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On Dangerous Ground
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Book description

As a rule, countries consider clearly defined international borders to be paramount for their survival and prosperity. Most borders gain definition peacefully and, once they do, these definitions stick (i.e., the border remains settled). The failure to define borders, however, produces protracted, geopolitical, militarized competitions (or rivalries) between neighboring countries. Rider and Owsiak model this failure as a particular type of bargaining problem - namely, bargaining over territory that affects the distribution of power between neighbouring states significantly - that undermines efforts to resolve border disagreements peacefully. Countries must then overcome this bargaining problem or risk falling into a protracted rivalry, which then needs to be addressed with more resources. The authors develop a theory of how borders settle. They then explore the consequences of the failure to settle, theoretically connecting it to the onset of rivalries. This leads to the process that helps rivals overcome the bargaining problem, resolve their border disagreement, and terminate their rivalry.


'On Dangerous Ground is a major work of scholarship on conflict processes.  The book offers a compelling analysis that significantly advances our understanding of rivalry, notably in the context of bargaining over territory and settlement of borders.  This volume is essential reading for scholars of International Relations.'

Patrick James - Dornsife Dean's Professor of International Relations, University of South Carolina

'An innovative and path breaking book that combines theoretical insights from the issue and bargaining model approaches to help readers understand the dynamics of border settlement, rivalry onset, and rivalry termination. The authors show that territories whose settlement could shift the balance of power are at the heart of the most enduring and deadly rivalries in history.'

Sara McLaughlin Mitchell - F. Wendell Miller Professor of Political Science, University of Iowa

‘On Dangerous Ground is a tour de force. Rider and Owsiak collect numerous stylized facts about the relationship between territory and war under a single, flexible bargaining framework that is equally useful for explaining and indicating potential solutions to some of the world’s most intractable conflicts.’

Scott Wolford - Professor, Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin

‘This work combines two key elements in international conflict research - rivalries and territorial disputes - with the result of new insights into both and some guide to how to avoid the bargaining failures that lead to war.’

Paul F. Diehl - Ashbel Smith Professor of Political Science, University of Texas-Dallas

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