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Tag Archives: Why We Fight

From street fights to world wars: What gang violence can teach us about conflict

Episode 65 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast explores why violence occurs from the local to the geopolitical level and how conflict can revert back to peace. Our guests today begin by asserting that peace—and not war—is the natural order of things for the human race. They then propose and identify five theoretical mechanisms that cause breakdowns in societies and discuss why different groups end up resorting to violence. Our guests then compare and contrast the characteristics of...

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When is War Justified?

Oct 24, 2022 12:00 pm 53:02 mins Most Americans have never fought in a war, or even had our lives disrupted by one. Does being so far removed from the loss and trauma make us more willing to send our military into battle? This is the first of two episodes we’re dedicating to thinking more deeply about the consequences of war. Rarely is going to war clearly the right or wrong choice. When is war justified? We're hoping that, by really embracing the nuance here, we'll...

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The 5 reasons wars happen

Whether it is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats of nuclear strikes or Chinese belligerence in the Taiwan Strait, the United States seems closer to a great power war than at any time in recent decades. But while the risks are real and the United States must prepare for each of these conflicts, by focusing on the times states fight—and ignoring the times they resolve their conflicts peacefully and prevent escalation—analysts and policymakers risk misjudging our rivals and...

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Advanced Master’s & PhDs

Why We Fight fits well as a unit within a graduate seminar on conflict, international relations, economic development, political economy, or comparative politics. 2–3 Week Unit For example, I teach conflict theory and empirics in 3–4 lectures of a longer seminar for economics PhD students called Political Economy of Development, with James Robinson (syllabus). I like to teach a mix of classic theory and very current (often unpublished) papers to give students a feel for both the canon and...

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Advanced Master’s & PhDs

I use Why We Fight in my undergrad international development class [syllabus], an intro-level course in an interdisciplinary major. Students love it, both the ideas and because the anecdotes gave them a sense of how development work and research are conducted. I’ve enjoyed it a lot myself. —Penn State sociologist Brian Thede Graduate students and scholars will benefit from the way that Blattman organizes a vast literature. I would wholeheartedly recommend this as *the* book for those...

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Undergrad & Master’s

Why We Fight can work as a short unit on conflict within a longer class on economic development, international relations, political economy, comparative politics, or conflict studies. Here are some ideas and resources to do so. 1 week Unit I’d recommend having students engage with Part I of the book only, especially chapters 1–5. This will give them a good overview of the causes of  war literature. You could use a selection of the slides below to walk students through the strategic...

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High school

For high school students who are encountering a complex topic for the first time, clarity is incredibly important. That’s why I tried to make Why We Fight as simple and accessible and story-driven as possible. I plan to develop more high school materials, and would love to hear from teachers. I met with Matt Cone and his class at Carrboro High School in Carrboro, North Carolina, and here were some suggestions from Matt and his students. Ask students to videotape themselves answering basic...

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