Martijn’s research interests concern the nexus of international security and research methodology. He is particularly interested in the empirical analysis of military operations and strategy using advanced quantitative, case-based and mixed-methods designs. (Read more on this.) Other topics Martijn is interested in concern strategic theory and the European Security and Defence Policy.
In his Ph.D. thesis Martijn examined the dynamics of coercive violence by testing Robert Pape’s (1996) denial theory, the best available theory of military coercion to date. Pape claims that, for compellence to be successful, the compeller must undermine the opponent’s military strategy. This emphasis on military strategy, however, fundamentally misrepresents the dynamics of compellence because it neglects strategic interaction. Martijn therefore develops an alternative theoretical model that incorporates interaction by emphasising counter-coercion by the target. The central claim of this theory is that undermining the opponent’s military strategy is not enough. Rather, it is the opponent’s grand strategy that must be undermined, which includes not only its military strategy, but also its attempts at counter-coercion.
To test his new model against Pape’s denial theory, Martijn examined two most-likely cases that should provide supporting evidence for Pape’s theory. Both cases, however, show that Pape’s hypothesized causal process does not come about and that Martijn’s new theoretical model offers a much more convincing explanation for the outcome of these cases. Since the most-likely cases selected should have confirmed denial theory, these findings provide robust evidence for Martijn’s argument that coercion should aim at undermining the opponent’s grand strategy, not its military strategy per se. The implication of these findings is that policymakers must take seriously the opponent’s ability to conduct counter-coercion when seeking to use coercive violence.
Current Book Project
In his current position as a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute Martijn is conducting the research necessary to transform his Ph.D. thesis into a multi-method book manuscript. The working title of this book project is Compelling the Weak: Coercion and Counter-Coercion in Asymmetric Conflict. Future adversaries of Western powers will most likely be relatively weak opponents and existing theories of coercion do not address the problems associated with asymmetric conflict. Weak adversaries, in particular, often turn to counter-coercion because they cannot expect to effectively defend themselves. By building on the theoretical model of counter-coercion that Martijn developed in his Ph.D. thesis, the book project will analyse the causes of compellence success in asymmetric conflict. Read more...
Long Term Research Agenda
Martijn’s long term research agenda seeks to promote the application of rigorous and innovative social science methodology to the study of military strategy in European academia. (Read more on this.) In line with his research agenda, Martijn is developing a second multi-method book project on battlefield air power. The goal of this new research project is to examine the relationship between battlefield breakthrough and the employment of tactical air power and to investigate how the effect of tactical air power has changed over time. The research design for this new book project again involves a combination of statistical analysis and in-depth cases studies. If the available data and the findings permit, Martijn furthermore intends to develop a formal model to explain how air power affects battlefield breakthrough.
Martijn's main research project concerns a 100,000 word multi-method book manusript on the dynamics of coercion and counter-coercion when dealing with much weaker opponent's.
Martijn is currently also working on a smaller research project on the eternal essence of strategy. This project highlights the dangers in "new war thinking" and emphasises the eternal essence of strategy using illustrations from the work of Thucydides, Machiavelli, and Clausewitz.