In their 2013 book Reimagining Business History, Philip Scranton and Patrick Fridenson called on business historians to reassess militarization and the “two-way exchanges” between the military and the private sector. The call is timely. The extensive business-historical scholarship on the relationship between companies and war sensibly focuses on companies that profited from their involvement in the military-industrial complex.
The business-historical literature is virtually silent, however, on the role of business in preventing wars from starting in the first place. In other words, business historians have missed a productive opportunity to engage with capitalist peace theory (CPT), an increasingly important theory in the discipline of international relations (IR). Many IR scholars now argue that the mutual economic interdependence characteristic of global capitalism reduces the likelihood of war. Their research suggests that while extensive cross-border economic linkages do not preclude the possibility of war, the creation of a transnational community of economic interests tends, ceteris paribus, to reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of warfare.