Author Biography

Joshua Hastey, PhD
Assistant Professor, Regent University
Adjunct Professor of Strategy, US Naval War College

Adam Knight, PhD
Visiting Instructor, Notre Dame of Maryland University



Subject Area Keywords

Conflict studies, International relations, International security, Strategy, War studies


Interstate war has been on the decline since the end of the Second World War. After the Cold War ended without a grand conflagration, civil conflicts and the war on terrorism have appeared to displace interstate war as the most pressing loci of security studies. Interstate aggression has become untenable, some have argued. Cooperative grievance resolution and the powerful incentives of economic interdependence have produced a decline in the outbreak of war. Revered scholars of international security have even asked whether we should bother studying the phenomenon anymore. Intrastate conflicts, it seems, are the order of the day. We argue that the contraction of interstate war is more a function of the weight we have accorded 20th century warfare in our conceptualization of interstate war than a real decrease in states’ willingness to employ force to achieve foreign policy ends. A broader approach to interstate war is needed to capture a more consistent conceptualization of the phenomenon. We suggest a framework under which gray zone strategies represent not an emergent phenomenon but a longstanding set of tools within the broader phenomenon of interstate conflict.


The authors would like to thank Bradley Smith for his invaluable feedback on an earlier draft of this paper and two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions, which helped us further refine the manuscript.