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One of the great debates in the study of international conflict involves the relation between the polarization of an international system and the outbreak of war In its simplest form this debate centers on whether bipolarity or multipolarity is more likely to lead to war This paper analyzes these concepts with examples from World War I and the Korean War More specifically this paper will seek to answer the question as to why the United States waited three years in a mulitpolar world to go to war World War One and only 2 days in a bipolar world Korean War I will first provide an overview of polarity in the international system an overview of both wars and finally analyze both wars in relation to polarity and the United States entry into each war This paper does not so much concern itself with the details of each of the wars as so much as the overall analysis of each war Bipolarity refers to a situation in which the international system or one of its subsystems is dominated by two superpowers each with a supporting block of relatively weak allies Multipolarity refers to an opposite condition in which more than two great powers play dominant roles in the international system Many scholars have argued that one or the other creates a more peaceful world J David Singer and Karl Deutsch would argue that for two reasons multipolarity is more stable ie more likely to remain in a steady peaceful state than bipolarity First in a bipolar world all conflicts involve the nations of one side against those of the other so that each side comes to regard the other as the enemy In a mulitpolar world interaction patterns increase in complexity and variety An enemy on one issue becomes an ally on another Second as the number of poles increases each actor is forced to divide his attention among more and more poles This divided
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