Here is a link to my FNP presentation:
I met with Professor Martin on Wednesday, December 5th. Our meeting lasted about half an hour. We spoke about how my research project had developed, specifically on the issue of case selection and historiography. I described the major criteria for the cases, including some of the controls I was introducing, and how this pointed toward examining two rising and ruling power dynamics from Spain and Portugal in the 15th century, and Sweden and Denmark in the 16th century. Professor Martin then anticipated my next point of discussion and, accordingly, we spoke about the availability of sources and differences in international norms on these rather dated cases. Professor Martin suggested that I investigate the Fashoda incident of 1898 within the context of France-United Kingdom relations and colonial competition in the African continent. This case is particularly interesting since it seems to fit the Thucydidean dynamic yet was not analyzed by Graham Allison and the Belfer Center and includes less powerful third parties, the importance of which has been emphasized by scholars like Yang Yuan.
At this moment, I intend on doing a small-N most similar case comparison. While I am still whittling down contestants for the second case, I am heavily leaning toward the First Sino-Japanese war. The case, which is very similar to that of the Fashoda incident (save the DV), is ideal for several reasons: it is from the same time frame as the Fashoda incident, which controls for a difference in historical norms and loops in a case from East Asia. Since, ultimately, this whole question of Thucydides’ Trap is most relevant within the context of a rising China, examining a case from East Asia will allow me to see how cultural or regional norms from East Asia might be a contributing variable in the determination to go to war. Professor Martin and I also spoke about the use of primary and secondary sources when doing historical inquiry in IR research. He and I both agreed on the richness that primary sources provide. Primary sources will be in far greater abundance for the more recent cases, which pushes me even further toward picking them. Furthermore, it is more likely that primary sources from these cases will have been translated into English (although I can also read a fair bit of French and Chinese as well).
I am not planning on interacting with any human subjects or participants, so I will not need to file for approval with the IRB. I believe the only planning I really need to keep in mind for 306 and over the summer is to collect as many primary sources on these new cases as possible and, if needed, get decent translations of said sources. I might also investigate more of the Marxist literature on this subject since these cases are heavily ensconced in the imperialist tradition. While Marxism might be a bit dated, I might find some utility in their work on what Lenin described as “the highest stage of capitalism”.
 Yuan refers to this phenomenon as the “Churchill Trap”. See, Yang Yuan. “Escape both the ‘Thucydides Trap’ and the ‘Churchill Trap’: Finding a Third Type of Great Power Relations under the Bipolar System”, The Chinese Journal of International Politics 11, no. 2, (1 June 2018), 193–235.
Within the realm of interpretivism, I am interested in studying the elite’s discourses on Anglo-American relations at the end of the 19th century because I want to understand the radical change and generation of an Anglo-American identity. With this, I want to help my reader understand how a newly constructed identity of Anglo-Saxon supremacy helped redefine Anglo-American relations but converged toward a racist ideology.
I decided upon Anglo-American relations at the end of the 19th century since the two parties went under a rather significant change (from fighting two wars in quick succession to becoming close allies) over the course of 150 years. I focused on qualitative primary sources of those who I saw as being intellectually or culturally significant within Britain and the US at the time of Anglo-American rapprochement. Instead of drawing upon more presidential sources and speeches (as I had done for previous research posts), I branched toward elites with influence, but not direct political power.
The first source I read was by the well-known Scottish-American business magnate, Andrew Carnegie. His 1893 piece, The Reunion of Britain and America: A Look Ahead, promoted what he described as “a race confederation” between the United Kingdom and the United States. Initially, he cited documents before and during the early stages of the American war for independence, attempting to show British loyalism among the disgruntled states and the eventual founding fathers. The selection of texts seems to simplify the complexity of American national identity in order to promote Carnegie’s vision of an Anglo-Saxon “race confederation”. Within the text, there is a great deal of emphasis on the racial continuity between the two states, stating that “In race—and there is a great deal in race—the American remains three-fourths purely British…” and that “substantially all of the remainder, though not strictly British, is yet Germanic”. These overt statements of race and blood construct a very specific and exclusive definition of an American. It excludes those from non-Germanic ancestry and millions of African-Americans, all of whom were legally American. Despite this, Carnegie later praises the action President Lincoln took thirty years prior in signing the Emancipation Proclamation. This suggests he is fully aware of the racial composition of the country but simply does not count them within this larger Anglo-American identity. Further analysis would include other American sources to examine the similarity and dissimilarity within the discourse of Anglo-American rapprochement.
