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Article

Will H. Moore and Ahmer Tarar

A significant shift has taken place within the study of international relations (IR) generally, and within the domestic-international conflict linkage literature specifically. This shift has helped to address a number of important weaknesses that used to be observed within the literature on the domestic sources of foreign policy. Initially, political science was largely focused on macrostructural analyses of “political systems” and institutions (understood as formal-legal documents and rules). The research that eschewed the paradigmatic separation of domestic and international politics had a strong macrostructural bent to it, rather than a theoretical focus on microfoundations and causal processes. The field later went through a “behavioral revolution,” which brought an emphasis on data collection, hypothesis testing, statistical inference, and a focus on political behavior (especially as recorded in survey research). Hence, in recent years, much more emphasis has been placed on examining the precise microfoundations for how domestic politics might affect international relations, and vice-versa. The contemporary literature that earlier scholars have called the “domestic-international nexus” is largely engaged in debates about five important causal processes, each of which is best understood as being caused by strategic interaction among utility maximizing actors: principal-agent dynamics, informational asymmetries and uncertainty in bargaining situations, signaling, credibility, and coalition politics.

Article

Caroline A. Hartzell and Amy Yuen

With wars—not just global, but civil wars and other domestic infightings—still being rampant in the modern world, scholars have begun to develop interest in identifying the conditions that can help establish a durable peace. Peace is a lack of conflict and freedom from fear of violence between social groups. Commonly understood as the absence of war or violent hostility, peace often involves compromise, and therefore is initiated with thoughtful active listening and communication to enhance and create genuine mutual understanding. The study of the durability of peace has greatly evolved through the years, and one of its implications is that recent empirical work on this topic has focused on civil war. Most of this study has been tailored in response to the model of war, a theory of armed conflict which presents war and peace as stages of a single process. Furthermore, this analysis on peace duration revolves around for main themes: the characteristics of conflict and conflict actors, belligerent-centered dynamics, the role of third parties, and the developments in the measurement, estimation, and the study of peace duration. Under the conceptions of peace, sustainable peace must be regarded as an important factor for the future of prosperity. Throughout the world, nurturing, empowerment, and communications are considered to be the crucial factors in creating and sustaining a durable peace.

Article

As human tragedies—such as armed conflicts, humanitarian crises, crimes against humanity, and genocide—continue to occur, early warning and conflict prevention are essential comprehensive subjects in any crisis and conflict prevention architecture. Early warning refers to the collection and analysis of information about potential crisis and conflict situations for the purpose of preventing the onset and escalation of such situations, preferably through appropriate preventive response options. Indeed, qualitative approaches to early warning and prevention have produced an impressive list of preventive mechanisms and tools, ranging from non-military—such as political and economic inducements, fact-finding, dialogue, and negotiations—to military ones, such as preventive missions. Meanwhile, a more theoretical and empirically guided approach has made extensive use of quantitative methods to create data-based predictive models for assessing risks of complex humanitarian crises, political instability and state failure, intrastate and ethnopolitical conflicts, and genocide and politicide, as well as other massive human rights violations. There are three types of analysis of risk assessment: the first makes use of structural indicators, the second of sequential models, and the third of inductive methods. However, there are challenges in early warning and conflict prevention posed by the warning-response gap and the issue of “missed opportunities” to prevent. At present, there is no U.N.-wide coordinated early warning system. Nevertheless, several efforts in establishing operational early warning systems on the level of regional and subregional organizations can be identified.

Article

The theoretical and empirical literature on the reciprocal topics of economy and war have developed a fertile debate. Most contributions examine the liberal hope that growing economic bonds between or within nations reduce the risk of violent conflict, while an increasing number of studies also examine the destructive and redistributive effect of war, terrorism, and genocides. The article argues that most studies in the field do not provide clear microfoundations for the opportunity-cost arguments that are typically made to justify the deterring effects of increased economic interactions. To move the field forward, contributions need to focus more on how the relationship between business leaders and the government shapes decision making in periods of crisis. Recent advances have been made to understand the economic impact of massive political violence that can only be fully understood through the use of temporally disaggregated data.

