(Babylonian) Lions, (Asian) Tigers, and (Russian) Bears: a statistical test of three rivalrous paths to conflict

Paul A Kowert, Cameron G Thies
Content Type
Journal Article
Journal of International Relations and Development
Issue Number
Publication Date
July 2013
Central and East European International Studies Association
Structural theories of international relations anticipate no meaningful differences of kind, as opposed to capabilities, among states. Empirical investigations of enduring and strategic rivalries hint at a distinction, however, between states that see themselves as potential rivals and those that do not. Constructivists go further, suggesting that the roles adopted by states during their interactions are the result of varying underlying images of threat. This paper develops the theoretical claim that three different images of threat may produce distinct kinds of rivalry and thereby three paths to militarised interstate conflict. Each image of threat is rooted in a different normative context: strategic threats are associated with violations of the enforcement of Hobbesian cooperative security arrangements; competitive threats are associated with violations of fairness or reasonableness standards in Lockean exchange relationships; and institutional threats are associated with violations of the basis for commitment to Kantian communities of peace. A logistic regression analysis of Correlates of War data, combined with other data relevant to the three threat images, provide empirical support for each of these rivalrous paths to conflict.
Political Geography
Russia, Asia