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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, Strategic Rivalries in World Politics 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.
"Strategic Rivalries in World Politics makes several substantive contributions to our understanding of rivalries. First, the conceptual and empirical distinctions between spatial and positional rivalries are a major contribution to the literature that treats all rivalries as the same. Second, a number of the empirical findings challenge or reinforce past findings about rivalries and thereby extend our knowledge of those phenomena. Yet, the contributions are not confined to the rivalry genre. A nice feature of the book is that the authors use rivalries to gain insights into the validity and utility of some important models and works in international conflict. They demonstrate that considering international conflict in the rivalry context changes or enhances the insights gained from several prominent approaches."
- Paul F. Diehl, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
"This book is a theoretically pathbreaking, historically grounded, empirically systematic, and methodologically rigorous analysis of the origins, escalation, and consequences of strategic rivalries. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the underlying sources of international conflict, the dynamics of serial crises, and the multiple paths to conflict escalation and war."
- Jack S. Levy, Rutgers University
"This is a book of major importance. It provides new data and new findings that greatly enhance our knowledge of inter-state rivalries, conflict, and war. International Relations scholars and diplomatic historians will find this essential reading."
- John A. Vasquez, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Part I. About Strategic Rivalries:
1. An introduction to strategic rivalries
2. Defining and identifying strategic rivalries in world politics
3. Describing strategic rivalries
Part II. The Dangers of Strategic Rivalries: Crisis Behavior and Escalation:
4. Protracted conflict and crisis escalation
5. Serial crisis behavior and escalating risks
Part III. Playing to Type: Spatial and Positional Issues in Strategic Rivalries:
6. Contiguity, space and position in the major power subsystem
7. Initiating and escalating positional and spatial rivalries
Part IV. Filling in Some Steps to War:
8. Arms buildups and alliances in the steps-to-war theory
9. Contested territory and conflict escalation
Part V. Strategic Rivalries and Conflict:
10. Inducements, facilitators, and suppressors.
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Michael P. Colaresi is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University. Karen Rasler is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Indiana University. William R. Thompson is Rogers Professor of Political Science in the Department of Political Science at Indiana University.