This three-year Minerva Research Initiative project (2018-2021) analyzed great power behavior in gray zone crises - conflicts that unfold in the space between war and peace, with actors purposely using multiple elements of power to achieve political-security objectives with activities that are ambiguous or cloud attribution. It focused largely on Russia, China, and their proxies, seeking to establish the options available to the U.S. for shaping adversary behavior and managing escalation in this relatively new but increasingly prevalent type of conflict. Focusing on state behavior, the project pooled historical data from several established databases and collected a unique new database focused on state behavior in gray zone international crises, in order to empirically test the effectiveness of different escalation management approaches using statistical analysis, survey tools, and multi-iteration computer modeling.
Wilkenfeld, Jonathan and Egle E. Murauskaite. 2021. "Escalation Management in the Gray Zone." College Park, MD: START (December).