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Volume 4

Expanded Contents | Figures | Tables


1. Perspective And Summary
2. International Relations
3. The International Actors
4. International Behavior Space-Time
5. International Expectations And Dispositions
6. International Actor And Situation
7. International Sociocultural Space-Time
8. Interests, Capabilities, And Wills
9. The Social Field Of International Relations
10. Latent International Conflict
11. International Conflict: Trigger, Will, And Preparations
12. The Balancing Of Power
13. Comparative Dynamics Of International Conflict
15. Empirical Dynamics Of International Conflict
16. Causes And Conditions Of International Conflict And War
17. Ending Conflict And War: The Balance Of Powers
18. The International Conflict Helix
19. Theoretical And Empirical Conclusions On Conflict And War 20. Principles Of Peace And Conflict


15A. Phasing Propositions and Their Evidence on International Conflict
16A. On Causes of International Conflict
16B. Propositions and Their Evidence on the Causes and Conditions of International Conflict Behavior
16C. Evidence on the Causes and Conditions of International Conflict Behavior
18A. Descriptive Propositions on International Conflict
19A. Overall Evidence on 54 Social Field Propositions on International Conflict
19B. Primary Propositions on Social Conflict
I. Unpublished Research and Results on International Relations
II. Event Data: Bases of Empirical Conflict Analysis
III. Characteristics of Published Quantitative International Relations Studies

Other Volumes

Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field
Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix
Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective
Vol. 5: The Just Peace

Other Related Work

Conflict And Violence page

Democratic Peace page


Appendix 17A

Propositions And Evidence On
The Causes And Conditions Of
Ending International Conflict Behavior*

By R.J. Rummel


The ending, or termination subphase, of Conflict Behavior is empirically distinct and therefore should have causes and conditions specific to it.

The definition and discussion of necessary and sufficient causes given in Appendix 16A are relevant here, but regarding conditions a terminological change is required to avoid confusion. I will define any conditions conducive to the end of Conflict Behavior, violence or war as accelerating conditions.

The causes and conditions of ending conflict behavior are listed in Table 17A.1.

There is one necessary and sufficient cause, and no other causes which are necessary or sufficient. In other words, there is only one general cause of the termination of Conflict Behavior.

A number of accelerating conditions are listed, all of which refer to war. Because of the paucity of empirical research on ending other kinds of conflict behavior only those theoretical causes that accelerate the end of war are given.

Table 17A.2 lists the propositions associated with the cause and accelerators in Table 17A.1. Each of these propositions will be discussed in turn, as in Appendix 16B for conflict behavior. But, before doing this, one clarification is necessary.

The ending of Conflict Behavior, violence, or war means that only the overt behavior ends. To participants or observers, only the fighting may have stopped (as in the four Arab-Israel wars since 1948), but no resolution of the dispute has occurred. No peace treaty may be signed; no negotiations may take place. The fighting may have terminated by mutual agreement, or may have tapered off without public contact or agreement between the participants. The issue or dispute is frozen, unresolved, or so it appears.

On the other hand, a resolution of the conflict, a negotiated settlement may be congruent with the termination of Conflict Behavior. Therefore, what is meant here by "ending" covers a variety of routes through which conflicts are resolved or terminated.


Proposition 17.1 (Balance of Powers): Conflict will be ended by a new balance of powers.

Conflict Behavior will end when both parties have established a new structure of expectations consistent with their relative powers (interests, capabilities, and wills) as defined by the confrontation.

Theory: Conflict Behavior is caused by a disruption of a structure of expectations (Proposition 16.1) which has become incongruent with a changing balance of powers (Proposition 16.3). The Conflict Behavior is then a process through which is determined a new, mutually perceived balance of interests, capabilities, and wills--a new structure of expectations.

The key to theoretically understanding Conflict Behavior, therefore, is as a balancing of powers. It can end only when a new balance both parties are willing and able to live with is defined; the mutual determination of such a balance ends the Conflict Behavior.

Prediction: If the Balance-of-Powers proposition is true, a number of consequences should be empirically evident. There should be a clear shift in the structure of expectations before and after a conflict. That is, the Conflict Behavior should be a transition period between two different sets of understandings, rules, agreements, treaties, and the like.

Moreover, during the process of conflict a clear balance of powers should become evident to observers. Either one side will begin to show, unambiguously, the stronger power, where power = (interests) X (capabilities) X (will); or neither side will be shown to have a clear, decisive edge. Then the ending of the conflict should be a matter of time and face saving arrangements for one or both sides.

