Student response to the COW project Questions

Discussion Points

 

Students will submit a brief list of discussion questions and comments (3-5 in number) via Blackboard discussion. Note that your response papers should not summarize the text, but rather deliver a well-thought analysis of the assigned readings: that is, explain why you disagree with a given argument or assumption. Is the author missing anything? How convincing is the argument the author makes? You will be evaluated based on your understanding of the relevant readings and your ability to analyze and explain the arguments in the reading. You are required to submit 5 discussion points. These should be split up between starting your own thread on the weeks readings but also engaging in thoughtful discussion with the other students on Blackboard.

 

How it works

The intro question is posted by the professor then, students should respond to that specific question or other students’ replies.  The instructor might ask you to explain your point more deeply by posting a reply to your blog.

 

Example

 

Intro Question (week1)

What are some of the major aspects that are missing from the COW project in classifying wars in this quantitative way? Are there qualitative components that are missing in these classifications?

 

Is the COW porject in some biased in their classification to certain kinds of wars? Meaning does this project account for the cultural contexts in which wars take place?

 

Remember that these are questions to motivate discussion

 

A student response

The COW project aims to make an objective, statistical evaluation of wars to classify them into categories based on the dynamics of the conflicts, namely the magnitude in terms of death toll and the relationship between the different actors at play. Talking about war in this way makes it seem more like sport than tragedy. In terms of this project, the qualitative components of war are essentially missing in order to assume this objectivity. Page 29 reads:

 

“They emphasized that this was not in any way a moral judgement: ‘As our language should make very clear, we are not labeling any government as the ‘aggressor’ in these wars, or trying to reach a firm, data-based conclusion as to which participant ‘caused’ the war, whether by action, threat, or provocation’” (Sarkees 29)

 

This statement seems to sum up the core of their mission, however in the section beginning on page 18 “The Bulk of the Fighting” recognizes that classification can be distinguished if say, a state is using primarily bombs against another and taking few fatalities themselves. This seems to be leaning towards (or setting the stage for) a place of possible moral judgement, especially if, (and this would maybe most likely be the case) the bombings are also taking heavy civilian casualties, hitting the wrong targets, etc., or if the opposite actor is not making retaliation.

The reading makes it seem as if the COW is specifically avoiding cultural context in order make their assessments. That their purpose is to “capture this complexity through the concepts of internationalized wars and war transformations.”(Sarkees 24). While this may be true, but such an emotionless analysis of war as COW attempts to make may highlight its absurdity even more-so than traditional analysis. This is exemplified on page 22 when the reader is reminded that “fighting may be informally halted during a rainy season, only to resume when weather conditions improve.” (Sarkees 22) Might we just pretend it is raining all the time?

A reply to the student response from the instructor

But what are some of the benefits of this kind of micro-analysis of war then? Doesn’t this then mean that we have experts in the countries or regions that are able to really give us details about what is and isn’t a war in a specific context? Do we think there is any benefit to this?

 

 

 

The discussion is based on weekly readings provided by the instructor and the readings will be attached.  Also, I will send you the blogs from the discussion board so you are aware of other responses and you can choose which one to reply to.  I want a response for and the estimated length of my blog.  Make sure please you follow the instructions above about the discussion board blogs :).

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