COW Future of War Workshop


The Study of Future War and the Future Study of War, March 16-18, 2001

Workshop Themes

  1. Old Wars, New Wars.
    More and more frequently, conflict analysts (e.g., K. J. Holsti, Mary Kaldor, Anatol Lieven) and others opine that the nature of international war has fundamentally changed in the post-Cold War world and that much of the knowledge we have gained from studying past wars is irrelevant. It is alleged that the goals and issues of war have shifted from power politics concerns to ethno-cultural matters and that the ways in which wars are fought have changed dramatically. Instead of traditional confrontations between “official” military forces, international conflict increasingly involves terrorists, paramilitary forces, self-defense units, private armies, and other such non-state groups. Hence, say the critics, interstate wars are a thing of the past; future wars will be essentially internal wars (albeit with serious international implications due to spillover possibilities) that are fundamentally different from traditional interstate conflicts. In view of these and other assertions about the changed nature of war it seems wise to take this occasion to consider how much and it what ways we need to adjust our conceptualization of war.
  2. Old Methods, New Methods.
    It has also been argued that the methods (i.e., measures, models, and techniques) that we conventionally use are out of date. Our measures of conflict and war may be too state-centric and not be as valid as they once were, given the alleged nature of the post-Cold War period. Similarly, our usual measures of those factors that we believe are related to conflict and war (e.g., power) may be substantially less valid in the 21st century. The models that we have tested can certainly be criticized as being too heavily influenced by the “Realist” perspective, in which power, alignment, and geographical factors play a prominent role. The findings concerning the “democratic peace” suggest strongly that we need to expand our models to encompass other international (e.g., economic and cultural) and domestic factors. And finally, some believe that a revolution in statistical methods is underway, of which we are insufficiently aware. This revolution promises to allow us to move beyond the simple, static, linear models that we conventionally use to more complex, dynamic, non-linear models that better represent reality.

Workshop Schedule (as of 3/12/01)

Friday, March 16 (Faculty/Staff 1 and 2, Nittany Lion Inn*)

17:00 Opening Session. Remarks by Dean Susan Welch, Frank Baumgartner, J. David Singer, and Stuart A. Bremer
17:30 Stuart A. Bremer, The Study of Future War and the Future Study of War
18:30-19:30 Reception

Saturday, March 17 (215 Armsby Bldg.)
9:00 James Lee Ray, Does Interstate War Have a Future?
10:00 Paul F. Diehl, Chasing Headlines: Setting the Future Agenda for the Study of War
11:00 Coffee Break
11:30 Brian M. Pollins, The Changing Global Economy and the Future Study of War
12:30 Lunch Break
14:00 Paul R. Hensel, The More Things Change...: Recognizing and Responding to Trends in Armed Conflict
15:00 J. David Singer, War and Peace Research Futures: Preferences and Predictions
16:00 Coffee Break
16:30 General Discussion
17:30 Adjounment

Sunday, March 18 (124 Sparks Bldg.)
9:00 COW2 Advisory Board meeting
11-12 Adjournment

* Campus maps and other useful information about the university and State College can be found at the Penn State Visitor's Guide