The term international crisis is widespread term without a single common definition. To some, it involves "a sequence of interactions between the governments of two or more sovereign states in severe conflict, short of actual war, but involving the perception of a dangerously high probability of war".
Lebow gives a breakdown of three types of international crises:
- Justification of Hostilities. One of the nations decides, before the crisis starts, to go to war and constructs a crisis to justify it. The pattern of justification is almost always the same: Rouse public opinion, make impossible demands, try to legitimize the demands, deny your real intentions then employ the rejection of the demands as a reason for war. A recent example, commonly employed by critics of George W. Bush, is the Iraq disarmament crisis, which precipitated the Iraq War.
- Spinoff Crisis. The nations are involved in a war or crisis with another nation or nations and this precipitates another crisis, e.g. the Lusitania incident in 1915.
- Brinkmanship. Intentionally forcing a crisis to get the other side to back down. The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 is a well-known example of brinkmanship.
With the exception of a justification of hostilities, the study of international crises assumes that neither side actually wants to go to war, but must be visibly prepared to do so. In the words of Groucho Marx, "Always be sincere, even if you don't mean it".
- limited escalation
- test of capabilities
- "drawing a line"
- Buying time strategy
- Conveying commitment and resolve to avoid miscalculation by the adversary
List of defused crises
International crises tend to result in war, almost by definition; they are then remembered best not as crises but as causes of wars. For information on international crises that resulted immediately in war, see List of wars. Given the above, some of the crises that are best-known as crises were defused. The following crises did not immediately provoke large-scale violence, but set of anger in countries:
- War in sight crisis (1875)
- Anglo-Portuguese Crisis (1889–1890)
- Fashoda Incident (1898–1899)
- First Moroccan Crisis (1904–1906)
- Bosnian crisis (1908–1909)
- Agadir Crisis (1911)
- Åland crisis (1916–1920)
- Remilitarization of the Rhineland (1936)
- Anschluss (1938)
- May Crisis (1938)
- Sudetenland Crisis (1938)
- Iran crisis (1946–1947)
- Berlin Blockade (1948–1949)
- Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)
- Pueblo incident (1968)
- Damansky Island Crisis (1969)
- 1973 Chilean coup
- Axe Murder Incident (1976)
- Beagle conflict (1978)
- Iran hostage crisis (1979)
- Caldas' crisis (1987)
- Able Archer 83 (1983)
- September 11 attacks (2001)
- 2001 Indian Parliament attack (2001)
- November 2008 Mumbai attacks (2008)
- Korean crisis (2013)
- Acuto, Michele (2011-09-07). "Diplomats in Crisis". Diplomacy & Statecraft. online. doi:10.1080/09592296.2011.599661. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- Snyder, Glenn H. and Diesing, Paul: 1977. Conflict Among Nations: Bargaining, Decision Making and System Structure in International Crises. defines an international crisis
- Lebow, Richard N.:1981. Between Peace and War: The Nature of International Crisis.
- George, Alexander L (ed): 1991. Avoiding War: Problems of Crisis Management.
- Snyder, Glenn H. and Diesing, Paul: 1977. Conflict Among Nations: Bargaining, Decision Making and System Structure in International Crises. ISBN 0-691-05664-1
- Lebow, Richard N.:1981. Between Peace and War: The Nature of International Crisis. ISBN 0-8018-2311-0
- George, Alexander L (ed): 1991. Avoiding War: Problems of Crisis Management. ISBN 0-8133-1232-9
- International Crisis Behavior Project's Data Viewer Searchable analyses of 455 crises from 1918 to 2007