v8n1_11 - Formal Models and Conflict Intervention Success...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Formal Models and Conflict Intervention: Success as a Research Program and Policy Relevance by David Carment and Dane Rowlands International relations theory can identify and frame important questions, but Pentagon and State Department officials will probably always be more interested in detailed case studies, prepared by area-studies experts. Theorizing about the causes of war might occasionally generate clean, law-like propositions that appeal to policymakers. But more typically, the discipline generates broad patterns that can be applied to particular cases only with a great deal of caution. “We have to recognize that there are limits to the predictive powers of political science,” says Mr. [Robert] Art. “That’s not an excuse to be sloppy. It’s just to say that we don’t have unified grand theories of many phenomena, especially not something as complex as war. None of us can predict the consequences of what will happen in the Middle East. Maybe this is why policy makers don’t pay much attention to academics.” 1 T his article is an assessment of conflict intervention models and what can be done to improve the possibilities that formal techniques of conflict analysis can have a broader policy-relevant audience and impact. First, we examine the effectiveness of formal intervention modeling as a research program. More specifically, we evaluate the success of formal modeling in meeting the objectives of accumulation, integration, and synthesis. Second, we examine how its strengths and failures as a research program affect the policy relevance of conflict intervention modeling. We conclude with observations about how to strengthen future research in order to enhance contributions to policy applications. E VALUATING F ORMAL M ODELING OF I NTERVENTION AS A R ESEARCH P ROGRAM To help us understand and evaluate the progress of formal modeling, we consider its capacity to meet three key objectives within the broader research program of conflict analysis. The first objective is “accumulation,” or the ability to build on previous findings and modify or discard arguments for which empirical support is lacking. The second objective is “integration,” the drawing on alternative David Carment is a Professor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. Dane Rowlands is Associate Director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. 133
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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations methodologies that provide similar findings in a different research context. The third objective is “synthesis,” the use of multiple levels of analysis ranging from individuals to large groups or nations. 2
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v8n1_11 - Formal Models and Conflict Intervention Success...

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