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Scare Tactics
The Politics of International Rivalry

Michael P. Colaresi

Cloth $34.95s    |    0-8156-3066-2    |   2005

Explains the process whereby countries become locked into long-term and deadly international conflict and how they can escape that conflict spiral.

"This thoughtful study by Colaresi challenges some of the conventional thinking on the dynamics of violence in international conflicts. Its objective is to explain the processes of long-term violent interactions between states and how such conflicts can be brought to an end. After a critical review of the existing theoretical literature, the author advances his own eclectic model of ‘two-level pressure,’ which combines international threats, future expectations, and domestic politics to predict patterns of rivalry, escalation, and de-escalation over time. Using quantitative and qualitative analysis, the model is applied to three case studies of conflicts: Somalia-Ethiopia, Israel-Egypt, and US-China. In addition, a cross-sectional time-series procedure is employed to analyze 56 rivalries between 1950 and 1990 that strongly support the two-level approach. This book concludes with a plethora of significant finding and an agenda for future research, pointing to the better integration of domestic and international theorizing on conflict. A welcome addition to the scholarship on inter-state peace and conflict. The dynamic two-level pressure model could be useful to investigate interactive violence, including terrorism, insurgencies, and rebellions, between states and nonstate entities. Highly recommended."
dash Choice

"The Politics of International Rivalry is a fine pick for any college-level collection strong in international political science courses: it identifies faults in conventional thinking about international conflicts and competition, examining how domestic and interstate interactions blend to encourage either international war or diplomatic relations, and it surveys how pressures and tensions within and between countries escalate into rivalry and problems. Statistics blend with analysis and research in an important key to understanding some of the influences upon and roots of international conflict."
dash The Midwest Book Review

Why do international situations spiral out of control and into war? Why do conflicts finally wind down after years, if not decades, of tension? Various faults in conventional thinking, ranging from relying on indeterminate predictions to ignoring the interaction between domestic and international events, have impeded adequate explanations for the continuation, escalation, and dampening of rivalry conflict.

In Scare Tactics: The Politics of International Rivalry, Michael P. Colaresi explains how domestic institutions and interactions among nations converge to create incentives for either war or peace. Specifically, domestic pressure to continue a rivalry and resist capitulating to the "enemy" can be exacerbated in situations where elites benefit from fear-mongering, a process Colaresi refers to as "rivalry outbidding." When rivalry outbidding becomes fused with pressure to change the status quo, even a risky escalation may be preferable to cooperation or rivalry maintenance. The eventual outcomes of such dynamic two-level pressures, if unchecked, are increased conflict, destruction, and death. Colaresi contends, however, that if leaders can resist pressures to escalate threats and step up rivalries, a deteriorating status quo can instead spur cooperation and peace.

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Michael P. Colaresi is assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University. He is the author of several articles on political science.

6 x 9, 232 pages, index, 18 black-and white photographs, 4 figures, bibliography, notes

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