Balance of Power

A condition whereby the distribution of military and political forces among nations takes on a state of equilibrium. It may be global or regional in scope, but in all cases, it is in states’ interest to maintain this condition as it is largely viewed as the safest strategic configuration of the international and/or regional system – Particularly under bi-polarity (when two states balance each other). Other configurations include a uni-polar system (wherein other states are likely to gang up on the single great power) or a multi-polar system (whereby three or more great powers balance each other). This latter configuration is considered to be the least stable.   See also: kenneth waltz | neorealism | structural realism

Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement – parties in conflict can exercise their BATNA by credibly threatening to implement a less than optimal policy option in the face of negotiations that are not going their way. This allows them to gain some control of the situation thereby gaining the opportunity to find alternative options to achieve their goals. From a mediation standpoint, it is best to avoid reaching a point where one party chooses to exercise their BATNA because once a party leaves the negotiation table there is a risk of increased violence breaking out.

Diplomatic (or other) efforts to bring about the easing of tensions. An abatement of hostilities, but not an end to the conflict.

The Fallacy of Sunk-in Costs – A  condition whereby a constituent to a conflict continues to invest in a failing policy/strategy because of the time, resources, and public support already invested in that policy/strategy.

Preponderance of Power – A dominant world or regional power that sets the rules for, and mostly pays the cost to support, the organizational mechanisms, accepted norms, and distribution of public goods throughout the international system or region.   noun: Hegemon  |  adj. Hegemonic  |  adj. Hegemony (something possessed)

Middle East and North Africa – A region stretching from Morocco to Turkey including Iran, the Arabian Peninsula, and the northern states of Africa.  The region is inhabited by a diverse set of ancient cultures and religions including Whabihists, Sunnis, Shias, Ottomans. Jews, Arabs, and many more.

PeaceThe condition of peace can exist at varying levels. In most cases it is more than a mere absence of violence between contending parties. Peace can also be measured in terms of cooperation and collaboration. The following is a categorization of its most prominent forms:  

Cold Peace – A relationship characterized by formal agreements between conflicting parties and the maintenance of diplomatic relations between them whereby the underlying issues of conflict are in the process of being moderated or reduced but still far from being completely resolved. In this situation, armed conflict is unlikely but possible if changes in the international system occur or parties reach an impasse. It is probable that the parties have developed contingency plans for war and have prepared for such a possibility. An example of Cold Peace would be the relations between Israel and Egypt.

Normal Peace – This is the situation we generally think of when we consider relations among states in general. Here, the likelihood of war is considerably lower than that of a Cold Peace. Most, if not all, substantive issues have been resolved and the sovereignty of each party is recognized. Emphasis is on the shared management of the strategic-political environment.

Warm Peace – Under the condition of Warm Peace, relations among ideologically aligned parties are focused on cooperation and the working towards common objectives through shared information and coordinated activates. While conflict is still possible, there is a very low likelihood it would escalate into armed conflict. Examples include US relations with the United Kingdom and Israel.

High-Level Peace -A situation characterized by a shared expectation that the parties will not resort to violence in the foreseeable future under and circumstance; including regime change or a change in the structural (international) setting. There exist no contingency planning and no preparations for war. Institutionalized non-violent procedures for dealing with and resolving conflicts are widely accepted. Parties agree on common social problems and work cooperatively through shared institutions and widespread cultural exchanges to address these. Cooperation is at such a high degree that there may exist exceptional shared military, economic, and intelligence coordination – up to the point just short of shared sovereignty. Examples include relations among Scandinavian countries or US-Canadian relations.

Res Communis
Territory that belongs to the common heritage of mankind.The term refers to territories that are under the jurisdiction of no state. The sovereignty of the said territories are considered to belong to all mankind. Examples include the high seas, outer space, Antarctica, and other internationally recognized zones.

A policy of seeking to recover territories lost in a previous round of conflict.
noun. Revanchism |  adj. Revanchist (i.e. a revanchist state)

A person or entity that takes measures to derail peace processes when negotiations are not going as hoped for or the party has not even been invited to the negotiation table.

War – Wars can be conducted through a variety of means, including but not limited to military confrontation, political influence, economic sanctions, and via electronic communications. Wars also vary in their level of intensity and form. The following is a categorization of its most prominent forms:

Hot War – The actual use of force with the intention of imposing costs on one’s opponent(s).

Cold War – Also known as a situation of negative peace. There is an absence of hot war but the potential for the outbreak of violence is ever-present. Cold wars are beleaguered by recurrent political and military crises that could inadvertently lead to escalation. Parties to a cold war situation thus focus on conflict management but do little to address the underlying conditions which led to conflict in the first place.

Civil War – Armed conflict which takes place within a single state usually over control of the apparatus of government or as a means to secede from that state.

Proxy War – Wars fought by outside powers (usually great powers) through proxies armies in territory not controlled by the outside power. The idea behind proxy wars is that direct confrontation between the outside powers could result in dangerous escalations – particularly in the nuclear age – and thus the outsiders attempt to achieve their objectives through proxies. Examples include Soviet support for North Vietnam during the Vietnam War and US support for Afgan mujahadeen in the late 1980s. More recent proxy wars can be witnessed in Yemen with Iran and Saudi Arabia taking sides and Iran’s use of its Revolutionary Guards and groups like Hezbollah to carry out attacks on its foes without taking direct responsibility.