Abstract: With the end of the Cold War, analysts advanced competing expectations about the likely character of the post-Cold War Order. Many expected a far-reaching transformation in the fundamental character of world politics (notably, a decline in the centrality of the state in world politics). Some of these predictions were quite optimistic (esp. Liberals and Constructivists)— believing the changes will lead to more peace and cooperation; some were pessimists—predicting the emergence of new types of conflicts, while others (the realists) remained skeptic regarding the possible transformation (for better or worse) in the fundamental character of international politics, even if taking into account specific changes in the global distribution of capabilities as leading to some important changes in the dynamics of the international system—whether in the direction of a benign hegemon or balance of power politics. While none of these perspectives predicted accurately the nature of the international system, there is a differential application of the predictions of the competing approaches to different regions. Some regions seem to fit the optimistic expectations (Europe, South America), others fit the pessimists’ predictions (South Asia, Africa, Middle East), while still others might accord with realist expectations (East Asia and the post-Soviet). Some other regions went through a transition from fitting the pessimist line to resemble more closely the optimist approach (the Balkans). How could we explain the variations in the level of peace, order, institutionalization and cooperation in the various regions? I argue that the combined effect of two factors—state strength and national congruence– is the most important, although an additional factor can mitigate or aggravate their effects—great power intervention. The two key factors are state strength—the effectiveness of the functioning of state institutions; and national congruence—the extent of congruence between geo-political boundaries and national aspirations and identities in the region. Regions in which the states are strong and nationally coherent will tend to meet the optimists’ predictions. Regions in which at least some of the states are failed states – both weak and incongruent — will follow the pessimist predictions; while regions with strong states but incongruent will tend to produce a revisionist model. Finally, the instability prevalent in regions populated by failed states can sometimes be mitigated by the intervention of a benign hegemon, but in highly fragmented regions such interventions might face a lot of problems and have some de-stabilizing effects.
Benjamin Miller is Professor of International Relations at the School of Political Sciences, and the Head of the International MA Program in Peace and Conflict Management at the University of Haifa in Israel. He is also the President of the Israeli Association for International Studies. Dr. Miller was a tenured member of the department of International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a Visiting Professor at the Department of Political Science at Duke University in 2000-2002, and at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2007-2008. In the Fall of 2010 he was a research fellow at McGill University.
Among his publications are When Opponents Cooperate: Great Power Conflict and Collaboration in World Politics (Ann Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan Press, 2nd ed., 2002); and States, Nations and Great Powers: The Sources of Regional War and Peace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press-Cambridge Studies in International Relations, 2007). Dr. Miller’s first book explores the conditions under which the great powers are most likely to cooperate or to compete in times of crisis and in normal diplomacy. The second book focuses on the effects of nationalism and the great powers on regional variations in war and peace both among different regions (the Balkans, South America, Western Europe and the Middle East) and also over time in these regions, from the l9th century to the 21st century.
Dr. Miller has also published numerous articles on international relations theory and international and regional security, war and peace, democracy promotion, grand strategy, nationalism and conflict, sources of international cooperation and conflict, international and regional conflict management, great-power intervention and the effects of the great powers on regional security.
His current project focuses on explaining changes in US grand strategy since World War II and the beginning of the Cold War to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Dr. Miller’s key argument is that ideational competition on the best way to maximize national security is brokered by material/international forces. A partly related study focuses on the effects of the balance of threat on variations in great power management of regional war and peace. The empirical cases include the l973 Arab-Israeli War, the l991 Gulf war, the Peace Process, the 2003 Iraq War, and the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Another study examines the utility of competing peace strategies such as democratization and the effects of military defeats on revisionist states. The case-studies include the record in war and peace of Germany and Iraq during the 20th and 21st centuries.
Another study examines the competing expectations about the likely character of the post-Cold War Order, which analysts advanced with the end of the Cold War. Many expected a far-reaching transformation in the fundamental character of world politics. Some of these predictions were quite optimistic- believing the changes will lead to more peace and cooperation; some were pessimistic-predicting the emergence of new types of conflicts, while others remained skeptic regarding the possible transformation (for better or worse) in the fundamental character of international politics. While none of these perspectives predicted accurately the nature of the international system, Dr. Miller’s study will account for the differential application of the competing predictions to different regions.
Dr. Miller has also had some “practical” experience in war and peace: He fought in the l973 war on the Golan Heights in the famous Tel-Saki battle on which two recent books were published, and later graduated from the Cadet Course of the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and served as a member of the Israeli Delegation to the UN. Dr. Miller holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, and was a Research Fellow at Harvard University, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University.