Strategic Rivalries in World Politics: Position, Space and Conflict Escalation

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2008-01-28
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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International conflict is neither random nor inexplicable. It is highly structured by antagonisms between a relatively small set of states that regard each other as rivals. Examining the 173 strategic rivalries in operation throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this book identifies the differences rivalries make in the probability of conflict escalation and analyzes how they interact with serial crises, arms races, alliances and capability advantages. The authors distinguish between rivalries concerning territorial disagreement (space) and rivalries concerning status and influence (position) and show how each leads to markedly different patterns of conflict escalation. They argue that rivals are more likely to engage in international conflict with their antagonists than non-rival pairs of states and conclude with an assessment of whether we can expect democratic peace, economic development and economic interdependence to constrain rivalry-induced conflict.

Author Biography

William R. Thompson is Rogers Professor of Political Science in the Department of Political Science at Indiana University.

Table of Contents

List of figuresp. ix
List of tablesp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiv
About strategic rivalries
An introduction to strategic rivalriesp. 3
Defining and identifying strategic rivalries in world politicsp. 21
Describing strategic rivalriesp. 73
The dangers of strategic rivalries: Crisis behavior and escalation
Protracted conflict and crisis escalationp. 101
Serial crisis behavior and escalating risksp. 132
Playing to type: Spatial and positional issues in strategic rivalries
Contiguity, space and position in the major power subsystemp. 161
Initiating and escalating positional and spatial rivalriesp. 189
Filling in some steps to war
Arms build-ups and alliances in the steps-to-war theoryp. 219
Contested territory and conflict escalationp. 240
Strategic rivalries and conflict
Inducements, facilitators, and suppressorsp. 275
Referencesp. 291
Indexp. 307
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