Where Have all the Victories Gone? Peacekeeping and War Outcomes

55 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 1 Oct 2009

Virginia Page Fortna

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

This paper documents and proposes an explanation for a puzzling empirical trend: the number of wars ending in a draw, rather than with a victory for one side, has increased markedly over time. This change in war outcomes occurs for interstate wars after WWII, and for civil wars after the end of the Cold War. I argue that this change, and its timing in the two types of war can best be explained by the development of peacekeeping. For war to end in a draw, two conditions must hold: neither side is able to defeat the other outright, and the belligerents can agree to stop fighting rather than continuing the war in the hope of eventual victory. Using this framework, I outline and test a number of possible explanations for the shift in outcomes. I rule out a number of alternative explanations, including the offense-defense balance, patterns of intervention, terrain, population growth, and issue salience. Only the peacekeeping argument can explain the change in both civil and interstate wars.

Keywords: war outcomes, war termination, peacekeeping

Suggested Citation

Fortna, Virginia Page, Where Have all the Victories Gone? Peacekeeping and War Outcomes (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1450558

Virginia Page Fortna (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

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