some contrast to the past, however, economics suggests that the growth explosion is just beginning, that humanity has entered a new age of rapid economic growth, and that--whatever the political dimensions--the international political-economy is profoundly different from what it was. More pragmatic pundits of "policy science" offer a less sanguine view of increasing--if lower intensity--conflict, and economic stagnation in most of the world, despite rapid growth in a few dozen countries. For perhaps the first time in history, understanding the dynamics of a political-economic growth- conflict nexus may justifiably assume a priority on a level with those of identifying viable growth strategies and determining the fundamental causes of international conflicts.
The imponderables of the growth-conflict relationship go well beyond the vagaries of growth rates, elections or referenda, international incidents, battle casualties, and even commerce. They entail numbers and kinds of states involved, diverse ideas held in different societies about preferable outcomes and ways of achieving them, and the nature of the international system itself. The very richness of the relationship imposes a further layer of complexity involving myriad exogenous issues of power and influence, commerce and industry, understandings and beliefs about appropriate behaviors, expectations about reciprocities and responsibilities, and various notions of obligation or privilege. These sorts of issues have linkages to and among political, economic, commercial, and security issues, and extend into the future and the past through memories, expectations, and aspirations.
In the spirit of a hyphenated, cross-disciplinary political-economy, this investigation tries to converge two historically diverse intellectual traditions: conflict analysis and economic development theory. The former centers on efforts by political scientists to identify the origins of international conflict-- including, but not limited to, war. The latter focuses on economic growth. A putative relationship between international conflict and economic growth--its existence, nature, direction, and strength; how it affects and is affected by international relations--is the object of this inquiry.
The broad purpose is to move toward a political-economic theory of the dynamics between economic growth and international conflict. Such a theory would account for absence or presence of war, and of significant nonmilitary conflict, in conditions of sustained rapid economic growth- positive or negative (recession, depression)--and possibly in absence of growth --stagnation (see Appendix A). Of primary interest are not the "ultimate causes" of peace and war, or the "original engine" of growth. Rather, the study examines the possibility of promoting and sustaining growth without provoking conflict: of enjoying both peace and prosperity.