Writing Armageddon

Writing Armageddon
Furious writing or writing furiously?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Syria-Turkey: A Dangerous Dyad

Syria-Turkey: A Dangerous Dyad
Konstantinos Travlos, PhD

Turkish artillery on the Syria border. Source: http://www.aljazeera.com/mritems/Images/2016/2/14/cc6d643a6b0649d2b166f9848cb26d9c_18.jpg

The recent militarized interstate dispute between Syria andTurkey , as well as the ongoing opposition between President Rejep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria, has raised questions of how likely are we to see an escalation. Turkish troops are present in Syria, and Turkey together with Saudi Arabia are among the most important supporters of the Syrian anti-regime forces.  To get a handle on that question I will once more use the Steps to War framework developed by Paul Senese and John A. Vasquez to evaluate the presence of conflict fostering factors in the Syria-Turkey dyad. This is similar to previous analyses on the Azerbaijan-Armenia dyad, and the Russia-Turkey dyad conducted by the contributor.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Conference Announcement

We invite proposals for the Sixth Eurasian Peace Science Conference which will take place on to March 17-18,2017 at Özyeğin University in Istanbul, Turkey. The Conference's goals are to broaden cooperation among Eurasian and Middle Eastern peace science scholars, encourage interaction with the worldwide peace science community, and bring together research on conflict and peace-related topics from throughout the world.

All aspects of the peace science field are welcome, including: (a) empirical and theoretical analyses of peace, political violence and peaceful resolution, (b) dataset presentations on conflict and peace-related topics, (c) economic and political causes and consequences of international and domestic violence encompassing war, ethnic conflict, and terrorism, (d) contemporary regional conflicts in Eurasia and Middle East, (e) security and foreign policy, (f) conflict analysis, management, and resolution, and (g) macro and micro level studies of conflict.
All submissions before December 31st, 2016 will be considered for the conference. Proposals after that date will only be considered if there are presentation slots available. Graduate students are particularly encouraged to apply.

Accommodations for childcare are available.

To submit a proposal please send a 200 word abstract and title to konstantinos.travlos@ozyegin.edu.tr
Department of International Relations, Özyeğin University

Ali Fisunoglu & Konstantinos Travlos (Coordinators)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Managerial norms, Peace and the onset of Types of Wars

Managerial norms, Peace and the onset of Types of Wars (a brief look)
by Konstantinos Travlos


The First Hague Peace Conference, 1899

Recently I have been reading a lot on the Congress of Vienna. This is for the next article I am working on, on the theme of the causes and consequences of interstate managerial coordination (for the earlier foundations of this concept see Travlos 2014 ). My ideas on this were partly influenced by Peter Wallensteen's early work on universalism and particularism (Wallensteen 1984). In my exploration of those ideas I came face to face with the argument that any inter-state peace built on managerial coordination will have the price of increased warfare of other types, mainly wars between states and polities that are not recognized as states, wars within states, and war between non-state polities. The logic behind this position is that thanks to inter-state peace a) states are more able to engage in aggression against non-states, or interfere in non-state interrelations b) states are more likely to intervene in other states during their civil wars, rather than dealing with the results of the wars on the inter-state level.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Contributor Publication: K.Travlos "Islands in a Sea of Fog"

I have been lucky and Uluslararasi Iliskiler- International Relations has published in Volume 13, Issue 50, my article “Islands in a Sea of Fog: A Rapid Evidence Assessment of Quantitative Research in the pre-1816 Period”. You can find the abstract at

A bit about the article

This article is part of my preparatory work for the next stage the 1715-1815 Militarized Interstate Dispute Project I am working on with others (see http://ktravlospolisci.blogspot.com.tr/p/research-ii.html and http://hdl.handle.net/2142/46760 ) . The goal was to conduct an overview of the field of quantitative studies that focus on temporal domains that include periods before 1815.  It was an exercise in locating existing datasets (of which there were many more than I initially thought there would be), becoming aware of synergies, looking at the types of articles that got published using pre-1815 data, and locating gaps. Suffice to say that there is a lot of data out there that can be linked to the 1715-1815 MID Project and provide enough variables to sustain quantitative analysis.  Beyond that some of the articles surveyed were very interesting on their own.

