Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Influence of Religion on Armed Conflict Onset
by Brown, Davis Lemay, II, Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2012, 647; 3514641
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the effect of religion on the use of military force by states against other states. Despite a growing body of literature on religion and/in international relations, the topic remains under-studied and under-theorized; most of the literature focuses either on conflict associated with religious differences, or on religious identity or culture as a driver for civil and other non-state wars. In contrast, I treat religion as an effect on the ideological characteristics of a state, and argue that religious ideas influence the outcomes of war and peace. I argue that religion wields its effect through three media: religious scripture, the priesthood (or more precisely, the writings of the priesthood), and historical narrative. Through these media, each religion generates a war ethic that influences the decisions of states to use military force or not.

I measure that influence through a series of variables which capture the religious identities of chief executives of states, the preference for a particular religious category held by governing regimes of states, and the religious demographics of the citizenries of states. Having done this, and having controlled for the other conventional factors, I find that (1) religion does influence a state's propensity to use force against other states, and (2) different religions have different effects. I find that Christian states are less likely to initiate interstate armed conflicts than non-Christian states, Muslim states are more likely than non-Muslim states, and Buddhist states are no more or less likely than non-Buddhist states. In other words, Christianity has a negative effect on a state’s propensity to use force, Islam a positive effect, and Buddhism no effect.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Owen, John
Commitee:
School: University of Virginia
School Location: United States -- Virginia
Source: DAI-A 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Religion, International Relations, International law
Keywords: Armed conflicts, Christianity, Islam, Military force, Religious identities
Publication Number: 3514641
ISBN: 9781267369482
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