The Chicken or the Egg?: A Coevolutionary Approach to Disputed Issues and Militarized Conflict

  • Shawna K. Metzger
International Interactions, forthcoming

Is state behavior influenced by the context in which it occurs, or does context arise because of the way in which states behave? I investigate these questions in the context of international disputes over issues and states’ militarized behavior. The prevalent assumption in interstate conflict research is that disputed issues are exogenous to militarization patterns. I question the validity of this assumption, arguing that there are reasons to suspect that certain states self-select into disputes. I use a coevolution modeling strategy to allow the existence of disputes and states’ behavior to mutually affect one another. I find that disputes are not exogenous to states’ militarized behavior. States that resort to militarized behavior are more likely to dispute an issue than peaceful states. I also find evidence of behavioral contagion among states engaged in disputes: militarized behavior begets militarized behavior.