Revenge in international politics

Oded Lowenheim*, Gadi Heimann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


This paper conceptualizes the phenomenon of revenge in international politics and seeks to specify the conditions that increase or diminish the tendency of states to take revenge against enemies. We situate the discussion of revenge within the broader context of emotions in IR. We argue that whether or not a state will take revenge depends on the combinations of three interrelated and mutually constitutive variables: (1) the degree to which a state emotionally experiences harm against it as morally outrageous, (2) the extent of humiliation the harmed state feels, and (3) the degree to which international retaliation is institutionalized by rules and laws that govern the use of cross-border force. We examine the Second Lebanon War (July 2006) as a case of revenge in international politics.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)685-724
Number of pages40
JournalSecurity Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the wise and useful comments and suggestions of the following individuals: Emanuel Adler, Uri Bar-Joseph, Oren Barak, Galia Press-Barnathan, Tal Dingott-Alkopher, Orit Gazit, Todd Hall, Piki Ish Shalom, Korina Kagan, Anthony F. Lang, Nava Löwenheim, Amir Lupovici, Richard W. Mansbach, Jonathan Mercer, Ben Mor, Dan Miodownik, Benjamin Miller, Andrew A.G. Ross, Brent J. Steele, and Alexander Wendt. We also wish to thank the anonymous reviewers of Security Studies and the editors. Funding was provided by the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Foundations Trustees (Project #37/2004).


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