Offense-defense theory: An empirical assessment

Yoav Gortzak, Yoram Z. Haftel, Kevin Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Proponents of offense-defense theory (ODT) contend that the offense-defense balance (ODB) forms the "master key" to understanding the question of peace and war. Time-series event count models of war and militarized interstate disputes at the systemic level are used to test the theory's claims that shifts in the ODB have an important effect on the likelihood of international war and militarized disputes and that ODT offers a more powerful explanation for conflict than other explanations in the international relations (IR) literature. Results cast doubt on the empirical validity of the ODT and indicate that other IR theories have important explanatory power.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)67-89
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • International relations
  • Militarized interstate disputes
  • Offense-defense balance
  • Offense-defense theory


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