Explain a War

Attached files are the lecture slides.
Please follow the instructions:
(5 pages / 2000 words)
The first paper explains the outbreak of a war.

For paper one, explain why a war broke out. Pick any contemporary or historical conflict. It can be a war between states, an international intervention in a civil conflict, or an internal civil war. The outbreak of fighting, or a significant change in the fighting, is the thing you want to explain (i.e., your dependent variable [DV]). You must present two possible explanations.

The first must be an application of the bargaining model of war (i.e., Fearon, Biddle, Kydd & Walter)— you might explain why the war resulted from some kind of bargaining failure or coercive strategy, but be specific.
The second must be an explanation based in institutions, identities, personalities, domestic politics, or any other non-rationalist alternative—you might argue that your bargaining explanation left out something important.
Guidelines for short papers

These are analytical framing papers. They are not research papers. They are deliberately short to force you to focus on alternative explanations.

Reality is a complex interaction of many different factors, of course, but we must attempt to figure out how different factors shape political events. This is important because policy solutions attempt to shape or mitigate specific factors—we cannot change the system by fiat. The focus of each paper is the first part of that process: framing alternative explanations for what has happened or is happening. Your alternative explanations should each be plausible (avoid strawmen) yet, to the greatest extent possible, mutually exclusive (both cannot be true to the same degree). Put another way, there should be a genuine debate here. Historians argue about the causes of war, and policy analysts argue about the reasons for policy, because there are genuine arguments to be had in each case. The more specific you can be about the mechanisms and conditions that matter in your explanations, the better.

The focus in your paper is not on settling the debate between your alternatives, which would be a time-consuming research endeavour. Think of this as the set up for a longer project, or the charter for an investigating commission. You have neither the time nor space to research and fully evaluate your explanations with empirical evidence. You should, however, offer some comment on your working hypotheses about which seems more convincing.

You can customize your presentation as you see fit, but each paper should do the following:

State the title of your paper in the form of a question. Your paper will offer alternative answers to this question. For example:
Do entangling alliances explain the outbreak of World War I?
Did interservice rivalry cause Japan to choose war in 1941?
Why did the United States leave the nuclear deal with Iran?
Why does Canada have so few icebreakers?
Open with a one paragraph summary of your argument and conclusion. You probably want to rewrite this after you finish your essay to make sure you are able to cash the check you write in your introduction.
Be explicit about the event, choices, or state of the world that you are trying to explain, i.e., your “dependent variable” (DV). The more specific you are about your topic, the more specific you can be with your explanations for why it is what it is.
Develop at least two alternative explanations for the same thing, i.e., connect your IVs (independent variables) and CVs (conditioning variables) to your DV (dependent variable).
Discuss what kind of empirical evidence would enable you to argue for or against each explanation, e.g., if explanation A is true, then we expect to see evidence X; if we see evidence Y, then explanation B is less credible.
In the conclusion you can briefly argue for one explanation over the other based on the evidence that you find most persuasive. This is more of a hunch than a conclusion. You do not have the time or space to fully evaluate the alternatives. But you will probably develop a sense of which is more explanatory and why.
The word limit is 2000 words, including footnotes. You will have to be very concise. These are short papers on purpose. If it feels like you are over-simplifying a complex case, then you are moving in the right direction!
Here is some more guidance on format:

Please turn in your paper as a PDF document.
Please use double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font.
Please use reputable academic, journalistic, or government sources. Avoid Wikipedia.
Use Chicago style short cites, e.g., “Posen, Restraint, p. 1”—for anything on the syllabus. Use Chicago style full citations for the first cite of any other material, and then use short citations for subsequent mentions.
Please use footnotes rather than endnotes
You do not need to include a bibliography since you will be citing sources in footnotes.
On your title page please include your name, email, section (LEC0101 morning or LEC0102 afternoon), and word- count.
The word limit is indeed a word limit. Your reader may elect to stop reading beyond it. Your footnotes will be counted as part of the word count.
All papers must have a clear abstract, introductory paragraph, or executive summary that summarizes the argument. It is best to draft this when you start and then rewrite it when you finish your paper, since sometimes you figure out a new approach while writing.
Write in a clear and concise style (i.e., that your parents or school-aged relatives could understand). Minimize jargon. Organize your argument in a clear and logical sequence. Each section of your paper should have clear opening and concluding paragraphs, and all paragraphs should have clear opening and concluding sentence.
Papers will be marked by a TA. I recommend that you see me or a TA before writing your paper. It would be a good idea to come in with a short (1 pg max!) outline of your argument so we can help you frame your argument. After your paper is marked, if you have questions, please discuss your paper with your TA first. If you are still not satisfied for some reason, then come speak to me, but know that I will first ask if you have discussed your project with your TA.

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