Co-evolving Networks of International Conflict and Cooperation

Luke Maier, Duke, Public Policy
National security scholars and practitioners have an ongoing need to anticipate future conflict and ways to avert it using non-violent means. The three majors schools of international relations offer alternative predictions about how states behave in the face of uncertainty and insecurity, and political scientists are increasingly applying computational methods to operationalize these bodies of theory. Scholars in the liberal school emphasize that economics, transnational organizations, and diplomacy can play strong mediating and information-sharing roles in averting (or causing) interstate conflict. Indeed, since 1949, the number and connectivity of international organizations and the world economy have burgeoned, while large-scale interstate wars seem less frequent and less global. Noting this prima facie correlation, this project's goal is to model conflict probability at two levels: at the aggregate network-level and that of individual states. For the network level, we will assess the covariance between trade and institutional connectivity and conflict incidence in the overall system. For individual states, we will use their relationships with other actors and those dyads' network statistics to model their dyadic conflict propensity. For both levels of analysis, the liberal school would generally predict mutual membership in international institutions and strong trade ties negatively correlate with conflict propensity. **We would like feedback on how to operationalize this to test causality. So far, the project has focused on quantifying changes in the international system in a descriptive sense. But, we would like to explore the liberal school's hypothesis to the extent that network analysis allows, and perhaps move towards an instrumental forecasting model.
February, 23 2015 | 12:30 - 14:00 | Gross Hall 230E

Return to seminar series