Article

For some time, scholars have noticed that ethnic groups that are geographically concentrated or possess a “regional base” tend to become embroiled in anti-state rebellion at a much higher rate than other ethnic groups. Countries with higher numbers of geographically concentrated ethnic minorities and self-determination movements tend to see more internal violence. Furthermore, if popular demands for independence exist, they may or may not reach serious political expression, and that expression may take various forms, from electoral action to protest or outright rebellion. The form of expression depends on institutional constraints and various factors that generate reasons for conflict; however, not all attempts at secession are done with violence. Many secessionist organizations have in fact refrained from violence, and some governments permit secessionists to organize, to contest elections, and even to pursue independence through the political process. Recently, scholarship has begun to move away from the determinants of popular demands for sovereignty to the dynamics of secessionist mobilization, including collective protest and rebellion. This research sees the struggle between nationalists and the state in the context of game theory, particularly deterrence models, and generally stresses concepts such as capability, information, and credibility. Secessionism overall remains a research frontier in both comparative politics and international relations.

Article

Terrorism has been described variously as a tactic and strategy, a crime and a holy duty, as well as a justified reaction to oppression and an inexcusable abomination. Nationalist terrorism is a form of terrorism motivated by nationalism. Nationalist terrorists seek to form self-determination in some form, which may range from gaining greater autonomy to establishing a completely independent, sovereign state. Nationalist terrorism is linked to a national, ethnic, religious, or other identifying group, and the feeling among members of that group that they are oppressed or denied rights, especially rights accorded to others. But while terrorism has more often been based on revolutionary politics, there has also been an increase in terrorist activity motivated by religion. Terrorist acts done in the name of religion typically aim to enforce a system of belief, viewpoint or opinion. The validity and scope of religious terrorism is limited to an individual’s view or a group’s view or interpretation of that belief system’s teachings. There are some researchers, however, who argue that religion should be considered only one incidental factor and that such terrorism is primarily geopolitical. Meanwhile, ethnic violence refers to violence expressly motivated by ethnic hatred and ethnic conflict. The minimum requirement for ethnic tensions to result in ethnic violence on a systemic level is a heterogeneous society and the lack of a power to prevent them from fighting.

Article

Kimberly Marten

As a response to the new policy problems facing the international community after the end of the Cold War, the security studies literature on weak and failing states and their relationship to various forms of conflict emerged. Two sets of events caused policy makers to focus on state weakness as a threat to international security. The first wave of research was generated by the new United Nations (UN)-sponsored peace operations of the post-Cold War era. The second overlapping wave of research followed the al-Qaeda attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, and the resulting perception that non-state terrorist groups were likely to use failed or failing states as their base of global operations. There has been no agreement among researchers about how to define the concept or varieties of state failure. As such, it has not coalesced into something that could truly be called a scholarly research program. Nevertheless, a vibrant literature has emerged on the political economy of “ungoverned territories.” Warlords are actors who use a combination of force, charisma, and patronage to control small slices of territory inside of what is purportedly a sovereign state. They usually profit from organized criminal activities that threaten both the peace and the legal institutions of the state, but can be used to help weak states to survive and reconstitute themselves in wartime. Meanwhile, scholars argue whether states should necessarily be reconstructed after they fail, given that many failed states were unnatural and authoritarian postcolonial creations.

Article

In contrast with humanitarian access or the provision of humanitarian assistance, humanitarian intervention is commonly defined as the threat or use of force by a state to prevent or end widespread and grave violations of the fundamental human rights of individuals other than its own citizens, without the permission of the state within whose territory force is applied. In support of their cause, advocates of humanitarian intervention often draw upon and reference the authority of the notional “just war.” The four main ways by which humanitarian intervention has been connected to the idea of the just war relate to the ideals of self-determination, punishment, responsibility, and conditional sovereignty. For a humanitarian intervention to be considered legitimate, there must be a just cause for intervention; the use of force must be a last resort; it must meet the standard of proportionality; and there must be a good likelihood that the use of force will contribute to a positive humanitarian outcome. The historical practice of humanitarian intervention can be traced from the nineteenth century to the recognition of the Responsibility to Protect by the World Summit in 2005 and its application in Darfur. Major conceptual debates surrounding humanitarian intervention include the problematic relation between sovereignty and human rights, the legal status of intervention, the issue of multilateralism versus unilateralism, and the quest for criteria for intervention.

