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Journal Article

Contiguity and Military Escalation in Major Power Rivalries, 1816-1980

Paul F. Diehl
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 47, No. 4 (Nov., 1985), pp. 1203-1211
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2130814
Page Count: 9
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Contiguity and Military Escalation in Major Power Rivalries, 1816-1980
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Abstract

This research note analyzes the importance of geography for the study of conflict and explores the question: Does the geographic location (relative to the nations involved) of a confrontation influence the likelihood that the confrontation will escalate to war? It was discovered that if a dispute is contiguous by land to one of the disputants, the likelihood of escalation is increased (and increased even more if both sides are contiguous to the site). Ninety-two percent of the wars in the sample began with a dispute that was contiguous to one or both disputants; only two percent of the noncontiguous disputes escalated to war. Various interpretations of the results and suggestions for future research are noted.

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