You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in through your institution.

The Power-Conflict Story

The Power-Conflict Story: A Dynamic Model of Interstate Rivalry

Kelly M. Kadera
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 208
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Power-Conflict Story
    Book Description:

    The Power-Conflict Storyexplains patterns of behavior in major world rivalries since 1816. Kelly M. Kadera carefully lays out the dynamic connections between two rival nations' power relationship and their conflictual interactions with one another. Rivals accumulate power and use conflict as a method of reducing their opponent's power level. But conflict is costly because it invites reciprocation from the opponent who has similar motives. Applying the formal model that she has developed, Kadera makes some interesting and novel predictions about which types of rivals win and what strategies they use. The empirical record on national power levels and interstate conflict convincingly support these predictions. Examples include the rise of the United States as a world power and the corresponding fall of British hegemony near the turn of the last century; Germany's unsuccessful attempt to overtake Britain during the Second World War; and Russia's rivalry with China during the early 1900s.

    One of the central contributions of the book's explanation of interstate rivalry is the integration of two opposing schools of thought, balance of power theory and power transition theory. This integration is accomplished by the author's dynamic formal model that emphasizes fluctuations in conflict behavior under different power relationships as well as shifts in power levels resulting from natural growth and resource depletion. The formal model and its analysis are presented in a conversational manner, making it accessible to the reader.

    ThePower-Conflict Storywill appeal to students and scholars of international relations, world history, formal modeling, applied mathematics, numerical methods, and research methodology.

    Kelly M. Kadera is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Iowa.

    eISBN: 978-0-472-02741-5
    Subjects: Political Science
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Tables (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. CHAPTER 1 An Introduction to Storytelling (pp. 1-9)

    This book is primarily a story. It is a story about how nations become more and less powerful, how rival nations compete with one another, and how the relationship between two opponents’ power levels is intimately connected to their competitive behavior. In this introductory chapter, I explain the storytelling process. This includes a presentation of early interests that first suggest the story’s plot, an explanation of how the story is written, a discussion of why the writing process adopted here is a useful one, and a glimpse at the story’s ending and some potential sequels.

    The intellectual roots of this...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Gathering Pieces of the Story (pp. 10-54)

    In the late nineteenth century, Germany experienced unprecedented economic and military growth. By the early twentieth century, Germany had approached and then surpassed Britain as the dominant European power. This transition in power among the European nations led to World Wars I and II, two of the most extensive and bloody wars in modern history. Germany’s provocative strategy ultimately resulted in its total defeat; the nation was partitioned, not to be rejoined until 1990. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union shared approximate parity and joint dominance of the international system. Despite (or due to) their...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Power-Conflict Story (pp. 55-84)

    Chapter 2’ s discussion demonstrated that both the balance of power (BOP) and the power transition (PT) explanations of war are reasonably viable and claim some empirical support. A clear understanding of the relationship between power distributions and conflict behavior therefore does not currently exist. I will attempt to provide such an understanding, not by settling the BOP–PT debate but by drawing on the debate in order to formulate an alternative explanation. The alternative proposed in this chapter is fundamentally different from the BOP and the PT explanations in several important aspects. First, the alternative explanation will be expressed...

  9. CHAPTER 4 The Moral (pp. 85-110)

    Now that the model-building exercise is complete, I turn to an analysis of the model itself. The purpose of this chapter is to elicit from the formal model certain deductions concerning power transitions, that is, to reveal the moral of the story. In the next chapter, many of those deductions will be compared to empirical information. In particular, I am interested in whether transitions are peaceful or conflictual and in the types of power relationships that produce and result from transitions. Whether transitions are peaceful or conflictual is an interesting issue that arises from the BOP-PT debate. Proponents of the...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Verifying the Story (pp. 111-148)

    Good stories might fascinate and intrigue us, but without an element of truth they are merely forms of entertainment. This chapter tests the propositions derived from the numerical analysis of the power-conflict model and listed in table 6. It begins with a brief discussion of the empirical context and the operationalization of national power and interstate conflict. As a test of hypothesis G1, it next identifies all power transitions occurring within the universe of analysis and attempts to classify them into the three types discovered in chapter 4—bull and gnat, tortoise and hare, and David and Goliath. It continues...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Epilogue (pp. 149-162)

    Rather than being concerned with the eventual fate of a main character, this chapter is devoted to the fate of the story itself. Here I must make an objective judgment concerning the ability of the power-conflict model to help us understand the world of international relations. This is somewhat difficult because, as Lave and March caution, researchers run the risk of “falling in love” with their models (1975: 60), much like fiction writers, who may find themselves particularly fond of a character in one of their novels. Toward the end of minimizing the impact of this amorous tendency on the...

  12. APPENDIX A. Simulation Results (pp. 165-165)
  13. APPENDIX B. Power Transitions Among the Major Powers (pp. 166-168)
  14. Notes (pp. 169-176)
  15. References (pp. 177-186)
  16. Index (pp. 187-190)