Journal of Conflict Resolution

Published by SAGE

Online ISSN: 1552-8766


Print ISSN: 0022-0027


Lebensraum: Paradoxically, Population Growth May Eventually End Wars
  • Article

April 1989


28 Reads

Julian L. Simon
Population growth may progressively reduce 1 of the motives for making war. Namely, population growth threatens shortages of resources, and especially land. Impending shortages cause a search for ways to mitigate the shortages. The discoveries eventually produce greater availability of resources than if population growth and pressure on resources had never occurred. The argument runs as follows: 1) Rhetoric about resources scarcity induced by population density has often contributed to international conflict, even if economics has not been the main motive in making war. 2) In the pre-modern era, war to obtain land and other resources may sometimes have been an economically sound policy. 3) Politicians and others in industrially developed nations believe resources may still be a casus belli. 4) Land and other productive resources are no longer worth acquiring at the cost of war.

Table 1 Descriptive Statistics of the Research Variables and Comparison among Those Who Were Exposed to Terrorism and Those Who Were Not
Figure 2 Structural Model (Standardized Regression Weights) for Predicting Exclusionist Political Attitudes in the Face of Personal Exposure to Terrorism Coefficients are Significant at the Level of p < .05  
Table 2 Bivariate Correlations among the Study Variables
A New Stress-Based Model of Political Extremism
  • Article
  • Full-text available

June 2009


565 Reads

Does exposure to terrorism lead to hostility toward minorities? Drawing on theories from clinical and social psychology, we propose a stress-based model of political extremism in which psychological distress-which is largely overlooked in political scholarship-and threat perceptions mediate the relationship between exposure to terrorism and attitudes toward minorities. To test the model, a representative sample of 469 Israeli Jewish respondents was interviewed on three occasions at six-month intervals. Structural Equation Modeling indicated that exposure to terrorism predicted psychological distress (t1), which predicted perceived threat from Palestinian citizens of Israel (t2), which, in turn, predicted exclusionist attitudes toward Palestinian citizens of Israel (t3). These findings provide solid evidence and a mechanism for the hypothesis that terrorism introduces nondemocratic attitudes threatening minority rights. It suggests that psychological distress plays an important role in political decision making and should be incorporated in models drawing upon political psychology.

Targeting Nuclear Programs in War and Peace: A Quantitative Empirical Analysis, 1941-2000

November 2010


503 Reads

When do states attack or consider attacking nuclear infrastructure in nonnuclear weapons states? Despite the importance of this question, relatively little scholarly research has considered when and why countries target nuclear programs. The authors argue that states are likely to attack or consider attacking nuclear facilities when they are highly threatened by a particular country's acquisition of nuclear weapons. Three factors increase the salience of the proliferation threat: (I) prior violent militarized conflict; (2) the presence of a highly autocratic proliferator; and (3) divergent foreign policy interests. The authors test these propositions using statistical analysis and a new data set on all instances when countries have struck or seriously considered striking other states' nuclear infrastructure between 1941 and 2000. The findings lend support for the theory and very little support for the alternative explanations. States are not deterred from attacking nuclear programs by the prospect of a military retaliation and concerns about international condemnation do not appear to influence the willingness to strike. Ultimately, states are willing to accept substantial costs in attacking if they believe that a particular country's acquisition of nuclear weapons poses a significant threat to their security.

Aiding and Abetting: Human Rights INGOs and Domestic Protest

April 2011


102 Reads

This article studies the effects of human rights international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) on domestic antigovernment protest. Unlike mainstream scholarship, the authors argue that human rights INGOs are not simply the magic bullet in orchestrating nonviolent protests; different types of human rights INGO activity have varying effects on protest. Moreover, some human rights INGO activities may lead to higher levels of violent protest. The empirical tests use new data on the activities of over 400 human rights INGOs and domestic nonviolent and violent protest globally from 1991 to 2004. The authors find that increases in human rights INGO activities reflecting a greater commitment to the domestic population are associated with higher levels of both violent and nonviolent protest.

Anger, Hatred, and the Quest for Peace: Anger Can Be Constructive in the Absence of Hatred

April 2011


817 Reads

Anger is often viewed as a destructive force in intergroup conflicts because of its links to aggressive behavior. The authors hypothesized, however, that anger should have constructive effects in those with low levels of hatred toward the out-group. Using experimental designs with subsamples of nationwide representative surveys, the authors conducted two studies within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Study I showed that inducing anger toward Palestinians several weeks before the Annapolis summit increased support for making compromises in upcoming negotiations among those with low levels of hatred but decreased support for compromise among those with high levels of hatred. Study 2 showed that, even when a strong anger induction was used just days before the summit, the anger induction led to increased support for compromise among those low in hatred, but not among those high in hatred. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for informing a psychological understanding of conflicts.