Evidence: Table 17A.3 lists the evidence for this and the other propositions. The evidence is organized as in Appendix 16C.

The only evidence bearing on the proposition is Randle's (1972) detailed and analytical analysis of the outcome of 46 wars (selected from 60 studied). This study is directly relevant and important and it provides positive support.

Conclusion: As in the previous chapters, I will not consider one analysis as sufficient to say a proposition is supported or not. Therefore: there is insufficient evidence for the proposition.

Proposition 17.2 (Domestic Interests): The ending of a war is strongly influenced by domestic interests and opinion.

Contending domestic interests and opinion will be correlated with the termination and settlement of war.

Theory: War is a balancing of interests, capabilities and wills through coercion and force. Integral to this balancing is the support of domestic public opinion and interests. If there develops a shift in opinion and interest groups away from support of the war, then the ability of a leadership to pursue the war should be weakened, and the original war aims themselves should be revised downward. An example of this is President Johnson's loss of his domestic support for continuing the Vietnam war after the North Vietnamese-Vietcong Tet offensive of 1968.

Prediction: There should be a positive correlation between (1) shifts in domestic public opinion and interests groups against a state's involvement in war and (2) the effort of its leadership to end the war on terms previously unacceptable. Moreover, such a positive correlation should also be found with (3) the changing war aims of the leadership, which should be scaled downward; or with (4) a change in leadership toward those with a more dovish view. (On the meaning of positive correlation, see Understanding Correlation.)

Evidence: Two direct and important dynamic analyses support the proposition. Randle's (1972) analysis documents the significance of domestic interests. Barringer's (1972) analysis shows the end of hostilities is discriminated by the establishment of a new leadership for the losing side.

Conclusion: The evidence supports the proposition.

Proposition 17.3 (Outcome): War will likely be terminated when both sides have come to expect the same outcome.

The end of war is correlated with a mutually consistent expectation of the outcome.

Theory: Wars begin only when both sides expect they will be successful. This is the Confidence Proposition 16.9. Clearly, these mutual expectations are inconsistent.

War is then a process through which this inconsistency is removed. The expectations of both sides about the war's outcome are brought together. Both sides come to agree as to who has the dominant power and is likely to win. Or both have come to realize that neither has the power to decisively defeat the other.

In either case, the mutual agreement on the outcome removes the ambiguity of power initially involved and helps establish the balance of powers that is necessary and sufficient for conflict to end.

This recognition is an accelerator, not a necessary or sufficient cause. Some leaders may refuse to surrender in spite of obvious defeat and hoping for a miracle fight to the bitter end, as did Hitler in World War II. Some peoples may believe in fighting to the end for their nation, religion or ideals.

Prediction: Through content analysis of official statements and the historical analysis of foreign affairs documents, the trend lines in official thinking during war time could be established. This should usually show for the defeated state a definite recognition of impending defeat, an acceptance of the victory claims of the enemy, before war is terminated.

Evidence: As shown in Table 17A.3, Barringer's (1972) analysis provides important, direct, and strong support for the proposition. He finds that the single variable most discriminating the settlement of hostilities is that the outcome of the dispute is now apparent to both sides. Neither side, moreover, expects that escalation will change the situation or encourage further third party help.

Conclusion: Still, one study is not enough for me to say the proposition is supported. Therefore: insufficient evidence.

Proposition 17.4 (Military Power): A decisive shift in military power to one side in a war will enhance termination.

The end of war is correlated with a decisive shift in military power to one side.

Theory: Again, war begins in a situation where power = (interests) X (capabilities) X (will) is ambiguous enough for both sides to expect success. War ends in a new, mutually recognized balance of powers.

A decisive shift in military capability to one side helps eliminate ambiguity about power and communicates the likelihood of defeat to the other. Moreover, it weakens the other's ability to alter this outcome by escalation or perseverance.

Of course, this shift in military capability may be compensated for by an opposite shift in will or interests. This happened in Vietnam after the Tet Offensive of 1968 by the North Vietnamese and their Vietcong front. The offensive ended in a clear military defeat which indicated a significant shift in military power to the United States and South Vietnam. However, the psychological and political impact of Tet, magnified by the American news media, caused an opposing shift in American interests and a weakening of American will to continue the war. This is to say that a military shift increases the likelihood of termination, but other factors may intervene.

Prediction: When physical capability shifts decisively (the relative power is not obvious) to one side in the course of war, termination is likely. This shift, therefore, should be positively correlated with the war's end.