Article

Kenneth J. Campbell

Genocide is an interdisciplinary problem for scholars; no single academic discipline has yet taken on the study of genocide in a serious, systematic, and significant way, let alone placed an exclusive claim on it. The historical development of the genocide literature begins with the emergence of Holocaust studies, and the word “genocide” itself was coined in 1944, during World War II. Comparative genocide studies were later developed, in addition to the post-Cold War explosion in the second generation literature on genocide. The scholarly questions on genocide that have been fairly well settled—at least to a certain extent—have to do with core elements of the definition of genocide. This literature, in short, focuses on three principal concerns: definition, explanation, and prevention. What emerges out of the genocide literature over the years is consensus on the fact that genocide is the destruction of people as members of a group. They are differences over which groups should be covered by the definition—for instance, political and socioeconomic groups—but not on the fact that the victims have been targeted because of their group identity, and no other reason. To supplement the scholarship on genocide, future research agendas might include a careful study of the growing transnational antigenocide movement, a comparative analysis of genocide leaders, and many more.

Article

Extreme political violence, i.e., genocide, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes, can be examined within three explanatory frameworks important to geographical thought: nature and society; spatial identities; and geopolitics. Extreme violence is often closely associated with humanity’s failure to overcome human nature. These are fundamentally geographical concerns in the sense that they relate to geography’s central interest in humans and their environment. Scholarly works abound with Hobbesian images, often presenting primitive violence as a pervasive social condition in the absence of an effective ruler. The literature on state failure presumes the same contradiction between nature and the social-political order, but in reverse: without a conventional sovereign, social conflict emerges over basic resources. These theories suggest that the causes of extreme political violence can be identified at the intersection of nature and society, where human behavior cannot be extricated from its biological and environmental condition. Identity is understood primarily as cultural difference. Identities are an important element in any explanation of extreme political violence given that it stems from conflict between sociopolitical groups that are defined by some degree of cultural difference. Classical geopolitical analysis of extreme political violence has retained environmental and biological factors as ultimate causes. They assume that scarcity of resources and population growth drive culture, territorialism, and conflict. In contrast, contemporary and critical approaches focus on the language and action of politics, such as statecraft, diplomacy, and popular mobilization.

Article

Steven V. Miller, Jaroslav Tir, and John A. Vasquez

Traditional, structural theories of international relations may have eschewed the importance of geography and territory to understanding international conflict, but the past 50 years of quantitative scholarship have returned geography and territory to the fore of the discipline. The importance of geography and territory to the study of international conflict first emerged in the discipline of political geography and the early foundations of peace science. Subsequent empirical analyses demonstrated a robust connection between geography, particularly disputed territory, and all phases of inter-state conflict. Explanations for this robust relationship emerged concurrent to the empirical findings. The theoretical arguments are eclectic and focus on territoriality as human instinct, the tangible and intangible value of territory, and whether conflict over territory conforms well to implications from the bargaining framework. Though traditionally the domain of inter-state conflict scholars, civil conflict scholarship has greatly informed this research program on geography, territory, and conflict by expanding and enriching its theoretical arguments and empirical implications. The future of territorial conflict scholarship should focus on reconciling different theoretical arguments about the emergence of peace after World War II, wrestling with the future of territorial conflict as more territorial disputes are settled, providing richer data on territorial claims, and exploring the implications of global climate change for future conflict over scarce and changing waterways and maritime/river boundaries.

Article

The evolution of conceptions of insurgency and counterinsurgency can be traced across three periods: pre-Maoist, Maoist, and post-Maoist insurgency. The first and, arguably, the most influential theorist of insurgency was T.E. Lawrence, whose insights stemmed from his almost certainly exaggerated exploits in the Middle East in World War I. Lawrence described insurgency as a moral contest and not a physical one. Presaging later theorists of insurgency, he spoke of the necessity of a cause to motivate the insurgents. When analysts speak of “classical” insurgency they are referring to Maoist insurgency, whose strategic essence was the substitution “of propaganda for guns, subversion for air power, men for machines, space for mechanization, political for industrial mobilization.” Post-Maoist insurgency focuses on the “War on Terror” and its major campaigns. Three themes have emerged in insurgency research, which have gained more theoretical prominence and empirical grounding. The first is the notion that sound counterinsurgency depends upon good cultural understanding of the society in conflict. The second is the issue of reconstruction and development which is increasingly seen as the sine qua non of counterinsurgency. The third is the evolution of insurgency into the “virtual territories of the mind” caused by the advent of humanity in general into the Information Age.

