The Dependent Variable of the Domestic-External Conflict Relationship: Anecdotes, Theories, and Systemic Studies

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Heldt, Birger (1997) The Dependent Variable of the Domestic-External Conflict Relationship: Anecdotes, Theories, and Systemic Studies , Journal of Peace Research 34(1): 101–106.

A widely held thesis asserts that public and elite dissatisfaction influences the external conflict behavior of states. Characteristic of many anecdotes, speculations, theoretically informed discussions and systematic studies is a belief in a dependent variable, which ranges from diplomatic protest to war initiation. Whether almost 35 years of systematic research has demonstrate that the actual use of armed force is within this dependent variable's domain of application is investigated, but no convincing support is found for it. The essay ends with some points on why this is the case, as well as on how future research might proceed towards settling the issue: one path is to consider the implications from the findings of the dyadic democratic peace; another is to direct more attention to the rationale for the relationship, its causal paths and key concepts.

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