Democratic Accountability and Diversionary Force: Regime Types and the Use of Benevolent and Hostile Military Force

December 2011


45 Reads

Agreement on which democratic regime types are prone to use diversionary force has yet to materialize in the embryonic empirical literature on the subject. Nor has consensus emerged on the theoretical approach that best explains the diversionary tendencies of different democratic political systems. By separating out benevolent and belligerent diversionary military missions, we begin to offer some clarity to this mixed empirical literature. In zero-inflated Poisson estimates of fifty-six democracies from 1950 to 2004, we find compelling evidence that a theoretical framework emphasizing leader accountability best explains democratic diversionary behavior. More accountable democratic executives (leaders of majoritarian, weak-party majority, and minority governments) appear significantly more likely to use diversionary force than counterparts with less accountability (especially in coalition governments). Democratic leaders also seem to use benevolent military force for diversionary purposes more often than belligerent force, though they still use the latter in specific contexts.

Figure 1. Influence of winning coalition (state A) as relative power increases. Note: Figure generated from model 1. The solid black line is marginal effect; dashed lines are 95% confidence interval.  
Table 1 . Logistic Estimates for Winning Coalition Size, Capitalism, and Power Interactions on Militarized Interstate Dispute Initiation, 1970-2000.
Figure 2. Influence of capitalism (state A) as relative power increases. Note: Figure generated from model 1. The solid black line is marginal effect; dashed lines are 95% confidence interval.  
Table 3. Logistic Estimates for Winning Coalition and Power Interactions on Militarized Interstate Dispute Initiation for Different Time Periods 
Figure 3. Effect of state A's winning coalition as state B's winning coalition size increases. The solid black line is marginal effect; dashed lines are 95% confidence interval.
The Accountability Effects of Political Institutions and Capitalism on Interstate Conflict

July 2010


157 Reads

Selectorate theory posits that leader accountability increases with the size of the winning coalition. Recent research contends that capitalism also increases leader accountability because leaders are more dependent on the public for revenue in more capitalist economies. The authors argue that extant tests of accountability arguments of interstate conflict initiation and targeting are flawed. Accountability theories of foreign policy expect leaders to selectively Initiate disputes based on their probability of winning. Accountability arguments, then, expect a conditional relationship between the accountability mechanism and the balance of power. For example, if capitalism produces peace through accountability, then more capitalist states should be less likely to initiate militarized disputes as their power advantage decreases. The authors find that this is not the case. At the same time, the authors find robust support for selectorate theory's contention that larger winning coalitions are more selective about using military force. Political institutions induce accountability; capitalism does not.

A Generalized Aggregation-Disintegration Model for the Frequency of Severe Terrorist Attacks

February 2009


114 Reads

We present and analyze a model of the frequency of severe terrorist attacks, which generalizes the recently proposed model of Johnson et al. This model, which is based on the notion of self-organized criticality and which describes how terrorist cells might aggregate and disintegrate over time, predicts that the distribution of attack severities should follow a power-law form with an exponent of alpha=5/2. This prediction is in good agreement with current empirical estimates for terrorist attacks worldwide, which give alpha=2.4 \pm 0.2, and which we show is independent of certain details of the model. We close by discussing the utility of this model for understanding terrorism and the behavior of terrorist organizations, and mention several productive ways it could be extended mathematically or tested empirically. Comment: 10 pages, 2 figures, 3 appendices. Pre-print version; journal version is available at Sage Publications (see DOI below)

Time to Agree: Is Time Pressure Good for Peace Negotiations?

November 2011


144 Reads

This article explores the impact of time pressure on negotiation processes in territorial conflicts in the post-cold war era. While it is often argued that time pressure can help generate positive momentum in peace negotiations and help break deadlocks, extensive literature also suggests that perceived time shortage can have a negative impact on the cognitive processes involved in complex, intercultural negotiations. The analysis explores these hypotheses through a comparison of sixty-eight episodes of negotiation using fuzzy-set logic, a form of qualitative comparative analysis (QCA). The conclusions confirm that time pressure can, in certain circumstances, be associated with broad agreements but also that only low levels of time pressure or its absence are associated with durable settlements. The analysis also suggests that the negative effect of time pressure on negotiations is particularly relevant in the presence of complex decision making and when a broad range of debated issues is at stake.

