Journal of Human Security | 2016 | Volume 12 | Issue 1 | Pages 121–122
DOI: 10.12924/johs2016.12010121
ISSN: 1835–3800
Journal of
Human Security
Book Review
A Review of ‘New Explorations into International Relations:
Democracy, Foreign Investment Terrorism and Conflict’
Published: 15 September 2016
Keywords: empirical research; foreign policy; foreign affairs; international relations (IR); negative results reporting
New Explorations into International Relations:
Democracy, Foreign Investment Terrorism and Conflict
Choi S-W
The University of Georgia Press: Athens, GA, USA. 2016
336 pp.; ISBN: 978-0-8203-4908-4
Author and Scholar Seug-Whan Choi’s ”New Explorations
into International Relations: democracy, foreign investment,
terrorism and conflict” serves as a nexus of interdisciplinary
analysis and findings rooted in evidenced based research.
Indeed, the author set out to challenge and test traditional
international relations (IR) theories by implementing rig-
orous scientific methods in an attempt to produce policy
recommendations and encourage a frameshift in method-
ological approaches. One underlying theme that recurs
throughout this work is the requirement for rigorous statisti-
cal analysis and education in the field of political science.
This has already begun and a re-emphasis is encouraged
and greatly welcomed.
More specifically, the author unpacks the often used
term empirical analysis, highlights some shortcomings to
this methodology and then offers solutions and stopgaps
to mitigate potential pitfalls in future research. Surpris-
ingly, there is still room to describe and offer original in-
sight into the causes and effects of civil war and social
unrest, terrorism, democracy and flows of investment. This
interdisciplinary approach offers cross-cutting themes to
be addressed and some revolutionary ideas based on evi-
dence. Choi is able to systematically upend some very well
established political science, economic and international
relations conclusions that were based on empirical study
through rigorous scientific and statistical methods; leading
to new findings, sometimes the opposite to those found in
the original works examined. At other times they open up
new territories altogether.
I think it is telling that the chapter on democratic and
capitalist states and war and peace turns conventional con-
clusions of current security paradigms on their head. Further-
more, by challenging the paradigm of democratic institutions
and policy outcomes, researchers and decision makers alike
will be encouraged to apply rigorous methods to current and
future policy, and most importantly the trial and error of replica-
tion study. From a methodological standpoint, this text helps
show common pitfalls and relatively simple means to mitigate
failure of accurate interpretation of multiple data sets of infor-
mation. Choi also aptly raises the call for replication studies
and null results reporting/scholarly papers, against the status
quo, and encourages a permanent fixture of replication in
scientific progress. A difficult feat, but greatly needed.
And if statistical analysis and rigorous scientific research
methods and interdisciplinary study offer no interest to the
potential reader, Choi finally unpacks general patterns of
political phenomena and their attributes. In particular, the
discussion on outliers pays attention to an area often over-
looked and its impact on general conclusions reached in
empirical study. But don’t be put off by the many tables of
data, statistical terminology and overall perceived headi-
ness of this text. It is very tangible and would make ideal
reading for the multidisciplinary undergraduate, graduate
student, post doc and established academics alike - the
need for rigorous, open and reproducible results in any
discipline needs to be the mantra and battle cry of best
practices and Choi makes a very good effort on this count.
Later in the text when rule or law versus democratization
are discussed, another example of how data can directly
relate to foreign policy (evidence and non-evidenced based)
are reviewed. Discussion of civil-military relations unpack
some interesting data on how it may relate to terrorism and
other factors.
2016 by the authors; licensee Librello, Switzerland. This open access article was published
under a Creative Commons Attribution License (
Some critique may also benefit this work. Specifically,
in adding to, re-analyzing and manipulating data already
reported and analyzed, ethical considerations should be
clearly defined. In dealing with any data sets, human related
or otherwise, it is easy to have 20/20 hindsight but difficult to
carve ahead and be entirely unique or novel. Perhaps this
work would also benefit from taking its own medicine and be
reproduced in and of itself; to replicate a replication study.
There will be harsh critique of some of the conclusions and
findings featured in this study, but one theme cannot be
attacked: statistical analysis and reproducible study are the
only path to evidence based policy and must be the beacon
of IR and political science study.
John M. Quinn V
Prague Center for Global Health, First Faculty of Medicine,
Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic; E-Mail: