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Monday, July 10 • 16:30 - 17:00
3145 Analyzing Protracted Conflict Systems: A Comparative Study of State and Non-State Actors

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This study applies the systems approach to the study of protracted conflicts (PCs). The goals of this study are to demonstrate the usefulness of a systemic view-point and to reveal differences in the interactions among state actors, and between state actors and Non-State Actors (NSAs). In other words, this study intends to investigate whether PCs involving NSAs have a different dynamic than those involving state actors alone. The importance of such an inquiry is that identifying differences in interaction patterns between the two kinds of PCs should assist decision-makers in forming suitable policies and in increasing control over events in world politics. For instance, if we could tell that NSAs are more prone than states to attack as a response to a demonstration of power, we would know that we must manage situations with NSAs differently than with states.

In order to broaden the field of PC research, this study sets forth a new conceptual framework that combines knowledge from various disciplines, including international relations, mathematics, physics and engineering. Contemporary research on PCs is largely influenced by 'political realism' which considers only states as main actors that determine the political events in the world system, while leaving the influence of other actors aside. The framework offered by this study is designed to supplement existing research on PCs by broadening it to include NSAs as active participants, enabling researchers to understand the role of both types of actors in PCs dynamic. Accordingly, it offers and applies new concepts that allow for the investigation of those interactions as processes of international systems that contain both states and NSAs as actors. In doing so, it highlights the interactions between states, and between states and NSAs, as chains of interrelated actions. A mathematical analysis of those interaction chains would uncover behavioral differences between state-only PCs and PCs with NSAs. The new concepts include 'Protracted Conflict System' (PCS), 'process bifurcations', 'process stability' and 'dangerousness'.

The study establishes a new dataset containing time-series of salient events from the Israel-Arab PC between 1947-1962, as reported by The New York Times. Each time-series is dyadic and contains actions played by both sides of the dyad. A dyad is the smallest international system, containing only two actors, and therefore is the simplest to describe and analyze. The analysis of dyadic systems allows for a more nuanced investigation that may teach the investigator specific details regarding the relationship between the two actors that would not have been found in systems with more actors, mainly because of the multiplicity of actions that may cancel one another out.

In addressing the differences between state-only PCs and ones with NSAs, the study hypothesizes that they occur in the following areas: 1. Interaction patterns, 2. Causality mechanisms, 3. Process stability levels, and 4. Dangerousness levels. Results have shown that regarding interaction patterns and causal mechanisms PCs with and without NSAs do indeed behave differently. However, regarding process stability and dangerousness, both types of PCs show much resemblance. This indicates that at the basic level of causes of processes, state-only PCs and PCs with NSAs have significant differences; however, at the level of the effects, they behave similarly. Further research should address other PCs and longer spans of time in order to validate these results. Even so, these preliminary results indicate that states and NSAs behave differently in the global political arena. Therefore, it is my hope that this study will aid decision makers in determining how to respond to different types of conflict, as well as motivate the application of the systems approach in uncovering more important traits of world politics.

Monday July 10, 2017 16:30 - 17:00 CEST
2nd Floor, Room SR 125, Institut für Computertechnik,TU Wien Gußhausstraße 27-29, 1040 Wien, Austria

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