Evidence: Barringer (1972) presents important and direct evidence. He finds that the termination phase of hostilities is distinguished by one party no longer having adequate logistic support for ongoing military operations; imbalance in troop strength, attack aircraft and medical facilities; control by one of all population and area involved in the conflict; and elimination of the base support of the other.

Conclusion: Again there is only one study. Therefore: insufficient evidence.

Proposition 17.5 (Ideological Devaluation): Ideological devaluation hastens war termination and settlement.

The end of war is correlated with its ideological devaluation.

Theory: Political ideology is a complex of beliefs about how we should be governed and the ideal social system. Its core is a political formula, an "ism," such as fascism, socialism, Marxist-Leninism, and Libertarianism, which claims a solution to fundamental injustice, inequality, tyranny, and the like.

Wars, such as World War I for the United States, World War II, Korean (1950-1953) or Vietnam, are often seen as ideological confrontations over which political formula will govern a country or region. Such confrontations are most intense, for they engage fundamental beliefs in the true and just. These are struggles not easily resolved by compromise or subdividing a territory. Only exhaustion or clear and decisive military victory will terminate the war.

Such is also true of religious wars. Religion is an ideology of reality and morality. And where religion ends and political ideology begins is not always easy to discern, as for Marxism-Leninism.

In any case, ideological devaluation, or reducing the ideological importance of a dispute to the parties, accelerates the termination of the war.

Prediction: Ideological devaluation can be measured by the analysis of official public statements or the trends in ideological themes or symbols. Internal propaganda and external justification for a war should reflect ideological escalation or devaluation.

Evidence: The only evidence bearing on this proposition is Randle's (1973) direct and important analysis.

Conclusion: Insufficient evidence.

Proposition 17.6 (Duration): War is not terminated because of its casualties.

War duration is uncorrelated with its intensity.

Theory: Wars are fought over a status quo; they are an engagement of interests, capabilities and will. A measure of the intensity of this confrontation is the number killed and wounded.

Except when a leadership has exhausted available combatants and must therefore end hostilities, the accumulated casualties of both sides do not indicate whether: there has occurred a decisive shift in power, domestic interests and opinion maintain their support, a change in expectations of the outcome has occurred, ideology has been devalued, or a balance of powers is about to be achieved. In other words, casualties are too gross a measure to indicate any of those changes during a war that accelerate or presage its end.

Prediction: The casualties (killed, or killed and wounded) of a war (absolutely, or proportionate to the populations involved) should be uncorrelated with its duration.

Evidence: Seven analyses are relevant here, three of them directly. Only one is of an important study (Singer and Small, 1972). Two analyses are strongly positive, two positive, and two negative.

Conclusion: Because there is only one important source of evidence, and the direct evidence divides into two strongly supporting and two negative, caution is required. Therefore, I will only say that the evidence tends to support the proposition.

Proposition 17.7 (Situational): The termination of war is primarily situational.

The manner in which war is terminated and settled is uncorrelated with the attributes of the parties or their relative differences (distance vectors).

Theory: While a variety of attributes and differences commonly affect the onset and escalation of war, its ending is primarily a matter of the direction and outcome of the shifting struggle between the parties. There are commonalities to this struggle which enable one to gauge whether and in what manner an end is in sight: breakdown of domestic support, mutual perception of outcomes, shift in military power to one side, and ideological devaluation. But these commonalities should be generally independent of the characteristic of each party, such as its wealth, power, political system, culture, or the initial differences and similarities between the parties. That is, the termination of war and its settlement depend on the situational dynamics.

Prediction: The ending of a war can be measured by its duration. War can be terminated or resolved through international organizations, judicial decision, bilateral negotiation, or mediation. It can end by judicial award, conquest, being frozen, or compromise and resolution. In any case, the end or manner of such termination should be uncorrelated with the attributes or socioculture distances (vectors) between the parties.

Evidence: Twelve analyses support the proposition. None are negative. Of the twelve, four are strongly supportive, eight are direct and eight are also important. This is the best supported proposition of all in Table 17A.4.

Conclusion: Because of the number of relevant analyses and the lack of any ambiguous or negative results: the proposition is unanimously supported by the evidence.


Tables 17A.4 and 17A.5 summarize the results.

As Table 17A.4 shows, the overall evidence overwhelmingly favors the propositions, even when only the direct or important sources of evidence are isolated. Moreover, when a one-level decrement is applied, the last columns of Table 17A.4 indicate that in general the evidence still favors the propositions.

Table 17A.5 simply summarizes the conclusions on the propositions.


* Scanned from Appendix 17A in R.J. Rummel, War, Power, Peace, 1979. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.

For citations see the Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace REFERENCES

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