The importance of military factors in international relations may seem obvious, but the causal linkages are often difficult to define. Surveying a long sweep of history, and the ins and outs of offensive weaponry, George H. Quester offers an overview of how military technology has shaped our international system.Contemporary events have made this book as timely as ever. As Americans renew the debate on mi"ssile defense, and as the danger of nuclear-capable rogue states and their terrorist allies is evident as never before, the need to understand the differences between defensive and offensive weapons has taken on a new urgency. Quester shows that very careful analysis is required here, as some important elementary distinctions need to be drawn. His analysis covers naval and air warfare, as well as ground combat, and he deals with the offensive or defensive leanings of guerrilla warfare.Quester compares the post-World War II nuclear balance with military situations before 1945. Quester also ties in domestic economic, social, political, and scientific trends, and how they influence international politics. Quester considers when a military situation favors striking first in a crisis(an offensive situation), and when a nation may be better off waiting for the other side to begin a war(defensive). In his new introduction, Quester reviews the post-Cold War debate among political and military analysts as to the contemporary relevance of these concepts and offers a powerful rebuttal to those who would dismiss the offense/defense distinction as outmoded, illusory, or a function of propaganda.Above all, the book demonstrates that we can learn a great deal from our recent and not-so-recent historical experience with nuclear weaponry. Nuclear weapons and their proliferation make the area of international conflict more perilous than ever. This book will be of interest to military analysts and students of international affairs.George H. Quester is professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. His books include Nuclear Monopoly, Deterrence Before Hiroshima (both available from Transaction), Nuclear Diplomacy, The Politics of Nuclear Proliferation, and American Foreign Policy: The Lost Consensus.