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27 J. Conflict Resol. 3 (1983)

handle is hein.journals/jcfltr27 and id is 1 raw text is: 









The Buffer System in

International Relations



MICHAEL GREENFIELD PARTEM
Law  School
Hebrew  University of Jerusalem



   Although the term buffer state is widely employed, it has received little scholarly
treatment. This article investigates the buffer state and buffer system, using both expected
utility theory and four case studies: Afghanistan (1870-1978), Cambodia (1954-1971),
Lebanon (1943-1981), and Belgium (1831-1945). A definition is put forward stating what
conditions of geography, capability distribution, and foreign policy orientations must be
present for the system to be a buffer system. This definition has clear behavioral
consequences for the larger powers in the system and the buffer state. One derivation from
the definition is that multilateral declarations of neutrality and partition are phenomena
related to each other and to the existence of buffer conditions. Another derivation is that the
buffer state's diplomatic options are severely constrained -with neutrality the most likely
policy. Clearly, the proposed definition gives us a better understanding of conflict and
conflict resolution in a buffer system.




  This  article explores the role of buffer state and buffer system in a
more   rigorous manner   than has  previously been  attempted.  Concepts
will be defined and theory  will be developed along with  an examination
of four case studies: Afghanistan  (1870-1978), Cambodia   (1954-1971)-
now   Campuchea, Lebanon (1943-1981), and Belgium (1831-1945). The
principal methodological   tool used in the study of buffer system conflict
and  conflict resolution  will be expected  utility theory, specifically as
employed by Bueno de Mesquita (1981). It will be shown that
empirically  verifiable conditions  determine  the  existence of a  buffer
system.  Moreover,   the logic of a  buffer system  brings with it certain
behavioral   patterns and  constraints that can  best be understood   in a
buffer context  and that are exhibited to a greater or lesser degree in each
of the four  case studies.
   While  buffer  state has been  the commonly used term, it is more
 useful to speak of a buffer system. A buffer state exists as a buffer state
 because of the larger powers in the system. Using the concepts employed

 JOURNAL  OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION,  Vol. 27 No, 1, March 1983 3-26
 @ 1983 Sage Publications. Inc.
 0022-0027 831010003-24S2 65
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from the SAGE Social Science Collections. All Rights Reserved.

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