In reaction to Charli’s provocative February 20 post on the constructivist peace, I left a number of questions in comments. Since more people read the blog than read the comments, I thought it was worthwhile to put them on the front page as a separate post.

Thus, if you are interested, click through. I’ve added a few pertinent links as well to create added value for people who already read the original comments.

I’m not familiar with the specific studies noted in Charli’s post, but do wonder about the scope and interpretation of the data — especially in regard to the “abusers’ peace.”

1. International war is a fairly rare event in the past 65 years, but civil war is far more common. What kinds of states are most likely to experience civil war?

The COW database, by the way, treats the Soviet and CIA/Pakistan interventions in Afghanistan as a civil war. By contrast, Vietnam is coded as an international war.

2. How much of the abusers’ peace might be explained by decades of Soviet hegemony over eastern Europe? Would Soviet hegemony reflect shared identity?

Following Rummel, what kinds of regimes practice democide?

3. Given that human rights abusers arguably long outnumbered non-abusers in international politics, and that international war itself is rare, isn’t any quantitative study using those variables bound to find a somewhat misleading abusers’ peace?

4. Is this really just a back-handed way of pointing out that the US, UK, and France (or NATO) have primarily intervened in states with poor human rights records — including former colonies? Most of the other recent mixed-dyad international wars seemingly involve Israel and its neighbors or India-Pakistan.

5. Just eye-balling the list of international wars, I see a number of abuser-abuser conflict dyads in recent decades: Iran-Iraq, Ethiopia-Somalia, China-Vietnam, Cambodia-Vietnam, and Uganda-Tanzania.

When these states were not fighting, did that reflect shared identity?

Does any hypothesized shared identity among abusers apply to the regime or the people?

6. How long before this thread leads us to the “clash of civilizations“?

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