 During the review process it became evident that I would need something more than an overview, so I decided to also conduct a REA using data extracted from the articles, in order to ascertain how often they noted differences in behavior between the pre and post-1815 period. The findings in general did not support an expectation of difference. In another name studies that focus on the past were more likely to not find important differences with the present, making their findings relevant for the discussion of current issues. This finding of course challenges the “presentism” dominance in the study of conflict. That said I would caution that a more sophisticated meta-analysis might be required to resolve the question of relevance.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A potential unanticipated result of the failed coup

Anyone who has been watching politics in Turkey in the last two years, if not longer, would be stunned by the monumental inefficacy of the opposition parties. Introvert, infighting - it has pretty much let the government make all the changes it seeks. The excuse it presented was the deep ideological divides of Kemalist Turkey. The real excuse was the fact that it could rely on the army to make the crucial political choices. This is why the Kemalist parties never succeeded in winning Anatolia for 50+ years. Because they always expected the army to save them from the majority. Perhaps this is the greatest pernicious effect of politics dominated by extra-institutional actors. The infantilization of politics. Like a spoiled kid whose parents are always there to save it from its mistakes, parties that can rely on the army (or something else) to save them from defeat can never learn or adapt to win democratic politics. By their weakness they aid and abet authoritarianism by not providing credible alternatives to the challengers.

This is what the opposition in Turkey had become. If one watched the antics of the last two years, one would assume that these parties were not faced by an existential threat. And in their eyes they were not because they had the “save button” of the army. Well last weekend that is over. The Turkish military is done for as a political institution in Turkey. The era of infantilization is over. There are no more excuses for amateurism. They must become political adults. They are now central players in the game of thrones. And they will either learn to play or die. A new era for democratic politics in Turkey has arisen. Whether this will lead to a regime closer to illiberalism or closer to liberalism is now a question of politics.  But the politics of the Kemalist Republic, with it Army Daddy, are over.

-Guest author

Monday, July 18, 2016

Some Facts on Coups

Some Facts on Coups
by Konstantinos Travlos

With the failed coup d’etat attempt in Turkey, there is a lot of analysis going on, but little of it is of social scientific value. Already voices talk of an “orchestrated” coup citing both its failure and seemingly amateur character (for an example see here . In general the American neo-conservatives are lamenting the failure of thecoup ). But let us look at some facts.

1) Coups Fail more than they Succeed. Using the Center for Systemic Peace (known for the important Polity Dataset) COUP D’ÉTAT EVENTS, 1946-2014 Dataset we can discern a basic truth. Of 841 coup and potential coup observations in the 1946-2014 period,  549 are certain coup attempts. Of those 549 cases, 40% succeeded (224) and 60% failed (325). That means that on average the likelihood of a coup succeeding is less than 50% of the time. Coups tend to fail, and while we tend to remember the successes, it is good to keep in mind that brutal fact. While we do not have coup data in the 19th century, my anecdotal evidence leads me to hypothesize a similar ratio, if not worse for success.

Greek officers, members of the failed 1935 coup, being publicly stripped of their military ranks.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

My failed coup experience (using my facebook logs)

My failed coup experience (using my facebook logs)

I have now lived through a failed coup attempt in Istanbul. In the interest of posterity I am making available the sequence of events as I lived them, based on my Facebook account activity. I live in the Acibadem-Hasanpasha Area on the Asian Side. I am safe.

10:30-11:00 I am watching Borgen S3E1. I get a message from a friend in Greece asking me if I am well. Friend tells me a coup is being attempted

11:00-11:10 I hear the rumbling of what can only be tanks or APCs. I run out. People are congregating. I cannot see the military vehicles, but I can hear them. The people are agitated and when I ask asker? Some of them nob. I go back inside.

11:10-11:30 I call my parents in Greece to make sure to tell them I am safe. I open up the VPN to retain internet access and begin interacting with other friends in turkey to learn news

12:00-12:30 I learn the a curfew has been declared by the coup members. I can still hear cars running. Sporadic honking also, an indicator of support for the government

1:00 Friends report to me that many generals have declared their loyalty to the government (after the fact I learn that it is the most important officer in Istanbul, the commander of the 1st Army). Also that people are congregating at the airport to welcome the President

1:25 I log in to report heavy rifle fire in the area.

1:33 Prayers are called from the Mosques. Political message as well. Mosques are blaring at full volume. I discern the word asker.

1:35 Multiple indicators in the area that the curfew is definitely not obeyed.

1:38 I can faintly hear massive crowds

2:05 I can still hear sporadic gun-fire. But not sure if it is a battle like at 1:25 or celebratory.

2:58 I attempt to go to sleep but I am awakened by a fighter jet either breaking the sound barrier or dropping sonic bombs.

