The Tragedy of Liberalism How Globalization Caused the First World War
The belief that globalization enhances peace, a central tenet of liberal theory, enjoys substantial support in recent scholarship on trade and conflict. To conclude that liberalism is right, however, is premature and wrong. Liberal theory is not sufficiently grounded in international trade theory to show how globalization generates constraints on military force, nor does it adequately link these constraints to strengthened peace. This article uses the Heckscher-Ohlin model of trade to connect globalization's economic effects to increased constraints on military force and then explores how, in the nineteenth century, globalization affected European peace. As liberal theory predicts, globalization generated substantial constraints on military force in prewar Europe. Yet there are important flaws in liberalism's logic linking these constraints to strengthened international peace. Contrary to liberal theory, globalization did not strengthen prospects for peace in prewar Europe but was a major cause of the First World War.