Figure 1. Relationship between instrument and probability of failure Note: Statistics calculated using coefficient estimates reported in Table 1. 
Table 3 . Censored Probit of Winning Coalition Failure and Aid Allocation Subsample Analysis by Era 
Table 3 . (continued) 
Figure A1. Estimated Baseline Survivor Function from NPH Cox Model of Winning Coalition Failure 
Coming Into Money: The Impact of Foreign Aid on Leader Survival

February 2010


96 Reads

Donors are more likely to send aid to leaders facing elevated risks of losing power, but targets' ability to benefit from this assistance is conditioned by regime type and political processes. The institutionalization of winning coalitions' loyalty across regime type follows opposite patterns, supporting opposite temporal dynamics across regime types. Democratic leaders' coalitions are firmest immediately after taking office, and aid is of most assistance to them at that time. As competition and dissatisfaction grow, aid becomes a political liability. In small winning coalition systems, however, coalitions become more solid over time, facilitating increasing benefits from aid. Without a firm coalition, however, external resources are destabilizing to autocratic leaders. Analysis of 4,692 leader years from I960 to 2001 using a censored probit model supports these expectations.

Foreign Aid Versus Military Intervention in the War on Terror

May 2010


262 Reads

This article presents a theoretical framework and some empirical results showing that the level of foreign aid received reduces the supply of terrorist attacks from recipient countries, while U.S. military interventions are liable to increase this supply. Due account is taken of endogeneity problems in producing these results. They suggest that Western democracies, which are the main targets of terrorist attacks, should invest more funds in foreign aid, with a special emphasis on supporting education, and use military interventions more sparingly.

Figure 1. A model of corporate alliances  
Figure 2. Corporate alliances announced, 1990–2007 Source: Thomson One Financial (2008).  
Table 2 . Explaining Democratic Corporate Governance, 1990-2007
Table 3. Corporate Alliance Institutionalization and Completion, 1990–2007 
Democracy, Institutionalization, and Corporate Alliances

September 2010


159 Reads

The authors bring together and extend three strands of existing research: the propensity of democracies to ally with each other, the effects of alliances being institutionalized, and the causal impact of democracy in promoting investment. This literature is applied to corporate alliances, predicting the probability that announced alliance contracts will be completed by the participants. The authors find that democratic political regimes generate rules that create corporate shareholder democracy and that the latter promotes the institutionalization of corporate alliances. Corporate democracy and alliance institutionalization will both, controlling for transaction costs, increase the probability that corporate alliances will be completed. The findings suggest a positive association among democratic corporate governance, the willingness of corporate alliance partners to accept institutionalized ties, and the creation of an environment conducive to commercial investment commitments through alliances. Overall, corporations appear to respond to some of the same alliance incentives as sovereign states.

Defense Expenditures and Allied Cooperation

December 2000


24 Reads

This paper investigates the implications of cooperative and non-cooperative defense spending of allied countries in conflicting blocs using static and leader-follower game models. It is well known that in the three-country world with two allies and an adversary all countries may be worse off when the allies cooperate than when they do not. We show that when the number of countries in each separate bloc is large, the countries in one bloc may be better off by cooperating than not even if the negative spillover from the adversarial bloc is large. Furthermore, cooperative behavior in a leader-follower game by the leader bloc can attain a better outcome than non-cooperation.

Forward-Loo king versus Shortsighted Defense Budget Allocation

July 2010


37 Reads

This study presents an analytical model of budget allocation into military and civilian expenditures within an arms race between two rival countries and compares the consequences of shortsighted (period-by-period) planning versus forward-looking (long-term) planning. The authors show that although shortsighted planning is favorable for both countries, they are likely to be locked in a prisoner's dilemma in which both overinvest in arms procurement. The likelihood of overinvestment in arms procurement is higher when the perceived benefit from security is higher and when future benefits from existing arms stocks are "high"; that is, when the rate of technology improvement over time is lower, the depreciation rate of existing arms is lower and the discount factor is higher. A dynamic version of Kagan et al., employing real-world data, finds evidence for the existence of a prisoner's dilemma in the Israeli-Syrian arms race.

The Dark Side of Altruistic Third-Party Punishment

November 2011


79 Reads

This article experimentally studies punishment from unaffected third parties in ten different games. The authors show that third-party punishment exhibits several features that are arguably undesirable. First, third parties punish strongly a decider if she chooses a socially efficient or a Pareto efficient allocation and becomes the richest party as a result. Interestingly, this form of punishment is especially pronounced in women and more left-wing participants. Second, third parties punish strongly a decider if she chooses an equitable allocation and becomes the richest party as a result. Finally, third parties considerably punish passive parties who make no choice, especially if the latterare richer than the third party. Implications of these findings for social theory are discussed.