Next, I examined a piece written by leading British jurist and legal scholar, Albert Venn Dicey. His 1897 essay, A Common Citizenship for the English Race, also spoke of a “reunion of English people”. Dicey proposed a form of common citizenship or “isopolity” between Americans and Brits. The concept of isopolity itself is interesting since I have only ever seen it when describing classical societies like Rome and the city-states of Ancient Greece. This, while subtle, seems to indicate a certain braggadocio and belief in their own superiority. However, the political aspect of isopolity differs from Carnegie’s view of Anglo-American reunion, which is more focused on the creation of a uniform identity. Despite this, Dicey also relies heavily on this language of racial superiority, describing the “English race”, its “common nationality” and a responsibility to “permanently secure the peace of a large portion of the world”. However, most of the essay explains how such a reunion would be legally feasible and relies heavily upon the legal codes of each country to effectively argue this.
If I were to continue with this methodology, I would focus more on this language of racial purity and how this continued or changed up leading into the United State’s involvement in World War I and II. This exploration into the racist side of Anglo-American relations can reveal domestic insecurities, the concentration of power within the Anglo-Saxon population, and the elites who stood to gain the most from Anglo-American unity.
 Andrew Carnegie. “The Reunion of Britain and America: A Look Ahead.” LSE Selected Pamphlets, (January 1, 1893), 12. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/60214531?origin=api.
 Ibid, 4-6.
 Ibid, 9.
 Ibid, 457.
 Ibid, 465-467.
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.” 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. 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. 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”. 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”). 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 and Roosevelt 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. 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.
 Graham Allison. “Methodology,” Thucydides Trap, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center. 2017, https://www.belfercenter.org/thucydides-trap/thucydides-trap-methodology (Accessed: October 24, 2018).
 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).
 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.
 Johan Galtung. “Peace.” International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Second Edition, 618–623. 2015.
 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).
 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).
My research is interested in tracing out the processes of peace between rising and ruling powers. Since this is a fairly specific set of cases (rising and ruling powers) constrained by a fairly rare condition (peace), zooming out and redefining the project is required for a statistical research design. Fundamentally, my research is still interested in war and peace, for which there is ample data. The Correlates of War Project offers valuable datasets on variables associated with conflict. Its database on National Material Production includes information on the material capacity of a country to wage war. Another one of its databases is Inter-States Wars, which provides data on the duration, outcomes, and instigations of war. Full citations to these datasets can be found in the bibliography.
The National Material Production dataset offers variables that can help understand the military capacity of a specific country. The variables most pertinent to my research are military expenditure and military personnel. Military expenditure, before 1914, is measured in thousands of current year British Pounds, while post-1914 is measured in thousands of current year U.S. Dollars. Military personnel is measured in thousands of persons. These variables offer some indication of the size and strength of a military, both of which are important factors during a war. The database offers statistics on most countries from 1816-2012, meaning there are thousands of cases. One limitation of this database is that military expenditure is not weighted proportionally to a state’s wealth or productivity. A smaller state will not be able to spend as much on its military as a larger state with access to more resources.
The most pertinent information from the Inter-State Wars database is the outcome of war variable and the instigation of war variable. The outcome of war variable is measured specific to the country on an ordinal scale. These outcomes include winning, losing, drawing, stalemates, and more. The database has 338 cases. One limitation of the database is the lack of nuance associated with a nominal variable of starting a war. The database assigns this blame to only one country using 1 as yes (X country did start the war) and 2 as no (X country did not start the war).
