Bruce M. Russett 1935-2023


From 1985 Bruce Russett was the Dean Acheson Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Yale University. For 37 years he was also an appreciated editor of the Journal of Conflict Resolution – with focus on quantitative studies in peace and international relations research.

In a series of publications during the 1990s Russett elaborated the hypothesis that democratic states do not fight wars with each other. His notion “The Kantian Peace” included the combination of democracy, mutual trade and membership in international organizations – developed e.g. in the award winning book with John Oneal, Triangulating Peace (2001), which was followed by discussions on alternative explanations, notably “Capitalist Peace” and “Clash of Civilizations”.

In the 1960s Russett was involved in a series of publications about political and social indicators together with his mentor Karl W. Deutsch and fellow researcher Hayward Alker. His book What Price Vigilance? (1972) questioned the military spending of the United States while in Interest and Ideology (1980), with Elizabeth Hanson, stock-markets were proven to react negatively to increased military budgets, leading to studies of business cycles and military spending. World Politics: The Menu for Choice with Harvey Starr, and later also David Kinsella, has been a standard textbook with updated editions from 1981to 2006.

As an important advisor to the United States Conference of Catholics Bishops e.g. concerning their pastoral letter “The Challenge of Peace,” in the early 1980s. Russett devoted time and effort to the nuclear weapons debate. One of the key conclusions by the Catholic bishops was: “We do not perceive any situation in which the deliberate initiation of nuclear war… can be morally justified “

I first met Bruce Russett in May 1969 as a visiting fellow with the Yale Political Data Program directed by Russett in a small building on Prospect Street in New Haven. This resulted in a long and fruitful cooperation. During the 1990s Russett was a frequent visitor at the Department. When the Department organized a major international conference on conflict prevention along with the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, in 1997, Russett was a key note speaker presenting relevant research.  

Bruce Russett liked to bring Ph.D. candidates at the Department to Yale, notably Erik Melander and Birger Heldt. In 1999 I was also invited as a Visiting Professor. At that time Russett was the professor responsible for HRH Crown Princess Victoria’s studies at Yale University.

Professor Bruce M. Russett was a close friend of the Department of Peace and Conflict Research. In 2002 Uppsala University awarded him the degree of doctor honoris causa – and it was most fitting that Russett could combine the conferral of his honorary doctor degree with the inauguration of the Karl W. Deutsch Room in the Department, assisted by his Royal student.

Peter Wallensteen

Senast uppdaterad: 2022-11-09