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Contingency, Catalysts, and International System Change
Richard Ned Lebow asserts there have been three transformations of the international system in the twentieth century. He conducts a counterfactual analysis of World War I--one such transformation--to show there is no necessary relationship between the number and the intensity of underlying causes and the probability of an event. The immediate causes of World War I--the double assassinations at Sarajevo--met a diverse set of political and psychological requirements without which Austrian and German leaders would not have taken the steps that led to war. Sarajevo indicates that there is a class of situations that require complex and highly specialized triggers whose appearance may be infrequent.

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