The coming natural experiment

My latest essay at TNI online discusses how the current financial crisis threatens to undermine the liberal logic for perpetual peace, which will lead to an interesting natural experiment.  I like my opening paragraph best:  For a lot of very boring reasons having to do with “ethics,” political scientists are not allowed to conduct real ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

My latest essay at TNI online discusses how the current financial crisis threatens to undermine the liberal logic for perpetual peace, which will lead to an interesting natural experiment.  I like my opening paragraph best:  For a lot of very boring reasons having to do with “ethics,” political scientists are not allowed to conduct real experiments in world politics. We can’t tell a head of state, “say, would you mind invading this neighboring country to see if a balancing coalition forms against you?” Our lot in life is hard this way. The best that international-relations scholars can hope for is a “natural experiment.” This is when events change the value of a particularly important variable, and we can then closely observe the effects of that change on world politics. We’re about to experience a natural experiment on the causes of war, and the results may or may not be pretty. Go check it out

My latest essay at TNI online discusses how the current financial crisis threatens to undermine the liberal logic for perpetual peace, which will lead to an interesting natural experiment.  I like my opening paragraph best: 

For a lot of very boring reasons having to do with “ethics,” political scientists are not allowed to conduct real experiments in world politics. We can’t tell a head of state, “say, would you mind invading this neighboring country to see if a balancing coalition forms against you?” Our lot in life is hard this way. The best that international-relations scholars can hope for is a “natural experiment.” This is when events change the value of a particularly important variable, and we can then closely observe the effects of that change on world politics. We’re about to experience a natural experiment on the causes of war, and the results may or may not be pretty.

Go check it out

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

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