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The Geographic Spread of Militarized Disputes


  • Alex Braithwaite

    (Department of Political Science, Colorado State University,


A thriving literature investigates the claim that geographic processes cause military conflict to cluster and diffuse. With the recent update of the Militarized Interstate Dispute (MID) data and the collection of geographic locations to accompany these data, it is now possible to offer a location-based examination of the geographic spread of conflict. Consideration of the literature that identifies a role for physical geography in conflict processes leads to the derivation of hypotheses in which territory and resources are expected to provide incentives for states to seek to increase territorial acquisitions, while impassable terrain is expected to act as a barrier to such spread. These hypotheses are tested using ordinary least squares (OLS) estimation - regressing the spread of individual MIDs in the years 1993-2001 upon a range of location- and dispute-specific variables. These regressions demonstrate that the spread of individual disputes is a function of the issue over which they are fought, the presence of vital resources in the host country, the prevailing terrain of that country, and the relevant conflict history of the participants. It is argued that knowledge of the precipitants of the spread of individual conflicts is of great benefit to policymakers seeking to mitigate the detrimental impact of conflict upon the societies in which it occurs, as well as to those deploying peacekeeping troops to conflict zones.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Braithwaite, 2006. "The Geographic Spread of Militarized Disputes," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 43(5), pages 507-522, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:43:y:2006:i:5:p:507-522

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    Cited by:

    1. Strüver, Georg & Wegenast, Tim, 2011. "Ex oleo bellare? The Impact of Oil on the Outbreak of Militarized Interstate Disputes," GIGA Working Papers 162, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    2. Silve, Arthur & Verdier, Thierry, 2018. "A theory of regional conflict complexes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 434-447.
    3. Anderton,Charles H. & Carter,John R., 2009. "Principles of Conflict Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521875578, December.
    4. Carmignani, Fabrizio & Kler, Parvinder, 2016. "Surrounded by wars: Quantifying the role of spatial conflict spillovers," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 7-16.
    5. Strüver, Georg, 2010. "Too Many Resources or Too Few? What Drives International Conflicts?," GIGA Working Papers 147, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.

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