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Theorizing Territorial Withdrawal: The Need to Think Strategically

Pinfold, Rob Geist; Smith, M.L.R.


M.L.R. Smith


This article examines what factors cause states to withdraw from foreign territorial interventions. Scholarly analyses of withdrawal are rare, whilst within the broader research area of territorial conflict, studies are often dichotomized into neorealist or constructivist-inspired works, emphasizing a select few variables and one level of analysis alone. We argue these excessive simplifications of international politics lack utility for understanding territorial withdrawal. Instead, we employ the principles of strategic theory informed by a Clausewitzian paradigm, and construct a framework of three “arenas of bargaining,” spanning multiple variable-types and levels of analysis, to explain territorial withdrawal. In so doing, the analysis delineates a comprehensible and novel theoretical framework for understanding an under-researched policy problem.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 2, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 9, 2019
Publication Date 2019
Deposit Date Dec 23, 2022
Journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism
Print ISSN 1057-610X
Electronic ISSN 1521-0731
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Volume 45
Issue 4
Public URL