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Issue Intractability and the Persistence of International Rivalry


  • David R. Dreyer


Rivalries are likely to persist as long as contentious issues remain unresolved. Due to differing issue characteristics, some issues may be more intractable than others and therefore especially likely to prolong rivalry. In this study, I argue that rivalries rooted in territorial issues tend to be enduring due to broad-bases of domestic support for continuing to pursue territorial claims and loose linkages between territorial issues and particular political leaders, resulting in the persistence of territorial conflict over time despite changes of leadership. Alternatively, ideological and regime-related conflicts tend to be relatively fleeting due to narrow societal salience and close connections between such issues and particular political leaders, facilitating rivalry termination through leadership change. The empirical results reveal that territorial rivalries (as well as positional rivalries concerning influence/prestige) tend to be more enduring than rivalries rooted in ideological or regime-related conflict and that unlike territorial rivalries, ideological rivalries tend to terminate upon irregular changes of leadership.

Suggested Citation

  • David R. Dreyer, 2012. "Issue Intractability and the Persistence of International Rivalry," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 29(5), pages 471-489, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:compsc:v:29:y:2012:i:5:p:471-489

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    issues; rivalry; territory;


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