Diversion and Political Survival in Latin America

April 2011


32 Reads

In spite of its long history among scholars of international conflict, empirical evaluations of diversionary theory have produced contrasting—even contradictory— results. We offer three reasons for these differences: choice of unit of analysis; failure to model the reciprocal relationship between threats to the survival of political leaders on one hand, and international conflict participation on the other; and measurement error in operationalizations of the independent variable—the incentive of leaders to divert. We construct an empirical test that addresses all of these concerns. Our analysis of data from Latin America during the period 1960—99 reveals robust evidence in support of diversionary theory. The results also expose the biasing effects associated with the failure to control for reciprocal causation and measurement problems.

Political Institutions and Street Protests in Latin America

November 2009


154 Reads

This paper argues that where institutions are strong, actors are more likely to participate in the political process through institutionalized arenas, while where they are weak, protests and other unconventional means of participation become more appealing. This relationship is explored empirically by combining country-level measures of institutional strength with individual-level information on protest participation in 17 Latin American countries. Evidence is found that weaker political institutions are associated with a higher propensity to use alternative means for expressing preferences, that is, to protest. Also found are interesting interactions between country-level institutional strength and some individual-level determinants of participation in protests.

Communication and Cooperation in Social Dilemmas: A Meta-Analytic Review

February 2010


466 Reads

Among the most researched solutions to social dilemmas is communication. Since the late 1950s, it has been well known that communication enhances cooperation in social dilemmas. This article reports a meta-analysis of this literature (forty-five effect sizes) and finds a large positive effect of communication on cooperation in social dilemmas (d = 1.01). This effect is moderated by the type of communication, with a stronger effect of face-to-face discussion (d = 1.21) compared to written messages (d = 0.46). The communication-cooperation relationship is also stronger in larger, compared to smaller, group social dilemmas. Whether communication occurred before or during iterated dilemmas did not statistically affect the communication-cooperation effect size. Results are discussed according to theory and research on communication in social dilemmas.

Figure 2: Proportion Absent from Polling Stations, by UP Vote Share 
Table 3 . Proportion of Residents from UP and Non-UP Polling Stations Absent from 1998 Census
Table 4 . Aggregate Census Data and Voter Files for Apartadó
Electing Displacement: Political Cleansing in Apartadó, Colombia

May 2011


415 Reads

This article highlights a nefarious effect of elections during civil wars by demonstrating that they can facilitate the displacement of civilians. In contrast to the perception of displacement as haphazard, the author argues that armed groups displace strategically when they attempt to gain control over a territory, and where they have information about civilians’ loyalties. Although inferring preferences is difficult in the context of civil wars, elections conducted before or during a violent conflict are one way that armed groups can identify local cleavages and “disloyal” residents. The author tests implications of the argument with original, microlevel quantitative and qualitative data from northwest Colombia. Using voter files and disaggregated electoral returns, the author shows that residents in urban neighborhoods that supported the insurgent-backed political party, the Patriotic Union (UP), were more likely to leave the city of Apartadó than were neighbors in other districts. However, residents of the nearby rural communities that supported the UP were the least likely to leave. The author traces the patterns of violence across the communities using local archival materials and interviews to assess how well the argument accounts for the variation observed, and to explore the unexpected outcome in the rural area. While the author finds that counterinsurgents attempted strategic displacement in both the city and the mountains, they only succeeded in the urban areas because residents of the rural hamlets were uniquely able to overcome the collective action problem that strategic displacement generates. The findings demonstrate that political identities are relevant for patterns of violence, and that cleansing occurs even in nonethnic civil wars.

Arming the Embargoed: A Supply-Side Understanding of Arms Embargo Violations

July 2010


88 Reads

Nearly every international arms embargo has been systemically violated by arms exporting states. Although much work has been done exploring why states transfer arms, little has been done to answer the question of why states choose to violate arms embargoes. Earlier studies have found that states transfer arms to one another for a variety of economic and strategic reasons. This study constructs a time series cross-section data set to test whether the same interests that drive dyadic arms transfers also influence the likelihood and size of arms embargo violations. Using a two-stage model of dyadic arms transfers, this study finds that measures for arms import dependence and alliance portfolio similarity best predict the likelihood and size of arms embargo violations. These results provide evidence that state decisions to violate embargoes are driven by political interests more than economic interests.