Article

John Ferris

A large literature has emerged on intelligence and war which integrates the topics and techniques of two disciplines: strategic studies and military history. The literature on intelligence and war is divided into theory and strategy; command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I); sources; military estimates in peace; deception; conventional operations; strike; and counter-insurgency and guerilla warfare. Sun Tzu treats intelligence as central to all forms of power politics, and even defines strategy and warfare as “the way of deception.” On the other hand, C3I combines signals and data processing technology, command as thought, process and action, the training of people, and individual and bureaucratic modes of learning. Since 1914, the power of secret sources has risen dramatically in peace and war, revolutionizing the value of intelligence for operations, especially at sea. The strongest area in this study is signals intelligence. Meanwhile, the relationship of intelligence with war, and with power politics, overlaps on the matter of military estimates during peacetime. The literature on operational intelligence is strongest on World War II. However, analysts have particularly failed to differentiate the effect of intelligence on operations, from that on a key element of military power since 1914: strike warfare. In counter-insurgency, many types and levels of war and intelligence overlap, which include guerillas, conventional and strike forces, and politics in villages and capitals.

Article

International law and armed conflict have a rather contentious history together. One the one hand, armed conflict implies and absence of law, and yet, on the other, international law plays an important role in codifying the use of force. The UN Charter’s restrictions on the use of force, drafted in the waning days of a second cataclysmic world war, were intended to radically transform the centuries-old ideology of raison d’état, which viewed war as a sovereign prerogative. More precisely, Article 2(4) of the Charter forbids not just war but force of any kind, or even the threat of it. On its face, the Charter system is a model of simplicity, consisting of a clear prohibition and two exceptions to that prohibition. The apparent simplicity is misleading, however. Article 2(4) is violated so often that experts disagree about whether it should even be considered good law. The Chapter VII enforcement exception is rarely used, and the meaning of self-defense under Article 51 is the subject of contentious disagreement. Moreover, even some UN bodies have supported creating another exception (humanitarian intervention) that coexists uneasily with the organization’s foundational principles. In addition, there is yet another exception (the use of force by national liberation movements) that may be as significant as the others, yet is little discussed by contemporary commentators.

Article

International organization as an idea or an approach to political and social conflict management and resolution—now often referred to under the rubric of “global governance”—has been the subject of much discussion by scholars and practitioners, and has taken shape in numerous historical examples. A landmark figure in thinking about war, peace, and statecraft during the earliest period undoubtedly remains the classical Greek general and historian Thucydides (460–395 bce); his History of the Peloponnesian War, chronicling the conflict between the Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta, features prominently in virtually all discussions of the subsequent emergence and development of ideas and practices of conflict management. Succeeding scholars have built upon Thucydides’ ideas. While the earliest theorists and philosophers brought out important discussions of war causation, and basic notions of political-social conflict management in divergent settings, political thinking about the context of state interactions and new mechanisms for constraining state behavior had not yet—by the early seventeenth century—reached the era of preparation for international organization. That would wait another 200 years. In the nearly three centuries from the Thirty Years War to the beginning of World War I, scholars of international organization identified a number of proposals that arguably demonstrate the development, growth, and deepening of thought about such mechanisms.

Article

Martin S. Edwards and Jonathan M. DiCicco

International organizations (IOs) such as the United Nations play an important role in war prevention. In theory, IOs reduce the risk of war between belligerents by improving communication, facilitating cooperation, and building confidence and trust. In practice, however, IOs’ war-preventing capacities have sparked skepticism and criticism. Recent advances in the scholarly study of the causes of war have given rise to new and promising directions in research on IOs and war prevention. These studies highlight the problems of interstate and intrastate wars, global and regional organizations, preventive diplomacy and peacekeeping, and the relationship between IOs and domestic institutions. They also offer novel insights that both complement and challenge studies of traditional concepts such as collective security. An interesting work is that of J. D. Fearon, who frames war as a bargaining process between rational states. Fearon articulates a central puzzle of international relations: since war is costly, the question that arises is why rational leaders of competing states choose to fight instead of pursuing less costly, nonviolent dispute settlements. Three general mechanisms account for rational, unitary states’ inability to identify an alternative outcome that both would prefer to war: bluffing about private information, commitment problems, and indivisibility of stakes. Despite the obvious progress in research on IOs and war prevention, there remain methodological and theoretical issues that deserve consideration for further investigation, two of which are: the interaction of domestic and international organizations, and the implications of variations in IO design.

