Dissertation Spotlight: Only Friends Can Betray You: Domestic Political Shocks and Interstate Conflict Behavior

 Debates related to and composed of international relations and changes in the domestic politics of a state influence international conflict as well as raise questions regarding increasing interdependence between states. The researcher brings up two questions and ideas regarding international relations: ‘whether, and to what extent, changes in the domestic politics of a state influence international conflict and questions regarding the increasing interdependence between states and whether, and how, interdependence changes international conflict.’ Furthermore, the researcher strives to link the continuing debates of international relations together by a theoretical foundation that they all have in common with the Prospect Theory. The Prospect Theory is the root of all the debates and questions regarding domestic politics of a state.

These debates have caused close allies to become enemies and rivals due to such issues. The researcher argues that these conflicts between State A and State B are causing more harm than they are benefiting them. Although changes to the states’ domestic politics causes rivalries and conflicts, domestic changes and shocks can play a part in the end of the rivalries. Three types of domestic political changes are applied to this argument: changes in leadership, changes in preference, and changes in governing institutes.

The last topic that the researcher explores is how large changes regarding domestic politics in a country will influence how much hostility is occurring over long-established territorial disputes that the country is accustomed to. The Prospect Theory also plays a role in this argument.

The researcher then poses the question of: “What causes rivalry?” The researcher wants to establish a response to this question, exclaiming that it is of major importance. Conflicts arising between Iraq, Syria and Yemen are persistent with the activities and rivals within Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The causes of these rivalries have been researched and the importance of that research is ever-growing. The Prospect Theory explains how behaviors will meet the expectations for the theory created by the decision makers–specifically with regard to situations where the choices may be difficult to make. This can help to explain many domestic policy changes. Losing a trade partner or an ally within the domestic political states will drive the action for demands and can ultimately threaten the leaders and make it possible for them to be undermined. The researcher explains that having allies and trade partners is crucial to domestic politics in correspondence with State A and State B. The researcher explains that State B is projected to prioritize re-gaining the ‘status quo’ that they once had.

Dr. Richard Saunders is a graduate of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University. This post was based on Richard’s dissertation, written by COSSPP Blog Intern, Katelyn DeStefano.

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