Rivalry, Instability, and the Probability of International Conflict1
This article addresses the effect of political instability and domestic conflict on the probability of militarized interstate disputes. Existing research on the subject has produced inconsistent findings. I hypothesize that the effect of political instability on international disputes is conditional on statesâ€™ involvement in civil conflict. More specifically, I argue that while political instability provides leaders with the willingness to use force, civil war creates the necessary opportunities for initiating conflict abroad. A directed-dyad analysis of international rivals for the 1816â€“2000 time period shows that instability coupled with civil war increases the probability of militarized interstate dispute initiation among rival states. Results are consistent for alternative indicators of political instability and civil war.
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