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Militarized Interstate Disputes, 1816–1992: Rationale, Coding Rules, and Empirical Patterns

  • Daniel M. Jones

    (University of Michigan)

  • Stuart A. Bremer

    (State University of New York at Binghamton)

  • J. David Singer

    (University of Michigan)

Militarized interstate disputes are united historical cases of conflict in which the threat, display or use of military force short of war by one member state is explicitly directed towards the government, official representatives, official forces, property, or territory of another state. Disputes are composed of incidents that range in intensity from threats to use force to actual combat short of war. The new dispute data set generated by the Correlates of War project contains information on over 2,000 such disputes found to have occurred in the period 1816–1992. As in the earlier version of the data set, the participants, start and end dates, fatality totals, and hostility levels for each dispute are identified, but the newer version disaggregates this information for each participant and provides additional information about the revisionist state(s), type(s) of revision sought, outcome, and method of settlement for each dispute. A preliminary analysis of the data shows some interesting empircal patterns. Contagion and a slight upward trend are found in the frequency of disputes at the system level. The duration of disputes appears to be positively associated with the level of hostility reached and the number of states involved, and disputes appear to have a feud-like character. The single most important factor found to increase the fatality level of a dispute is the number of states that join after its onset. However, most disputes begin and end as one-on-one confrontations, and this tendency is stronger in the current period than in the past. An examination of dispute escalation reveals that many disputes begin with uses of force rather than less intense threats or displays of force and that states joining an ongoing dispute raise the likelihood that the dispute will reach higher levels of hostility. With respect to the settlement of disputes it was found that the longer a dispute continues, the higher the likelihood of some settlement, either negotiated or imposed, being achieved, althogh there is a discernable trend away from such settlements over the period studied. A related trend was found with respect to the outcome of disputes as stalemate has become a much more likely outcome in the present than in the past.

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Article provided by Peace Science Society (International) in its journal Conflict Management and Peace Science.

Volume (Year): 15 (1996)
Issue (Month): 2 (September)
Pages: 163-213

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Handle: RePEc:sae:compsc:v:15:y:1996:i:2:p:163-213
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