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The Third World Security Predicament: State Making, Regional Conflict, and the International System

Mohammed Ayoob
The Third World Security Predicament:  State Making, Regional Conflict, and the International System
ISBN: 978-1-55587-576-3
ISBN: 978-1-62637-471-3
1995/216 pages/LC: 94-27603
Emerging Global Issues

"Ayoob's treatment of the Third World’s place in the post-Cold War global balance is refreshing and insightful....a must for all those interested in international security and Third World affairs." —S.D. Muni, Contemporary Southeast Asia

"Thought-provoking and is well worth reading, not least because of Ayoob's ability to produce original conclusions from a 'mainstream' theoretical starting-point."—Journal of Peace Research

"A challenging and important contribution to the field."—Adam Cobb, Political Studies

"An intellectually compelling, theoretically sound, and skillfully documented work... powerful and compelling.... Ayoob offers us a novel and interesting way of viewing 'security' and, as such, has enriched both academic and security discourse."—Journal of Third World Studies

"An excellent, well-researched analysis of the behaviour of Third World states in the international system. It establishes clearly the connection between domestic, regional and global dimensions of Third World security."—SURVIVAL: The IISS Quarterly

"One of the best theoretical works on Third World security published to date." —NOD & Conversion

"A valuable addition to the study of Third World security."—Millennium

"This work establishes Ayoob as the premier scholar working on the problems of Third World states."—Richard Ullman

"I admired the clear, confident integration of observations on the security problems of contemporary states with comparative analyses of state formation. The book will now appear in the basic bibliographies I distribute to graduate students here."—Charles Tilly

"Since the 1970s Mohammed Ayoob has been one of the most diligent and farsighted scholars of Third World security issues. He has written a rich, well-documented and multifaceted book which combines novel theoretical insights with historical perspectives and keen empirical observations on contemporary inter- and intra-state politics."—Raimo Vayrynen


This book explores the multifaceted security problems facing the Third World in the aftermath of the Cold War.

Ayoob proposes that the major underlying cause of conflict and insecurity in the Third World is the early stage of state making at which postcolonial states find themselves. Drawing comparisons with the West European experience, he argues that this approach provides richer comparative data and less ephemeral conclusions than those that adopt development or dependency as their basic organizing concepts.

Subsequent chapters analyze the dynamics of interstate conflict in the Third World, the role of Third World countries in the international system, and, especially, the critical impact of the end of the Cold War on the Third World security problematic. Ayoob concludes with a set of explanations intended to help students, scholars, and policymakers decipher the continuing profusion of conflicts in the Third World and the trends and problems that will likely dominate well into the next century.


Mohammed Ayoob is University Distinguished Professor of international relations at Michigan State University. He was Ford Foundation Fellow in International Security at the Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, during the 1993-1994 academic year. His numerous books and articles include Regional Security in the Third World and India and Southeast Asia.


  • Concepts and Definitions: "Third World" and "Security."
  • State Making and Third World Security.
  • Interstate Conflict and Regional Security.
  • The Third World and the System of States.
  • The Third World, Bipolarity, and the Cold War.
  • The Third World and the Post-Cold War Global Balance.
  • The Third World's Post-Cold War Security Predicament: The External Dimension; The Internal Dimension.
  • The Security Problematic of the Third World.