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Passing the open windows: A quantitative and qualitative approach to immediate military balance and escalation of protracted conflicts
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.
1998 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation has a dual point of departure: first, the widely known concept of window of opportunity and its application in the study of international relations (IR) and, second, the notion among modern classical realists that states maximize their power and, hence, that windows of opportunity should increase the probability of escalation to war or escalation of a war.

The focus is primarily on the effects of rapid power shifts in dyads of non-great powers experiencing protracted conflict. The questions asked are, Do military opportunities cause escalation of protracted conflicts, and if so, under what circumstances?

Military opportunity is derived from window of opportunity and is argued to be a more precise and analytically useful concept. It is integrated into a theoretical model that specifies possible conditions for escalation and which distance the model from the simple realist approach. These conditions are deduced from the unitary rational actor approach and from organization theory.

In a large-N application of the model, covering the period from 1945 to 1986, there is, as expected, little support for military opportunity as an explanatory variable for escalation. The findings are contrary to the expectations of political realism. The learning propositions also receive no support. Negative and positive learning do not decrease or increase the likelihood of escalation; however, there is support for the proposition that the degree of militarization prior to the military opportunity has a positive effect on the likelihood of a new escalation. Under these conditions, as many as one out of every three dyads experiences escalation.

In the qualitative phase, India-Pakistan (1970-1971) and Iran-Iraq (1979-1988), two important cases supporting the large-N findings, are analyzed. The deductive chain of the rational unitary actor approach seems to have more to tell than organization theory does. Furthermore, the analysis strengthens the conclusions from the large-N study.

In sum, military opportunity is not generally associated with escalation. Only when the conflicts are militarized and, consequently, when the level of threat towards the state is high, may military opportunity lead to escalation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 1998. , vi, 143 p.
Report / Department of Peace and Conflict Research, ISSN 0566-8808 ; 47
Keyword [en]
Peace and conflict research, Window of opportunity, realism, balance of power, rational choice, organization theory, learning
Keyword [sv]
Freds- och konfliktforskning
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-30ISBN: 91-506-1272-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-30DiVA: diva2:162185
Public defence
1998-05-26, sal IV, universitetshuset, Uppsala, Uppsala, 13:00
Available from: 1998-05-05 Created: 1998-05-05Bibliographically approved

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