Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Correlation between Asymmetric Conflicts and Polarity Are There More Insurgencies in Unipolar Systems? The Middle East 1948–1991
by Seider, Aaron, M.A., The George Washington University, 2009, 100; 1496560
Abstract (Summary)

The rise of insurgencies that the United States faces parallels a worldwide phenomenon. This rise, occurring since World War II, has been attributed to many factors; however, there have been few studies that have tried to understand this rise. This study is the outcome of the examination of two important and interrelated questions that have come to dominate much of the discourse, (1) why are there more insurgencies today and (2) will this pattern of more insurgencies continue into the future? While much has been published on the unipolar moment and asymmetric conflicts/ insurgencies, there is very little overlap. Despite the fact that the unipolar system has been considered a candidate as the leading contributor to the rash of insurgencies, there is a gap in research examining this link.

This study bridges that gap, first by examining the theory behind asymmetric conflicts and insurgency by reviewing the argument of six prominent insurgency and asymmetric conflict theorists: Kilcullen, Galula, Lind, Mack, Arreguin-Toft, and Rupert Smith. These authors write on the numerous topics including the fourth generation war, war amongst the people, and revolutionary war. This understanding of asymmetric conflicts is then crosswalked with the common understanding of system polarity and balance of power, which separates systems into three different structures: unipolar, bipolar, and multipolar. In order to apply these theories, the case study examines the Middle East, from 1948–1991, which covered fourteen different conflicts in all three polarities. The Middle East is a microcosm of the international system because of its active state system, nuclear weapons, and minimal superpower involvement.

This study reveals that, in periods of Middle East multipolarity and bipolarity, conflicts tend to be symmetric and conventional. More specifically, during periods of multipolarity and bipolarity, four out of five conflicts were symmetric. Conversely, in periods of Middle East unipolarity, four out of eight conflicts were asymmetric. These results demonstrate a clear link between asymmetric conflicts and unipolar systems.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lebovic, James H.
Commitee: Williams, Paul D.
School: The George Washington University
Department: International Affairs
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 50/01M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Middle Eastern Studies, International law
Keywords: Asymmetric conflict, Balance of power, Insurgency, Middle East, Unipolar system
Publication Number: 1496560
ISBN: 978-1-124-76155-8
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