Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Once More on Military Capabilities

I previously introduced a new measure of military capabilities, \(M\), which is intended to capture the size and sophistication of a nation's military relative to prevailing standards of the day, here.  Some legitimate concerns were raised about how the scores were calculated, so I adjusted the measure.

The real question is how to normalize the raw military data to reflect prevailing standards of the day.  In my previous two attempts, I did this through the use of arbitrary constants.  This is unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons.  I've decided to instead base the \(M\) scores on 5-year moving averages.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Breaking Down Bueno de Mesquita 2005

This series has focused so far on interstate crisis bargaining.  There are some important pieces that I still want to cover in that area, but for now, let me turn my attention to terrorism.

In "Conciliation, Counterterrorism, and Patterns of Terrorist Violence," Ethan Bueno de Mesquita seeks to explain why governments offer concessions to groups that engage in terrorist violence despite the tendency for violence to increase afterwards.  If offering concessions only invites more terrorism, as appears to be the case, what reason could governments possibly have for doing so?

Monday, September 17, 2012

What's Wrong with Huntington's Clash of Civilizations?

A better question might be "What's not wrong with Huntington's Clash of Civilizations?", but I'll try not to be too pedantic. In light of recent events, interest in Huntington's thesis has been growing. Even the NYTimes is using language that is clearly influenced by Huntington's work, though they don't specifically mention it. So let's review the merits (such as they are) and demerits of this argument.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Follow-up on Measuring Military Capabilities

In a previous post, I introduced a new index of military capabilities, based on data that is already widely in use (see also this Duck of Minerva post). Based on the great feedback I've received, I decided it was time to revise the measure, and to see how well it does in accounting for war outcomes and the likelihood of conflict.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Measuring Military Capabilities

There have been some interesting discussions about how to measure the position of the United States relative to China in the past few months (see here for an earlier take).

One point that has been made a few times, particularly by Beckley, is that we put too much weight on the sheer size of a country. If you took a middling power and added 50 million or so desperately poor, illiterate, starving people, both their GDP and CINC scores (available here, under the National Material Capabilities page of Available Data Sets) would increase dramatically. Yet none of us really believe that such a nation would grow appreciably stronger as a result. It's high time someone proposed a measure that is immune to this criticism.

I doubt it's perfect (in fact, I'm sure it's not), but I'd like to propose such a measure. It focuses exclusively on military components, and so I'm imaginatively calling it M.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Breaking Down Fearon 1995

This is the first in a semi-regular series on prominent applications of game theory to the study of international conflict.\(^1\) My goal is to clarify the main contribution of the piece. I'll do so first by offering a brief synopsis before going through the key claims in more detail. Along the way, I'll try to note some of the important implications and points of common confusion. Assuming that format makes sense to you all, I'll do the same with future articles.

We begin with what I consider to be the single most important contribution to the study of international conflict in the last 25 years: Fearon's Rationalist Explanations for War.

Friday, February 24, 2012

When do Human Rights Treaties Reduce Repression?

With the generous support of the Graduate Student Association, we were fortunate enough to have Emily Ritter come up to Buffalo this week and give a talk on that very question, based on a couple of related projects she is working on with Courtenay R. Conrad.  I'm going to do my best to summarize the argument from the first paper (available here).