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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: September 2009

7 - Initiating and escalating positional and spatial rivalries


According to Bremer (1992), contiguous dyads lacking alliance linkages and composed of less developed autocracies are more prone to war than dyads lacking these features. Less important but still significant are two other characteristics – the absence of preponderance and the presence of one or more major powers – which also contribute to dyadic warproneness. In the past decade, however, a number of scholars increasingly have turned to a different set of “dangerous dyads” known as rivalries. Instead of assuming that all dyads have an equal probability of friction, why not look more closely at the very small number of dyads that create far more than their share of the world's interstate conflict?

In this chapter, we first view rivalries through the alternative lens of Bremer's “dangerous dyads.” Do the attributes found to identify warproneness in general also inform us about which states are most likely to become rivals? This is a reasonable question to raise given some presumed overlap between rivalry initiation and war-proneness. But we anticipate that there will be a number of reasons to expect that Bremer's profile of most dangerous states, while certainly highlighting important variables, will need considerable modification for use from a rivalry perspective, especially one that does not equate militarized dispute-proneness with rivalry relationships.

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Strategic Rivalries in World Politics
  • Online ISBN: 9780511491283
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