This book explores ways foreign intervention and external rivalries can affect the institutionalization of governance in weak states. When sufficiently competitive, foreign rivalries in a weak state can actually foster the political centralization, territoriality and autonomy associated with state sovereignty. This counterintuitive finding comes from studying the collective effects of foreign contestation over a weak state as informed by changes in the expected opportunity cost of intervention for outside actors. When interveners associate high opportunity costs with intervention, they bolster sovereign statehood as a next best alternative to their worst fear – domination of that polity by adversaries. Sovereign statehood develops if foreign actors concurrently and consistently behave this way toward a weak state. This book evaluates that argument against three 'least likely' cases – China, Indonesia and Thailand between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries.
• Highlights interactions among major power competition, foreign intervention, domestic politics and state formation in weak states • Includes substantial material drawn on primary material from several archives and local-language secondary scholarship as well as English-language sources • Brings attention to various roles played outside actors in the domestic politics of state formation in China, Indonesia and Thailand that goes beyond commonly held perspectives
1. Molding the institutions of governance: theories of state formation and the contingency of sovereignty in fragile polities; 2. Imposing states: foreign rivalries, local collaboration, and state form in peripheral polities; 3. Feudalizing the Chinese polity, 1893–1922: assessing the adequacy of alternative takes on state reorganization; 4. External influence and China's feudalization, 1893–1922: opportunity costs and patterns of foreign intervention; 5. The evolution of foreign involvement in China, 1923–52: rising opportunity costs and convergent approaches to intervention; 6. How intervention remade the Chinese state, 1923–52: foreign sponsorship and the building of sovereign China; 7. Creating Indonesia, 1893–1952: major power rivalry and the making of sovereign statehood; 8. Siam stands apart, 1893–1952: external intervention and rise of a sovereign Thai state; 9. Domesticating international relations, externalizing comparative politics: foreign intervention and the state in world politics.