Political Approaches to the Management and Resolution of International Conflicts

Dr. Steven J. Klein

Ben Gurion University and senior editor at Haaretz newspaper (2 credits)

Numerous international conflicts since the end of World War II have been managed or resolved by third parties through negotiations and various forms of interventions. During this period, the number of interstate conflicts has declined dramatically while internationalized intrastate conflicts have emerged as the dominant problem facing the international community. This course will survey a variety of political approaches and strategies for managing and resolving such conflicts.


The course will begin with a discussion of the causes of international conflicts as perceived by the major theoretical frameworks for the study of international relations, including realist, constructivist and liberal approaches. Students will learn principles of conflict, bargaining and conflict management theory, focusing on concepts such as the mutually hurting stalemate, conflict ripeness, security dilemmas, bargaining zones, reservation points, zones of possible agreement and two-level games.

Students will then explore the costs and benefits of peaceful and forceful strategies that seek to manage or resolve conflicts through democratization, the promotion of trade, ideational change and timed intervention. Specifically, the class will discuss the role of third parties – be they international institutions or individuals in resolving ethnic conflicts and deterrence, both conventional and nuclear, as a strategy to stabilize conflicts. The course will also examine the dramatic decline in interstate conflicts in contrast to the rise of intrastate conflicts since the fall of Communism, and utilizing the theoretical strategies discussed during the course, consider what lessons if any are applicable to the Middle East.


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