The predictive power of the social sciences is poor. That of the science of international relations is particularly mediocre, since it deals with a type of social action—the conduct of foreign policy—that is pervaded by uncertainty and in which even the most carefully calculated actions partake of gambling. Therefore, to try to forecast the chances of “international military force” in general during the years to come would be an exercise in futility. There are, however, two tasks which a political scientist can begin to perform. One consists of making the necessary distinctions; they may appear tiresome to the general reader and trifling to the impatient reformer, but both those gentlemen ought to remember that the opposite of distinctions is confusion. The second task consists of examining what kinds of international forces appear to be compatible with the international system in which we live.
1 Stanley Hoffmann is Professor of Government at Harvard University and a member of the Board of Editors of International Organization.