Article

Studying the initial steps of the militarized conflict process may help to better uncover regularized patterns that produce dangerous encounters and decision processes in world politics. An understanding of armed conflict short of war is essential if the international community hopes to prevent conflict escalation and contagion. Interstate war is increasingly viewed as the outcome of a complex decision-making process rather than of a single policy choice that commits a nation from peace to war. In this vein, examining lower-level violent conflict offers three immediate benefits. First, it increases the number of observations for empirical analysis. The second reason for is that wars typically begin as nonviolent disagreements over contentious issues. Third, examining low-level militarized conflict helps avoid, or at least helps to minimize, selection effects. In addition, recent scholarship on foreign policy decision making resulting in violent interstate conflict goes in two very different and possibly incompatible directions. First, theoretical and empirical attention to enduring rivalry suggests that lasting perceptions of threat between states establish an environment of mistrust and fear, which inhibits the resolution of contentious issues. A second research program defines the use of force as part of a larger bargaining process over the allocation of scarce resources.

Article

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, Kyle Beardsley, and Sara M. T. Polo

Conflict data sets can shed light on how different ways of measuring conflict (or any other international relations phenomenon) result in different conclusions. Data collection procedures affect our efforts to answer key descriptive questions about war and peace in the world and their relationship to other features of interest. Moreover, empirical data or information can answer some pointed questions about world politics, such as, “Has there been a decline in conflict in the international system?” The development of data on characteristics relevant to the study of international relations has undeniably allowed a great deal of progress to be made on many research questions. However, trying to answer seemingly simple descriptive questions about international relations often shows how data rarely speak entirely for themselves. The specific ways in which we pose questions or try to reach answers will often influence our conclusions. Likewise, the specific manner in which the data have been collected will often have implications for our inferences. In turn, proposed answers to descriptive questions are often contested by other researchers. Many empirical debates in the study of international relations, upon closer inspection, often hinge on assumptions and criteria that are not made fully explicit in studies based on empirical data.

Article

Caron E. Gentry

Alex J. Bellamy's Just Wars: From Cicero to Iraq (2006), Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars (1977), and Larry May's Aggression and Crimes Against Peace (2008) are three significant works on Just War thinking that offer unique perspectives on the different facets of jus ad bellum. Bellamy's book is a historical examination of the evolution of Just War thinking. Walzer's book is a classic and a crucial component of the Just War canon; this book brought Just War considerations back into political conversations. While classical Realism dominated the post-World War II political landscape for its own moral contemplations towards war and power, it was not able to speak to the anti-Vietnam agonism. Walzer purposefully set out to speak to these considerations in a frankly philosophical framework, one rooted in historical thought and examples. May has a unique voice within the Just War tradition— his starting point is a form of pacifism. Although this is somewhat controversial, it is not without precedence. One of the key pieces on nuclear weapons is the 1983 letter from the US Catholic Bishops that placed the Just War tradition within a pacifist framework. Similarly, May has set out to examine how this ancient tradition can fit the needs of the current international arena, particularly in light of humanitarian intervention.

Article

Robert Weiner

Genocide is described as the most extreme form of crime against humanity; Winston Churchill even called it the “crime with no name.” The word “genocide” was coined by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer who embarked on a mission to persuade the international community to accept genocide as an international crime under international law. In 1946, the first session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring genocide as a crime under international law. This resolution became the basis for the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, introduced in 1948. However, it would take another fifty years before the Genocide Convention would establish an International Criminal Court that would prosecute international war criminals. In the 1990s, special ad hoc tribunals were created for Yugoslavia and Rwanda to deal with international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. In reaction to the failure of the international community to deal with genocide in Rwanda, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the norm of “the Responsibility to Protect.” The Genocide Convention was tested in the case brought by Bosnia and Herzegovina against Serbia (originally Serbia and Montenegro) in 1993. It was the first time in history that a sovereign state was placed on trial for the commission of genocide. The implications and ramifications of the International Court of Justice’s ruling that the Serbian government did not commit genocide in Bosnia became a subject of considerable debate among legal scholars.