The world is full of violent conflict today. Civil war rages within a number of the most fragile states, including Syria, Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Congo and elsewhere. In relation to that, there has been a resurgence of international terrorism. But there is one hugely significant area where the level of violent conflict is historically low, namely when it comes to interstate war, that is, war between independent states. Sceptical realists are not impressed by this development; liberal optimists are much more encouraged. I argue that the liberals have the upper hand on this issue. This chapter makes the claim that interstate war is of significantly decreasing importance in world politics. For realists, the history of world politics is the history of war; their argument is connected to the existence of anarchy among states. The international system is a system of independent political units, the sovereign states. There is no central authority above the states, no overarching government; in that sense, the system is anarchic. Because of anarchy, war is always a possibility and peace must always be momentary.
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