Potentially, I could design a research project that looks at how much of an impact (if any) National Material Production has on the outcomes of Inter-State Wars. For instance, does a difference in National Material Production between two states affect the outcome of their conflicts? Presumably, a bigger difference in National Material Production (measured by military expenditure and military personnel, which should give an estimate of the size and power of a country) would result in clearer victories. Furthermore, a smaller difference would indicate fewer material advantages between either side and result in conflicts with more ambiguous endings such as stalemates or draws.
Maoz, Zeev, 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, (forthcoming 2019).
Singer, J. David. “Reconstructing the Correlates of War Dataset on Material Capabilities of States, 1816-1985,” International Interactions, no. 14 (1987), 115-32.
- I am proposing to research the avoidance of war among cases of rising and ruling powers…
- …because I want to trace their individual processes toward peace…
- …in order to help my audience understand whether these peace processes differ and how future states may draw on these historical examples to defuse tension and conflict.
The main puzzle that I intend on exploring comes from Graham Allison’s observations on conflict in his book Destined for War. Here, he argues for the Thucydidean notion of rising powers threatening the hegemony of ruling powers, thus prompting war. It is important to note however that he does not consider the outcome of war as inherently inevitable. He along with Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center finds “sixteen major cases of rise vs. rule” (Allison 244). Of these cases, four result in peace, while twelve end in war. Naturally, a puzzle emerges from the minority of cases that contradict Allison’s hypothesis. Although I think Allison’s larger claim and conclusions remain valid, the question still remains: why is it that, in some cases, states do not dive into the hellish pits of war, and instead, preserve some modicum of peace? Allison offers incredible and insightful analysis as to why and how certain states go to war, but the other side of the coin is missing. He offers one measly chapter, titled 12 Clues for Peace, that aim to offer some intimations of these peace processes, but it remains largely undeveloped. Allison’s main motivations for writing the book is to first, spread awareness that “war between the US and China in the decades ahead is not just possible, but much more likely than currently recognized” and second, spread awareness that “war is not inevitable”. While he convinces his audience of the first proposition, the second proposition is arguably the most important factor since it offers an escape route from Thucydides’ Trap.
With my focus aimed squarely at this potential evitability of war, I began rummaging through databases, trying to find existing literature that might explain cases of peace. I found Charles Kupchan’s book How Enemies Become Friends to be useful since he explores a puzzle similar to mine. He employs a method of small-N analysis blended with historical narration, examining cases of what he describes as rapprochement and the emergence of stable peace. Broadly speaking, he describes a process of “unilateral accommodation”, in which one state essentially defers to the other, allowing a less confrontational relationship to ensue. He arrives at this theory after going through the history of various cases, including Anglo-American relations at the turn of the 20th-century chapter 3.
Some of the primary sources that have added to my puzzle are artifacts, speeches, and correspondences from the four cases I intend on studying. The Treaty of Tordesillas, which essentially relaxed the tense relations between Portugal and Spain of the late 1400s, offers valuable insight to the desires of both parties and the factors that motivated each side to opt for peace. Allison places supreme emphasis on the importance of intervention from superior powers, (which, in the case of Portugal and Spain, was the Pope) while the treaty itself focuses far more on a realpolitik division of spheres of influence, making the Holy See’s role appear as more of a formality to cement the agreement. Regardless, Kupchan’s theory of unilateral accommodation does not seem to match with either Allison’s interventionist perspective or a realpolitik perspective. This does not discredit Kupchan’s ideas, but it does show their limitations.
Additionally, President McKinley’s 1897 inauguration speech serves as another useful primary source in navigating this puzzle. His speech highlights the importance and success of arbitration and peaceful negotiations with the British. He responds to the British willingness to accommodate the newly powerful America with a reciprocating statement meant to ensure a continuation of relaxation: “We want no wars of conquest; we must avoid the temptation of territorial aggression”. These sources help contextualize my puzzle and offer a launching pad to investigate the similarities and differences between these two cases (along with others).
