Where Do Great Powers Collide? Spatial Analysis of Major Conflict Locations, 1816-1992

Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association Annual Conference “Global Governance: Political Authority in Transition”, Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 16 March 2011

Kentaro Sakuwa

“Where on the globe do great powers fight? Despite the increasing attention to geospatially inspired research themes and spatial patterns of conflict in general, whether locations of great power-related conflict in particular show distinct spatial patterns has rarely been examined. An exploratory analysis of recently assembled Militarized Interstate Disputes Locations (MIDLOC) dataset reveals that there is significant clustering of major power-related militarized disputes throughout the period ranging from 1816 to 1992. Global and local clusters of intense disputes among great powers are detected. Applying major tools of spatial data analysis, the paper demonstrates that, despite a drastic change in the overall spatial distribution of international disputes in the post-war world, spatial distribution of important disputes among major powers remain relatively similar even after the Second World War. There is a band of conflict among major powers on the periphery of the Eurasian continent ranging from South Europe to East Asia, where competitions among major powers have concentrated throughout the period. The results suggest that geostrategically crucial locations for major powers, hence arena for global competitions, have been relatively stable over time. The data analysis adds an important spatial perspective to the study of conflict among great powers.”

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