Stephen Quackenbush

Stephen Quackenbush
Associate Professor
International Relations
303 Prof. Bldg.
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Stephen L. Quackenbush is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri. He received his PhD in 2003 from the University at Buffalo, SUNY. He is the Director of the Strategic Studies Program at the University of Missouri, and served as President of the International Studies Association – Midwest in 2016 – 2017.


The focus of my research is international relations, specifically international security. In particular, much of my research is in three primary areas: deterrence, recurrent conflict, and strategic studies. My current research focuses largely in the area of strategic studies. I have examined topics such as the impact of initiative on military effectiveness, the importance of Clausewitz’s concept of centers of gravity for war outcomes, and the relationship between past experiences with either counterinsurgency or conventional warfare and war outcomes of the other type of conflict. My deterrence research focuses on improving our understanding of the dynamics of deterrence through rigorous empirical testing, formal theory building, and policy application. In particular, my research has focused on a consistent formal theory of deterrence, perfect deterrence theory. I have tested the theory using both quantitative analyses and case-studies; further developed the theory, particularly in the areas of three-party games and endogenous stakes; and applied the theory to the understanding of policy questions, particularly with regard to national missile defense. The final primary area of my research involves improving our understanding of recurrent conflict between states. My primary argument is that recurrent conflict can best be understood by assessing the ability of deterrence to stabilize peace following a conflict. I have made this argument through a series of articles, arguing that imposed settlements are more stabilizing than negotiated settlements or disputes ending without a settlement—contrary to the previous conventional wisdom. I am the author of Understanding General Deterrence: Theory and Application (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and International Conflict: Logic and Evidence (CQ Press, 2015), and my work has been published in journals such as the Journal of Politics, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Political Research Quarterly, Journal of Peace Research, International Interactions, Conflict Management and Peace Science, and Review of International Studies.


Politics and War
Strategy and Warfare
International Conflict (graduate)
Strategic Studies (graduate)

Selected Publications: 

International Conflict: Logic and Evidence. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2015.

Understanding General Deterrence: Theory and Application. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

“Centers of Gravity and War Outcomes.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 33(4): 361-380, 2016.

“We Always Fight the Last War? Prior Experiences in Counterinsurgency and Conventional Warfare and War Outcomes” [with Amanda Murdie]. International Interactions 41(1): 183-200, 2015.

“National Missile Defense and (Dis)Satisfaction” [with A. Cooper Drury]. Journal of Peace Research 48(4): 469-480, 2011.

“Deterrence Theory: Where Do We Stand?” Review of International Studies 37(2): 741-762, 2011.

“Not All Peace Years are Created Equal: Trade, Imposed Settlements, and Recurrent Conflict” [with Tim Peterson]. International Interactions 36(4): 363-383, 2010.

“Territorial Issues and Recurrent Conflict.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 27(3): 239-252, 2010.

“General Deterrence and International Conflict: Testing Perfect Deterrence Theory.” International Interactions 36(1): 60-85, 2010.

“Evaluating the Monadic Democratic Peace” [with Michael Rudy]. Conflict Management and Peace Science 26(3): 268-285, 2009.

“Settlements, Outcomes, and the Recurrence of Conflict” [with Jerome F. Venteicher]. Journal of Peace Research 45(6): 723-742, 2008.

“National Missile Defense and Deterrence.” Political Research Quarterly 59(4): 533-541, 2006.

“Not only Whether but Whom: Three-party Extended Deterrence.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 50(4): 562-583, 2006.

“Identifying Opportunity for Conflict: Politically Active Dyads.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 23(1): 37-51, 2006.

“The Rationality of Rational Choice Theory.” International Interactions 30(2): 87-107, 2004.

“Sowing the Seeds of Conflict: The Effect of Dispute Settlements on Durations of Peace” [with Paul D. Senese]. Journal of Politics 65(3): 696-717, 2003.