Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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State Death, War Declarations, and Battle Deaths: A Conversation with Tanisha Fazal

by Micah Zenko
April 10, 2017

state death book cover State Death: The Politics and Geography of Conquest, Occupation, and Annexation by Tanisha M. Fazal (Princeton University Press, 2007).


I was honored to talk to Tanisha Fazal, professor of political science and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame, about her extensive and impressive body of policy-relevant work. Fazal is a faculty member at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and a co-director of the Notre Dame International Security Center. In addition to the book State Death: The Politics and Geography of Conquest, Annexation, and Occupation, she is also the author of many excellent works including her more recent article “Rebellion, War Aims, and the Laws of War” and blog post entitled “How Norms Die,” with Seva Gunitsky.

In our conversation, Fazal discusses the international norm against seizure of territory and how it might be changing, and she offers an explanation of why states no longer declare war or conclude peace treaties. We also talk about the policy implications of her findings that war may not actually be on the decline, and what it means that advances in military medicine, while decreasing the number of battle fatalities, have also cause a huge relative increase in the number of battle casualties. These findings counter recent scholarship that relies on battle death trends, and have serious implications for public perceptions of war and casualty aversion.

Tanisha gives advice to young scholars, from what to do before graduate school to how to pick a research question—and the academic utility of getting annoyed. Listen to our conversation, and be sure to follow Fazal at @tanishafazal.

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