My interest in this area of research stems almost solely from my fear of a Sino-American war. Even if the chances are small (which is by no means clear), its potential outcome for death and destruction have placed an impetus on me to study the topic with an eye toward prevention. The consequences of such a war would easily match the horror of World War 2 and would almost certainly surpass it. Therefore, studying peaceful outcomes among analogous historical cases is of the utmost importance if a Sino-American war is to be avoided. If we want peace, we must understand peace and the process from which it emerges. In terms of a “conceptual problem” as outlined by Booth et al., the condition is that, while rare, rising and ruling powers sometimes avoid war. The consequence of not understanding this puzzle leaves the world less prepared in dealing with increasingly contentious Sino-American relations and the evasion of the larger historical trend.
- What explains the cases that contradict Allison’s hypothesis of rising and ruling states duking it out in total war?
- Why did Spain and Portugal not go to war over the New World at the turn of the 15th century?
 Graham Allison. Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.
 Charles Kupchan. How Enemies Become Friends: The Sources of Stable Peace. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.
 Ibid., 15.
 Graham Allison. Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017, 190.
 “Treaty of Tordesillas.” 2017. Treaty of Tordesillas, August, 84. http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=21213013&site=ehost-live&scope=site. According to the source, “The most important parts of the treaty are translated in E. H. Blair and J. A. Robertson, Philippine Islands (1903-1909). I. 115-129”.
 William McKinley, Inaugural Address, Washington DC, March 4, 1897. The Avalon Project. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/mckin1.asp
 Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (4th ed.), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016, 54.
First, I should be clear with what I currently perceive to be my puzzle:
What explains the occasional peaceful outcomes within Allison’s conception of Thucydides’ Trap?
The first source I read was the third chapter of Charles Kupchan’s book, whose title, How Enemies Become Friends, also describes his research puzzle. Kupchan, drawing from the existing literature and his observations, describes a four-phase process for stable peace among former enemies and identifies three causal links. The third chapter of the book was an in-depth analysis of Anglo-American relations around the turn of the 20th century. This case study relied heavily on speeches of leaders, pieces from national media, and government/military documents. Given this methodology, I am inclined to put it in the interpretivist camp, and likely would if his work only pertained to this one case. However, there are numerous cases in his book from which he constructs the four-phase process theory. This assurance in larger trends and patterns is by no means part and parcel of the constructivist/interpretivist camp. Therefore, it seems more apt to describe him and his work as more realist and positivist. He agrees with general balance of power theories in the first phase of his theory but aims to go beyond and explain the success of cases of rapprochement.
The second source I read was Alliance Formation and War Behavior: An Analysis of the Great Powers, 1495-1975 by Jack S. Levy. This source aimed to examine the correlation between Great Power alliance-formation and war. It employed a statistical approach that nullified what it described as the “popular hypothesis” that more alliances are formed during times of war. Instead, alliances tend to emerge from times of peace. This is all determined with quantitative data and empirical observation. Without a doubt, this source is deeply situated in the realist and positivist philosophical tradition. What is interesting is how much it differs from the Kucphan chapter, despite also being realist.
In terms of how these sources will inform my research project, I think that Kupchan’s work has more utility. As of now, I am leaning toward a methodology like his and applying it to the cases listed in footnote one. Furthermore, its reference to “stable peace” has piqued my interest and I will likely be reading more on this. Levy’s piece, although interesting and well designed, seems to offer less methodological guidance as it has a larger pool of cases for which statistics is justified. Broadly speaking, I think I will be focusing more on the Kupchan direction, trying to build off his work and possibly construct a bridge between him and Allison.
Kupchan, Charles, Kupchan, Charles A. A., and Kupchan, Charles A.. How Enemies Become Friends: The Sources of Stable Peace. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010. Accessed September 22, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.
Levy, Jack S. “Alliance Formation and War Behavior: An Analysis of the Great Powers, 1495-1975.” The Journal of Conflict Resolution 25, no. 4 (1981): 581-613. http://www.jstor.org/stable/173911.