Putting the Other Side "On Notice" Can Induce Compliance in Arms Control

February 1992


8 Reads

Arms-control inspection is modeled by two games, one played simultaneously and one sequentially, between an inspector (O) and an inspectee (E). In each game, E may choose to comply with or violate an arms-control agreement and O may choose to inspect, or not, for a possible violation by E. Besides various costs and benefits, the parameters of the games include the conditional probability that a violation will be detected if there is an inspection, reflecting the uncertainty of inspection. In the simultaneous game, O and E make simultaneous choices. Because none of the three possible equilibria involves certain compliance by E, O is not always able to deter E from violating an agreement. In the sequential game, by contrast, O, by announcing in advance an inspection strategy and credibly committing itself to carrying it out, can, with certainty, deter E from violating, which in general leads to an equilibrium in the sequential form Pareto-superior to that in the simultaneous form. Thus there are evident benefits for both O and E when O “moves” first, given that its detection probability is above a certain threshold. Policy implications of this finding, especially in regional conflicts today, are briefly discussed.

Table 5 . Coefficient of Variation analysis of recognition rates.
Asylum Recognition Rates in Western Europe

January 2004


280 Reads

Substantial variation in recognition rates for asylum claims from the same countries of origin and therefore prima facie equal merit subjects refugees to unfair and discriminatory treatment. This article demonstrates the extent of variation and lack of convergence over the period 1980 to 1999 across Western European destination countries. Refugee interest groups also suspect that political and economic conditions in destination countries as well as the number of past asylum claims unduly impact upon recognition rates. This article estimates the determinants of asylum recognition rates. Origin-specific recognition rates vary, as they should, with the extent of political oppression, human rights violations, inter-state armed conflict and events of genocide and politicide in countries of origin. Recognition rates for the full protection status only are lower in times of high unemployment in destination countries. Such rates are also lower if many asylum seekers from a country of origin have already applied for asylum in the past.

Covert or Convenient? Evolution of Terror Attack Networks

November 2011


160 Reads

The concept of networks has become synonymous with terrorism in recent years. Despite the abundance of material engaging the concept of terrorist networks, there is a paucity of research that applies analytic network methods to the empirical study of observed data. This article fills that void by comparing two arguments about terror network structure using a newly released attack network data set. One account suggests that terrorists purposefully structure their networks to maximize operational security (OPSEC) by minimizing connections, while an alternate proposition relies on findings in network sciences showing that many networks have a few well-connected individuals (referred to as scale-free structure). Empirical analysis of six evolving attack networks produces results contradicting both assertions. This article then looks beyond structure to examine whether there are any causal relationships between network characteristics and output, specifically attack casualties. The article concludes by examining possible drivers of network structure and pertinent policy implications.

Terrorist Spectaculars: Backlash Attacks and the Focus of Intelligence

April 2010


248 Reads

This article presents a signaling model of terrorist attacks, where the target government faces a trade-off from its counterterrorism responses and the backlash (coun-terreaction) that such responses incite. An endogenous characterization of terrorist spectaculars is specified, given a government's counterterrorism stance and the potential for backlash attacks. In particular, spectacular attacks are pooling, rather than separating, phenomena, whereby the government cannot discern, based on past attacks, the militancy of the terrorist group. The definition for "spectacular" terrorist attacks is inversely related to the government's toughness and its belief that it confronts a militant group. Policy recommendations are specified for non-event-specific intelligence in relation to the avoidance of spectacular attacks or unnecessary concessions. Intelligence must be focused on the propensity for counterterrorism to give rise to a backlash attack.

The Scale of Terrorist Attacks as a Signal of Resources

February 1993


314 Reads

This article studies conflicts between terrorists and governments in a setting of asymmetric information. The government is initially uncertain about the level of resources available to a terrorist group for use in violent attacks. The conflict is modeled as a signaling game where the magnitude of terrorist attacks serves as a signal of terrorist resources. With complete information, optimal government retaliation depends nontrivially on terrorist resources. With asymmetric information, this provides terrorists with an incentive to convey the message that resources are large in an attempt to soften government retaliation. Thus equilibrium attack levels of high resource terrorist groups must be distorted upward if they are to convey any information to the government. In addition, we consider equilibria where attacks are uninformative of terrorist resources, but where the government softens its retaliation. In either case the government suffers under asymmetric information. We examine how varying the flexibility of government responses affects the likely outcome of conflicts, and this gives rise to an assessment of the value of government intelligence gathering and (partial) government commitment.

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