3:20 Lengthy text message received on the phone from the President.

3:38-3:41 Fighters still flying over area.

4:05 Demonstration Continue as I can hear the chants and honking. I can hear helicopters.

4:13-4:23 Last call of prayers from the mosques. Very long announcement follows.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Brexit and "1915"

The Brexit and “1915”

by Konstantinos Travlos

I recently finished reading “1915” by Yeorgios Mavrogordatos, in Greek. This is a new history and analysis of the period of Greek History known as the “National Schism”. During this period the Greek body politic was divided into opposed camps set up around two charismatic, in the Weberian sense according to Mavrogordatos, personalities, Prime Minister Eleutherios Venizelos and King Constantine I. I have been thinking about how to put down reactions to the book in a way that has an impact to current event and the Brexit has given me a perfect opportunity.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Some thoughts in reaction to reading Fuat Dundar's book "Μοdern Türkiye'nin şifresi" (Greek Edition)

Reactions to Fuat Dundar’s “Modern Turkeys Secret Code”(Greek Edition)

The ideal Ottoman State for the CUP

I read this very interesting and important book in Greek. There is no English translation available which is a pity, as the book is very worthwhile for discussing what happened not just in the Armenian Genocide, but generally in the Balkans and Anatolia in the 1880-1922 period.

Poster for the 6th Eurasian Peace Science

You can find the poster for the 6th Eurasian Peace Science Conference at the following link
Eurasian Peace Science Conference 2016

You can find the program at the Ozyegin Univerity Page that is specifically set up for the event.

If you are in Istanbul on 22nd July 2016, feel free to join us.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Foreign Policy Implications of Kazakh Protests - Part I

Kazakhstan has just experienced a wave of protests relating to deeply unpopular land reforms. Whether correctly or not, many Kazakhs assume that these reforms will lead to an influx of Chinese farmers into their sparsely populated country. Promises to the contrary and a delay in the implementation of the land reform has not convinced the nationalist public. The authoritarianism and corruption of the Kazakh regime also made it more difficult for the Kazakh government to sell its official story to the public.

The main impact of the protests is likely to be in the domestic sphere, particularly in government-civil society relations. That is not, however, the topic that will be addressed here. Instead, I will focus on the effect these protests are likely to have on the foreign policy of Kazakhstan. In short, these protests will dampen ties between Astana and Beijing, raise Washington's costs of engagement with Astana, and push the latter even more firmly into Moscow's orbit. These outcomes are not foreordained, but it would take unprecedented skill in Kazakh diplomacy and moderate attempts at democratization for other options to become available.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Why no War? The Armenian-Azerbaijan Conflict as an example of the rarity of war

The recent April increase in military violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nargono-Karabakh is an excellent opportunity to show how hard it actually is for an interstate war to happen. While the debate onthe decrease on violence rages on, we must not forget that at its baseline interstate war is a rare phenomenon.

In many ways the Armenian-Azerbaijan case is the perfect example of Stuart Bremer’s dangerous dyads, those pairs of states most likely to fight a war. In a previous post I used the Steps to War schema to gauge the low likelihood of the Russo-TurkishMID in November 2015. We can use the same schema as a way to show how much more likely Armenia and Azerbaijan are to fight a war.

Armenian armed militia's from 1920s Nargono-Karabakh. This conflict goes way back.

First a reminder of the factors that foster or inhibit the likelihood of a MID  escalating to war according to the research in Steps to War.

Effect of Factors on Likelihood of MID escalation to War
Territorial Dispute
Not Increase
Not Increase
Not Increase
Enduring Rivalry
Mutual Military Buildups(Arms Races)
Increase (especially for Territorial Disputes)
Common Alliance
No effect
No effect
Slight Increase
Different Alliance
Prior MIDs

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Old Ideas: A Note on Periodisation in Conflict Studies

(This is from an old exchange I had with Peter Wallensteen, unfortunately I do not have access to his answer. Pretty much a discussion on whether periodisation in conflict studies creates a selection bias.)

Or conflict studies for that matter? Good Question.