 Cases: Portugal vs Spain; Britain vs United States; United States vs Soviet Union; Britain & France vs Germany
- The concept of ontology is the fundamental assumption one makes about reality. Literally, it is the study of what exists. What follows from this is a logical approach to conducting research. For instance, one with a realist ontology assumes that “the things and qualities we encounter in social reality are enduring phenomena…” With this realist a priori structure defined, the next step is measuring these enduring phenomena. If they exist abstractly, in the way realists propose, it ought to be possible to measure them using empirical methods, better known as positivism. Conversely, one could endorse a constructionist ontology which assumes that things and qualities in the social world are “simply produced (or reproduced) in social interaction as need be.” The logical extension of this ontology is to explore these social interactions by employing an interpretivist methodology, using tools like ethnographies. Ultimately, ontology and methodology are closely linked. An ontology is an axiom used to gain stable footing in a worldview before branching out and conducting research using methodological approaches.
- To be frank, I do not think it is worth getting too hung up on this question of objectivity. All research is, to varying extents, reflective of the researcher’s biases. Conducting research requires making choices and these choices can be questioned and critiqued endlessly. Ultimately, all a researcher can do (and ought to do) is strive toward objectivity and document his or her thought process in a maximally transparent manner, as to provide other researchers the tools to assess the validity of the research. In the first discussion of our class, we briefly touched on postmodernism and subjectivism. In short, I will concede that postmodernism is right in that there is indeed a problem of infinite interpretations and the undeniable role of preference and bias that fuels these interpretations. However, I do not think that there is an infinite number of useful interpretations of the world, where utility is measured by how well the interpretation brings you toward a defined virtue. In this sense, it seems that I am in the pragmatist camp. The implications of these beliefs seem to place me in the realist and positivist paradigms while also allowing for some interpretive critiques. I think that while theoretically knowledge could be transcendental (and certainly is if we assume that everything is simply interactions between atoms), this may be impossible to materialize within the domain of social sciences, where one cannot perform an experiment as a physicist would. I think that knowledge is situated within a specific context, but relatively broad contexts that may be renegotiated if necessary.
- I do not think that the subject or thing defines its potential for research and valid knowledge claims. Rather, it is the process used to explore the social world. The social world is an expansive one where no single ontological or methodological perspective is necessarily right. We have different tools and heuristics that allow us to generate knowledge on the many different situations we are sure to encounter.
 46. Abbott, Andrew Delano. Methods of Discovery Heuristics for the Social Sciences. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004.
Last year, I read Graham Allison’s book Destined for War. The book was initially captivating and expounded a compelling realist theory on the origin of war between rising powers and those they threaten to replace. Repeatedly, Allison quotes the ancient Athenian and historian Thucydides, stating “It was the rise of Athens, and the fear that this instilled in Sparta, that made war inevitable”. This single line, which rests at the heart of Allison’s argument, comes across as reductionist. If this were the case in Sino-American relations, we would expect to find the U.S. in a state of alarm, trying to hold back the red tide of Chinese power. This is what I wish to study: whether the U.S. is in this state of fear. If the U.S. truly is fearful of an impending clash with the Chinese, we would expect to see the U.S. strengthen ties with allies as it prepares for what could be the worst. My research would focus on the Trump administration’s foreign policy hitherto, examining whether this fear exists in either the rhetoric or embodied actions.
For future research, I am greatly interested in China’s so-called Century of Humiliation. I am fond of Allison’s attempt to prescribe a psychological state to contentious foreign relations, but I do not believe it is fear that most accurately describes the West’s attitude toward China. Instead, I think retribution and redress might better encompass China’s attitude toward the West. Other historical examples along the same mantra of revenge have proven to be rather significant, such as pre-World War 2 Germany. My future research might look at the collective psychology of revenge or something along these lines.
 Allison, Graham. Destined For War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? Mariner Books, 2017.