“Why States No Longer Declare War”

by Andrew Gelman on September 5, 2013 · 2 comments

in International Relations,War

Yesterday in this space Eric Grynaviski argued that “we [the United States] need declarations of war.” Given that Grynaviski is also suggesting that innocents inside of Syria be able to “exercise a veto over U.S. policy (if feasible),” I think it’s safe to say that his views are far from the mainstream of U.S. thinking. This is fine–it’s good for scholars to think outside the box–but I think it means that his view of “need” is pretty theoretical.

In any case, I thought it would be helpful to point to this paper (link to preprint here) from Tanisha Fazal, “Why States No Longer Declare War.” Fazal argues that “one set of norms–the rise of international humanitarian law–generates unintended consequences that include disincentives to comply with the long-held norm of declaring war.”

{ 2 comments }

JP September 5, 2013 at 11:44 am

While this is an interesting topic, paper, and dataset, I don’t buy this argument at all. The causal mechanism is that people are worried about getting into legal trouble if they declare war? There is just no way that is what decision-makers are thinking. And the data analysis is completely unconvincing.

Fr. September 16, 2013 at 11:15 am

The paper gets written in 2009 and published in 2013. During something like three years and a half, the data could have been out for external scrutiny. Perhaps it has, but there is no obvious trace of that. There’s certainly something that needs fixing in the research/publishing process.

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