I would argue that when we periodisize the temporal domain of our theories we are essentially including another variable in our models. This is because periodization is always done on the basis of some variable and the values it takes. Thus a lot of the concerns that come with including variables in a model also apply to including periods. First of all one must choose which variable out off many possible is going to be the criterion on which periods will be demarcated. The choice of demarcation is crucial for not all possible demarcations are mutually inclusive or mutually exclusive. The first case, of mutually inclusive demarcations, can create ambiguity of results, while the second, of mutual exclusive demarcations, can lead to the muting of the effect of some important variable X that our demarcation variable leaves out.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Canvassing my social circle on Civil War

One of the most deleterious effects of living in a country going through a violent political conflict is the fear that one can feel that they are a minority of pacifists in society of fightaholics. The fact that the loudest voices in social and mass media tend to be the ones preaching violence or expecting violence does not help. With the recent bombings in Turkey and Europe, as well as the acrimonious political debates in the US I did feel a bit isolated. Partly as a coping exercise, and partly out of curiosity  I decided to canvass my social circle on two questions:

1)A Civil War, despite the devastation and death that would accompany it, would be a good thing for my country in the long term.

2)A Civil War is likely in my country in the next decade.

3) My country is

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Women and Peace: Reasons for hope, and a worrying logical conundrum

Women and Peace: Reasons for hope, and a worrying logical conundrum
By Konstantinos Travlos

There are many studies that have provided indicators that the enchanted participation of women in peace processes and in indeed in politics can be a force for peace, and indeed for quality peace. Work by Mary Caprioli , Caprioli and Mark Boyer , and by Erik Melander . The findings of these, and other studies your poor author has failed to mention are encouraging and something to add to the 10 Things you can Learn in International Women’s day . Even with the usual caveats on quantitative analyses of social phenomena, the least we can garner is that peace and quality peace are contemporaneous or closely associated in time with the active participation of women in political processes. Even such a minimalist findings is a powerful beacon of hope for many caught in the fires of conflict, and a strong confirmation of the beliefs of many feminists, men or women or other.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Large scale warfare outside Europe in the 1715-1789 period according to Langer.

An overview of large scale warfare outside Europe in the 1715-1789 period according to Langer.
By Konstantinos Travlos

"Those of you who have been following my research (all two of you), know that I am engaged in major data project whose goal is to create a Militarized Dispute (MIDs) Dataset for the 1715-1815 period. My initial forays into this en-devour where more ecumenical with a goal of creating a dataset of wars between polities in the 1715-1815 period on a global level. In the end I decided to put off non-european polities for the future and only focus on the European interstate system as a first step. This was driven primarily by the richer documentation available for Europe in the 1715-1815 period, and the great likelihood of finding non-war MIDs in sources on Europe as opposed to sources on the rest of the world. That said future plans do include a war data-set among polities in the rest of the world for the era. Cleaning up my file folders I found this little piece I had written based on my early explorations. I am putting here for the sake of scholarly curiosity."

The Thai and the Burmese fight 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Using game theory to determine who will replace Scalia

The sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia - a strict constructionist appointed by Reagan in 1986 - less than a year before a presidential election sent the political world into a tailspin. Ted Cruz, one of the leading Republican candidates for president threw down the gauntlet by calling on the Senate to not confirm any new justice before a new president is elected. President Obama took up the gauntlet by arguing that it is his responsibility to appoint a new justice before his term ends. The death of Justice Scalia became a key topic in the Republican primary debate that took place hours after his death. Thus, in only a few hours the focus of American politics switched from whether it is a good idea to carpet bomb Syria or how to get Mexico to pay for a wall on its border with the US to whether there will be a new supreme court justice before the end of President Obama's presidency.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Two interesting blog pieces

Going over my usual round of poli-sci/ir blogs (RelationsInternational, Duck of Minerva, Monkey Cage) I stumbled on two very interesting pieces.

Toal and O'Loughlin discuss some fascinating data they have from surveys conducted in Bosnia-Hezergovina for the 20 year anniversary of the Dayton accords.


Two things come out of it: 1) The Dayton accords may in the end be the greatest achievement of period of US primacy following the end of the Cold War 2) The Bosnian political system may in the end survive for the same reason the French Third Republic survived. It is the systems that divides the citizens of the country the least.

In the Duck of Minerva, Josh Busby takes on Walt's problematic polemic that Realists are marginalized in academia and the policy world, with a very interesting twist


Worth a read.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Excerpt from Research Project: Datasets focusing on temporal domains before 1815.

As part of a Rapid Evidence Assessment Project I am conducting (waiting professional editing to be sent out for review) I collected in one point information on all the conflict-political science Data-sets containing data that extends before 1815. A pared down version of this collection can be found in the a table below. The REA was produced by looking at articles from three quantitative friendly international relations conflict journals between 1970 and 2014. This might be a useful resource for scholars wondering what data is out there that looks to the past. For more information you will have to wait for the published article.