Kristian Skrede Gleditsch


All International Politics is Local is perhaps the first political science book to consider the effect of spatial dynamics on militarized conflict, integration, and democratization using recent developments in spatial statistics. Gleditsch ties together traditional explanations and theories of world politics with contemporary theories of spatial dynamics. His creative use of spatial statistics to evaluate hypotheses about spatial dynamics is innovative and a recurring theme through the book. In addition, Gleditsch’s careful attention to characteristics of data on world politics make this book a valuable resource for quantitative researchers.

Gleditsch argues that interdependence among states in a common region and variation in regional characteristics is an often overlooked yet central component to world politics. As a result of such spatial dependence the author anticipates variation in international interactions to be shaped by the context of the interactions. Likewise international interactions are expected to shape the spatial characteristics of the interactions themselves. Gleditsch shows that by more carefully considering the spatial context of international interactions it is possible to better understand existing world politics theory. Moreover, through the use of spatial statistics, Gleditsch offers clarification of some inconsistencies in existing empirical world politics research.

Overall, I think this is a remarkable book and I appreciate the many contributions All International Politics is Local makes to the scientific study of world politics. The discussion of the disconnect between world politics data and theory is refreshing. Increasingly scholars are more careful to consider the consequences of nonrandom measurement error in variables such as international conflict and democracy. Gleditsch is especially sensitive to this issue and makes an effective argument for more a more careful consideration of how the notion of international conflict is operationalized. Moreover, Gleditsch’s ground breaking use of spatial statistics makes this book required reading for world politics researchers and the book should make its way into many graduate courses. However, one does begin to wonder what future research this book suggests. Much of the analysis focuses on evaluating existing world politics theory with special attention paid to spatial dependence and the context in which interactions play out. It is not completely clear how spatial dynamics might be used to refine or generate world politics theory and arguments about international interactions. It seems that the empirical significance of regional interdependence suggests that more useful theories of world politics might be developed with the spatial context in mind and in fact use spatial variation to identify the theoretical argument. Such research, if plausible, is certainly beyond the scope of Gleditsch’s book. Yet, his analysis may point several scholars in this direction.

Incorporating the spatial context and dynamics into existing theories of world politics has significant merit and All International Politics is Local is an elegant example of this integration. Careful attention to the spatial context of international interactions is important and should continue to develop. However, it is important to consider the broader effect of spatial context on the development and refinement of world politics theory.

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