The Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies presents:

Optimists, Pessimists or Skeptics:
Explaining Variations in Post-Cold War
War and Peace (Forthcoming,
Oxford University Press)


Benjamin Miller, Professor of International Relations, School of Political Sciences,
University of Haifa

Moderated by Jack Snyder, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Relations,
Political Science Department, Columbia University

Friday, December 9, 2022
Online Event

 Open to the public, advance registration required.

Register here.


About the Book

Following the end of the Cold War, analysts advanced competing expectations about the
likely character of the new era. Many expected a transformation in the fundamental character
of world politics. Some of these predictions were quite optimistic (especially 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 skeptical regarding the possible transformation in the
character of international politics.

While none of these perspectives accurately predicted the nature of the international
system, there is a differential application of the predictions of the competing approaches
to different regions. Some regions 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; 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 in the
various regions? Miller argues that the combined effect of two factors—state strength and national congruence– is the most important, although great-power intervention can
mitigate or aggravate their effects.

Author Biography

Benjamin Miller is the Director of the National Security Center and  Professor of International Relations at the School of Political Sciences at the University of Haifa. During 2021-22, he was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. Miller was the recipient of the Provost Prize for a Distinguished Senior Researcher for 2020.

Miller’s most recent book focuses on explaining changes in US grand strategy, entitled: Grand Strategy from Truman to Trump (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020). His forthcoming book project focuses on explaining war and peace in the 21st century (under contract with Oxford University Press). He is the author of many other publications, including: When Opponents Cooperate: Great Power Conflict and Collaboration in World Politics (Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2nd ed., 2002); States, Nations and Great Powers: The Sources of Regional War and Peace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007); Regional Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution (Routledge, 2015; co-edited with Carmela Lutmar; the volume is based on Miller’s theory); and International and Regional Security: The Sources of War and Peace – a collection of Miller’s essays over the years and also new research (Routledge, 2017).

Miller received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and has held Research Fellowships at Harvard University, MIT, Princeton University (Center for International Studies), McGill University, and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS). He has taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Duke University, the University of Colorado, Boulder, Princeton University, and Dartmouth College. He also served for many years as the President of the Israeli Association for International Studies (IAIS).