RPP #7

RPP #7

To some extent, my research is responding to and furthering Graham Allison’s observations in Destined for War. I am attempting to explain the outliers in his theory. These are the cases where a rising power and a ruling power do not go to war. By shifting the focus on the cases that do not conform to the theory, I am looking to explain instances of peace. Since my research overlaps with Allison at a methodological and theoretical level, my dependent variable is similar to his: “The dependent variable in this inquiry is war, defined according to the standard criteria in the Correlates of War Project as military conflict causing a minimum of 1,000 fatalities per year.”[1] Since I would be looking at a smaller number of cases, however, I could switch the dependent variable from the aforementioned dumby-variable to an ordinal variable. Having an ordinal variable that measures bilateral relations allows for more detail and nuance. Currently, I am reading some work by Johan Galtung to help develop this ordinal scale. For the sake of this post, however, a dumby-variable on whether two states are at war theoretically suffices.

Currently, I am interested in using Mill’s Method of Difference to compare two very similar cases with different outcomes on the dependent variable. Both cases come from Allison, but one remains unanalyzed. Britain and the United States at the turn of the 20th century (which did not result in war) is included in Allison’s main work.[2] A very similar case, Austria and Prussia during the mid-18th century and the Silesian Wars, has been listed by Allison as a potential case for “Phase II” but has not yet been analyzed[3]. After some background reading, I do believe it falls within the boundaries of the phenomenon of rising and ruling powers. What is interesting about the case is its outcome (war) despite its similarity with the Britain/US case, which did not end in war. The intriguing similarity between the cases stems from the common culture in each bilateral relationship. For example, the U.S. and Britain both have an “Anglo-Saxon culture” while both Prussia and Austria have a “Germanic culture”.[4] Using Mill’s Method of Difference might help identify the Independent Variable(s) that allowed similar cases (rising and ruling powers with cultural affinity) to arrive at drastically different outcomes.

With all of this in mind, I began looking for primary sources that could help inform the dependent variable (which would be whether the two states were at war if using the dumby-variable or an ordinal DV that scales from war to what Galtung and other scholars refer to as “negative peace” and further “positive peace”).[5] While I am still searching for sources on the Austro-Prussian case, I have found an abundance of scholarship and primary sources on the case of Britain and the US and their rapprochement. Of the primary sources, the speeches of presidents McKinley[6] and Roosevelt[7] seem to be useful in identifying the state of Anglo-American relations (at least rhetorically). These sources (along with other primary and secondary sources) could help fill in the possible ordinal dependent variable. However, if I were to keep to the dumby-variable of simply whether there was a war, I could use the Correlates of War Project’s Inter-State War Database.[8] Using this DV, I already know the values of each case (US/Britain: No War; Prussia/Austria: War). If I were to use an ordinal DV, I would expect (based on my historical background readings so far) Anglo-American rapprochement to be more in line with a “positive peace” while Austro-Prussian conflict to constitute war, but not “total war” or the fullest extent of wartime commitment and determination.



[1] Graham Allison. “Methodology,” Thucydides Trap, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center. 2017, https://www.belfercenter.org/thucydides-trap/thucydides-trap-methodology (Accessed: October 24, 2018).

[2] Ibid, “Case File: United Kingdom vs. United States,” Thucydides Trap, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center. 2017, https://www.belfercenter.org/thucydides-trap/case-file  (Accessed: October 24, 2018).

[3] Ibid, https://www.belfercenter.org/thucydides-trap/methodology/thucydides-trap-potential-additional-cases

[4] In my literature review, I identified a grouping of scholars that identified the importance of culture similarity in allowing bilateral peace. The cultural similarities that I just described are a simplification and would be explained in further detail in a future research design or post.

[5] Johan Galtung. “Peace.” International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Second Edition, 618–623. 2015.

[6] William McKinley, Inaugural Address, Washington DC, March 4, 1897. The Avalon Project. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/mckin1.asp (Accessed: September 24, 2018).

[7] Theodore Roosevelt. “Primary Speeches,” Almanac of Theodore Roosevelt, http://theodore-roosevelt.com/trspeeches.html (Accessed: October 26, 2018).

[8] Zeev Maoz, Paul L. Johnson, Jasper Kaplan, Fiona Ogunkoya, and Aaron Shreve. “The Dyadic Militarized Interstate Disputes (MIDs) Dataset Version 3.0: Logic, Characteristics, and Comparisons to Alternative Datasets,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, no. 3 (forthcoming 2019).

2 thoughts on “RPP #7

  1. Jordan,
    I like how you reframed your question in order to highlight the phenomenon associated with your subject. I think it’s interesting how you operationalized your dependent variable. To me, using a dummy variable makes the most sense because I think if you placed conflict on an ordinal scale it would make your research difficult to analyze to the reader. It’s also very interesting to me that you were able to utilize speeches as a primary source when analyzing positive and negative peace. I think your topic is especially fascinating, and I can’t wait to read what else you post!

  2. Overall this is an excellent start to thinking about your DV as well as potential cases/comparisons for your project. I do think that your idea of moving beyond a dichotomous operationalization of the DV towards one that can capture some more richness in types of war/outcome would be a good idea, so I’d suggest that you keep thinking about that aspect of things as you discuss in your post. Keep up the good work here!

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