a1 Institute of Technology
a2 Stanford University
International conflict has been accounted for in many different ways—in terms of aggressive “instincts,” territoriality, population growth, the search for basic resources or seaports, the protection of trade routes, psychopathological deviations, plunder and profit, a drive for imperialist control, and so forth. Some theorists have considered grievances, competition, anxieties, tension, threat, and provocation to be of special importance. Others have laid heavy emphasis upon national power or capability, military preparedness, strategic considerations, and the competition for dominance.1 No doubt most if not all of these variables are relevant, but this recognition does not help much in the development of a theory of war, its dynamics, and contributing causal networks. In the long run all factors need to be pulled together in some systematic way. A serious difficulty emerges from the fact that the various “causes” that contribute to war tend to be highly interactive, that is, they affect each other in various ways and often in many different directions. The problem is to find out, if possible, which variables are contributing most to international violence and in what proportion. The purpose of this paper is to take an early step in this direction by reporting on some empirical research currently under way and by presenting some tentative findings which suggest partial explanations and some implications and difficulties for national policies.
Nazli Choucri, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the author and co-author of numerous articles on the analysis and forecasting of international conflict behavior.
Robert C. North, Professor of Political Science and Director of Studies in International Conflict and Integration in the Institute of Political Studies, Stanford University, is the author of Moscow and Chinese Communists and other books and articles concerned with international relations, international conflict, crises, and the antecedents of war.
* We would like to thank the editors for their extensive comments and suggestions. We are also indebted to James Foster, Daniel Lerner, Edward Morse, Ithiel de Sola Pool, Thomas Robinson, and Oran Young for their incisive criticisms, and to Hayward Alker and Richard Lagerstrom for their assistance on theoretical and methodological problems.