Textual Fingerprints of Risk of War

A Study by Robert L. Hogenraad, Universite? catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, and Rauf R. Garagozov, Center for Strategic Studies, Baku, Azerbaijan, published at Literary and Linguistic Computing

We compute the rate of textual signals of risk of war recognizable in series of consecutive political speeches about a disputed issue serious enough to entail an international conflict. The speeches concern Iran’s nuclear program. We trace textual signals forewarning of risks of war that reactions to this affair lead to. The thrust of the textual analysis rests on the interplay of affiliation and power words in continuous texts, following D. C. McClelland’s model for anticipating wars. The speeches are those of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, US Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, Iranian Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Prefiguring a military confrontation before it occurs involves structuring information from unstructured data. Despite such imperfect knowledge, by the end of January 2012, our results show a receding risk of war on the Iranian side, but an increasing risk on the American one, while remaining ambiguous on the Israeli one.

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