Briefly, here is a juxtaposition of posts worth looking at that portray war through the lens of the social scientist:
…Rather, it would be better to re-concieve the study of strategic affairs as a multi-disciplinary social science major combining sociology, international relations, philosophy, political science, cognitive science, economics, history, and “pure” military theory. This would be intellectually rigorous enough to banish forever the stereotype of the armchair general and the wargamer.
I see learning about strategy in itself as the key aim of such a curriculum–the goal would be to produce a student able to either apply his or her learnings in a think-tank or government, join the armed forces, come up with reasonable anti-war critiques as an activist, resolve conflict as a humanitarian, or apply strategy in the corporate world.
War as a social science akin to sociology or economics would bring empirical and quantitative rigor into the study of military history and affairs on the undergraduate level as well as a focus on the mechanics of war (tactics, operational art, strategy, and grand strategy) rarely seen outside of a Professional Military Education (PME).
….In the article, titled “A Natural History of Peace,” Stanford Professor Robert M. Sapolsky compares and contrasts human aggressive tendencies with well-documented propensities for violence among several species of primates, and develops a case suggesting that human aggression of the kind that produces warfare mainly stems from the genetic impulses rooted in humans as primates (not a new suggestion of itself). But more significantly, he offers proof extracted from a now robust body of field work that even strong genetic tendencies for violence in certain species of primates can be mitigated by exposure to the equivalent of “cultural” forces. He singles out from the body of such observations the case history of one group of baboons (a particularly aggressive and violent species of primate) that he calls the Forest Troop, the intensely aggressive behavior of which was ameliorated after exposure to the more peaceful and tolerant “mores” of another baboon troop of an identical species with which the Forest Troop had come in contact. He concludes by asserting that “some primate species can make peace despite violent traits that seem built into their natures.” He goes on to muse, “The challenge now is to figure out under what conditions that can happen, and whether humans can manage the trick themselves.”
Sapolsky’s argument frames the issues associated with the current global conflict in which the United States is now engaged in a potentially very useful light: as a biological problem best understood and dealt with using means specifically tailored to deal with human genetic tendencies in order to promote cooperation and tolerance instead of competitive violence. This stands in contrast to the current approach which appears to assume that the conflict mainly results from a combination of cultural and economic factors that can be dealt with by a strategy that combines selected violence, targeted monetary investments mixed, and cross cultural messages through so called strategic communications.
The Social Sciences are a powerful but fractionating, reifying lens. Individually, they unearth certain aspects of large and highly complex phenomena albeit at the cost, at times, of distorting the proportional importance to the whole of the aspect that the social scientist chooses to study. The sociobiological perspective is a radical and controversial one but it is a position that is far more open to empirical investgation in a scientific sense than are many traditional components of strategic theorizing. At Rethinking Security, Adam wisely tries to balance the heavy load of quantitative methods in his proposed program with at least a few qualitative disciplines; input from military practitioners and security experts would also be helpful to the prospective student in this regard as well.