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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Bear Braumoeller

Countries May Simply Have Less Ability to Fight

COLUMBUS, Ohio – While some researchers have claimed that war between nations is in decline, a new analysis suggests we shouldn’t be too quick to celebrate a more peaceful world.

The study finds that there is no clear trend indicating that nations are less eager to wage war, said Bear Braumoeller, author of the study and associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University.

Conflict does appear to be less common than it had been in the past, he said. But that’s due more to an inability to fight than to an unwillingness to do so. 

"As empires fragment, the world has split up into countries that are smaller, weaker and farther apart, so they are less able to fight each other," Braumoeller said.  "Once you control for their ability to fight each other, the proclivity to go to war hasn’t really changed over the last two centuries."

Braumoeller presented his research Aug. 29 in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.

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Mershon Center affiliate Peter Mansoor was quoted in a speech by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) on the House floor last week paying tribute to civilians who have served in difficult regions around the world.

Here's what Rep. Wolf said: "Dr. Peter R. Mansoor, the Raymond E. Mason Jr. Chair in Military History and the former Executive Officer to Gen. David Petraeus, when he was commander of the multinational forces in Iraq had this to say about civilian service: 'The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been difficult ventures, but the nation could not have achieved its objectives in either conflict without the support of American civilians, who came to the fight with a number of critical specialties and who shouldered more of the load than their numbers would suggest. The Nation owes our civilian veterans a great deal of gratitude for their service in the nation's wars since 9/11.'"

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John Mueller, Ralph D. Mershon Senior Research Scientist at the Mershon Center, has won the Philip E. Converse Book Award for his book War, Presidents and Public Opinion (Wiley, 1973).

Given by the Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior organized section of the American Political Science Association, the Converse Award recognizes an outstanding book in the field published at least five years previous for lasting influence on public opinion research.

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Erik Nisbet

Simply communicating the benefits is not enough

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Some open-minded people can be swayed to support government intervention on climate change – but only if they are presented with both the benefits and the costs, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that those who were open-minded didn’t change their view if they heard arguments for only one side of the issue.

People who are relatively more closed-minded did not change their mind regardless of the messages they received, or what their original views were. There was also no evidence of open-minded people becoming less supportive of government intervention, no matter if they heard both sides of the argument or only one.

“Climate change is such a polarizing issue that has received so much attention, so it is very difficult to influence people to change their opinion,” said Mershon affiliate Erik Nisbet, co-author of the study and assistant professor of communication at The Ohio State University.  “But our results suggest there are ways to approach the issue that may have some impact, at least for a segment of the public.”

The study appears online in the Journal of Communication and will be published in a future print edition.

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