Whether the extensiveness of a war is defined in terms of duration, intensity or magnitude, major powers are likely to initiate more extensive wars at the critical inflection and turning points on the curve of relative capability where the linear role perceptions held by government and society change pervasively.
Capability itself is composed of two principal dimensions:
a) Size: GNP, territory, armed forces, population
b) Development: per capita income, urbanization, technological sophistication.
Relative capability of a major power at any time is the percent of the total capability among the major powers it holds at that time.
Tendencies which contribute to imprudent use of force and the adoption of unyielding foreign policy positions are most severe at points “b” and “d” where the shock of role adjustment is most wrenching.
Relative power dynamics may tell us something of the timing of the bigger wars in which a major power trapped.
It appears that governments and societies find adjustment to new behavioral roles difficult and become invulnerable to hyper-insecurity and aggressiveness at critical points where the direction of the evolutionary outlook changes pervasively.