Globalization's Peace: The Impact of Economic Connections on State Aggression and Systemic Conflict

By Brian D. Blankenship
2012, Vol. 4 No. 08 | pg. 1/4 |

The question of whether economic relations have an impact on interstate military has divided scholars and political thinkers since the Enlightenment. Kant claimed that economic interconnectedness among states would contribute to long-term peace in international politics, but since that time consensus has proved illusory, and scholars have taken a diverse array of positions in the debate. Some have claimed that economic connections foster good will and political integration, and that states will be reluctant to risk the benefits of trade through the initiation of conflict; others have insisted that trade has no impact on international conflict; and yet others have argued that trade simply adds to the interstate competition that breeds conflict and war (Maoz 2009, pp. 224-226; Kim and Rousseau 2005).

Moreover, the divide has extended to the way in which students of have perceived historical and current events. Certain historical observers have vilified economic insulation and protectionist policies, such as import barriers, as causes of the 1930s conflicts that produced World War II—the implication being that economic interconnectedness could have prevented the cataclysm by promoting bonds of mutual interest and cooperation (Buzan 1984, p. 610). However, others have pointed to the occurrence of World War I as an indication that economic ties need not promote interstate peace, as a hitherto unprecedented degree of global trade preceded and failed to prevent that conflict (Ferguson 2005).

The concern about the relationship between trade and violent conflict is all the more relevant in the modern era of “.” Economic interconnectedness has increasingly become the norm, with insulation from it a remote exception. In the face of this international reality, a re-examination of the potential impact that these economic ties could have upon is more than an academic exercise—it is an endeavor with tremendous policymaking importance, as statesmen have used the prospect of fostering peace as justification for their trade and economic policies.1 This study’s goal is to contribute to the larger study of conflict in this regard. Ideally this research will raise implications and questions such that more scholars can make use of them as they make further breakthroughs in this realm.

International conflict can manifest itself in a number of ways such as “diplomatic protests, hostile propaganda statements, and the breaking of bilateral agreement” (Gasiorowski 1986, p. 25). But military disputes bring an entirely different level of hostility to international politics. It is for this reason that I focus on armed conflict in this paper; an empirical analysis of non-violent interstate conflict using this study’s theoretical framework must be saved for the future.

The goal of this research is to present a fresh conceptual model and statistical analysis through which the relationship between interstate economic ties and interstate military conflict can be examined, as my model differs from those of previous scholars in key ways. Most of the literature is focused on interdependence among specific countries. That is, dyadic pairings of interdependent partners have received the most attention, with conflict between them seen as a failure of interdependence to prevent it.2 However, direct conflicts with partner states are not the only means by which an aggressive state can “turn off” investors and trading partners. As Maoz (2009, pp. 225-226) notes, states should even be “reluctant to initiate conflict against enemies with whom they do not have direct trade ties because the uncertainty and instability associated with conflict may cause their trading partners to look for other markets” [emphasis mine]. Thus, I use aggression as a means to measure interstate conflict. This study analyzes the impact of a state’s total economic ties with the international system on the likelihood that it will exhibit aggression against any state, as states should fear provoking economic retribution from those states with which they do have direct trading ties. Other scholars have examined systemic rather than dyadic conflict, but they do not systematically analyze the relationship between economic interconnectedness and instances of monadic state aggression in general.3

Ultimately, I find support for the argument that economic ties are conducive to peace. My findings indicate that greater participation in world trade reduces states’ likelihood of aggression, but that greater openness to the inward and outward flow of capital increases state aggression. However, I also find that both types of economic ties tend to limit the scope of conflicts at the systemic level.

In this paper, I begin first by discussing three theoretical perspectives on international relations, their differing predictions for the relationship between economic interconnectedness and interstate conflict, and theoretical explanations that might explain their predictions. A discussion of how my model measures states’ economic connections and aggression, as well as a statistical analysis of the data on sampled countries then follow, along with a discussion of the findings and the conclusions that can be drawn from this study.

Suggested Reading from Inquiries Journal

The relationship between trade and conflicts between countries in South Asia is important to examine because of the rising prominence of this region of the world. Security issues are of utmost concern when considering the... MORE»
Advertisement
The Economic Monetary Union (EMU) is the end point of an ambitious and historic stage of integrated market changes1 that not only challenge the structure and foundation of modern-day liberal capitalism, but also offer – where successful – a wealth of opportunity in the goods, labour and service industries of the European Union. A fiscal extension to the principles of the Schengen Agreement2 of 1985 offered a financial breakthrough where... MORE»
In 2005, during a period of heightened tensions between China and Taiwan and with the United States deeply embroiled in two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the leading authority on East Asian security within the National Security Council nevertheless made the point that “one of the greatest dangers to international security... MORE»
The Internet is the world’s great equalizer. As the driving force behind globalization and modern progress, the Internet has enabled us to communicate with others across the world almost instantly and provides a medium for cultural, informational, and ideological exchange. It provides a previously unimaginable level of interconnectedness that benefits business, government, and civilians... MORE»
Submit to Inquiries Journal, Get a Decision in 10-Days

Inquiries Journal provides undergraduate and graduate students around the world a platform for the wide dissemination of academic work over a range of core disciplines.

Representing the work of students from hundreds of institutions around the globe, Inquiries Journal's large database of academic articles is completely free. Learn more | Blog | Submit

Follow SP

Latest in Political Science

2016, Vol. 8 No. 07
As Europe’s frontier with the Muslim East, Greece has been cast as backward, and not worthy of full sovereignty since the earliest years of its independence from the Ottoman empire. Greece's contradictory position as guardian of the origins... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 11 No. 2
Four decades after independence from Portugal, Angola remains a country with significant barriers to good governance and social development. Although the state's constitution established a multiparty democracy in the early 1990s, measures of high... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 11 No. 2
Bataclan. San Bernadino. One need not read any further to understand how radicalization is crucial to counterterrorism and national security. Some states have implemented counter-radicalization strategies to cull terrorism at its root. These tactics... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 8 No. 05
It is a common misperception that Islamist organizations are men’s groups. Some, like the Muslim Brotherhood, even involve specifically gendered names, or include other references to “brothers” and “brotherhood.” Beyond... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 8 No. 04
In public discourse, Africa and the Middle East have become synonymous with ethnic and religious conflict, whereas Europe is known as a bastion of peace and stability. But are areas known for their ‘high conflict’ truly more susceptible... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 8 No. 03
Developing states with large natural resource industries have an inclination to become over-reliant on one source of capital, causing other industries to fail, promoting corruption, and stimulating crime. Nigeria is one such case, as their booming... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 8 No. 02
In Developing a Critical Realist Positional Approach to Intersectionality, Martinez et. al. (2014) argue that Critical Realism (henceforth ‘CR’) solves what they identify as the methodological ‘crisis’ within intersectionality... Read Article »

What are you looking for?

FROM OUR BLOG

Writing a Graduate School Personal Statement
How to Manage a Group Project (Video)
How to Select a Graduate Research Advisor