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Realism and Revolution

Why (Some) Revolutionary States Go to War

Paul Ewenstein

This book argues that revolutionary wars are generally the product not of ideological fervor but of a desire for territorial gain, encouraged either by a perception of the revolutionary state’s weakness or the chaos caused by shifting borders. However, these are short-term problems, manifesting in the first few years after the revolution, if at all. In the longer run, it is the decision of the revolutionaries over whether or not to adopt a revisionist ideology and the reaction of the international system to that ideology that determines if the revolutionary state will remain conflict-prone. The truth of this theory is demonstrated both by an analysis of the historical record and through case studies of the Iranian, French, Turkish, and Bolivian Revolutions, as well as an examination of the Arab Spring. Finally, the book considers the theoretical lessons to be gleaned from a study of revolutionary conflict and offers some thoughts regarding its future. This book is a valuable resource both for those interested in revolutions and for students of international conflict, and is the only comprehensive work on the subject to take into account recent developments in revolution such as the Arab Spring.

Paul Ewenstein received his undergraduate degree in political science from Tufts University in 2002, and his Ph.D. in political science and international relations from Boston University in 2011. He is currently a lecturer at the Wentworth Institute of Technology.