Jump to Content Jump to Main Navigation

International Relations Power Transition Theory
by
Ronald L. Tammen, Jacek Kugler, Doug Lemke

Introduction

Power transition theory is a structural and dynamic approach to world politics. Although it is sometimes associated with the realist school (see the Oxford Bibliographies article on Realism) due to its focus on power relationships, it differs in terms of its description of the international system as well as its focus on the importance of status quo evaluations. Unlike realism’s emphasis on anarchy, the power transition perspective envisions global politics as a hierarchy of nations with varying degrees of cooperation and competition. Additionally, the theory differentiates between domestic and international politics by viewing world politics as integrated horizontally and vertically. The static picture of structure and rules is complemented by dynamic factors that demonstrate how and why change occurs in the international system. Power transition focuses on differential growth rates and their effect on altering relative power between nations, resulting in new relationships among nations and the formation of new political and economic entities. One by-product of differential growth is the high potential for conflict when a challenger and a preeminent or dominant nation reaches the stage of relative equivalence of power, and specifically when the challenger is dissatisfied with the status quo. Understanding the interaction of the structural and dynamic components of power transition theory provides a probabilistic tool by which to measure these changes, and to forecast likely events in future rounds of change. While based on empirically tested propositions backed by large data sets, the theory has an intuitive feel that maximizes its utility for interpreting current events, including the rise of China and India and the related effects on world politics.

General Overviews

Power transition theory was first enumerated in Organski 1968, tested in Organski and Kugler 1980, expanded in Kugler and Lemke 1996 and Tammen, et al. 2000, and summarized in Tammen 2008.

  • Kugler, Jacek, ed. Special Issue: Power Transitions. International Interactions 38.5 (2011).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This recent summary includes major articles by a key contributor that summarizes the key propositions and updates the evolution of power transition theory until 2012. Much of this work is now ongoing. Online issue only. Articles available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Kugler, Jacek, and Douglas Lemke, eds. Parity and War: Evaluations and Extensions of the War Ledger. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This edited volume empirically expands and tests power transition propositions first explored in Organski and Kugler 1980. In particular, the work tests parity propositions using various formal methods, including econometrics, expected utility, game theory, and differential calculus.

    Find this resource:

  • Organski, A. F. K. World Politics. 2d ed. New York: Knopf, 1968.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this book first published in 1958, Organski lays out the foundation for power transition theory, including the notion of a hierarchical international order and stages of transition that affect the relative power among nations. States with significant population bases that industrialize can provide the necessary preconditions for war if the rising state reaches power parity with the dominant state and is dissatisfied with the dominant’s status quo order.

    Find this resource:

  • Organski, A. F. K., and Jacek Kugler. The War Ledger. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Organski and Kugler provide the first empirical test of the theory’s propositions, and confirm that major power conflict is largely determined as challengers approach power parity with the defender. They further articulate the “phoenix factor” of rapid recovery by economically developed states after a war among the major powers. Lastly, they determine that arms race dynamics are not externally motivated, questioning the assumed stability of nuclear deterrence.

    Find this resource:

  • Tammen, Ronald L. “The Organski Legacy: A Fifty-Year Research Program.” International Interactions 34.4 (2008): 314–332.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050620802561769Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This succinct article summarizes the history of the power transition research agenda, compares the theory to the balance of power concept, and further develops the theme of the Asian challenge. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Tammen, Ronald, Jacek Kugler, and Douglas Lemke, et al. Power Transitions: Strategies for the 21st Century. New York: Chatham House, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This work details historical cases of power transitions and compiles advances made in the power transition research paradigm, including the likelihood of conflict based on the speed of transitions and the notion of multiple hierarchies within the global hierarchy, as well as exploring the conditions under which nuclear deterrence is stable. It concludes with policy recommendations for managing Asia’s impending transitions.

    Find this resource:

Power

Power transition theory defines power as the ability of one nation to advance its goals by altering the policy or policies of another. It uses economic, demographic, and political factors to measure power. In the original conception of Organski 1968 (cited under General Overviews), power was calculated at the national level by total gross domestic product (GDP). This indicator remains one of the most useful tools for rough forecasts of future performance, and, consequently, it has been adopted by the national security community as indicated in the work of the National Intelligence Council. But over time, wealth was found inadequate to account for political performance. Recognizing this deficiency, Organski and Kugler 1980 (cited under General Overviews) recalculated power/wealth by accounting for the capability of governments to extract resources from populations. Organski and Kugler also computed the role of foreign aid in bolstering a state’s power during a conflict. These capacity measures were refined in Arbetman and Kugler 1997. The revised measurement of power included population, productivity, and political performance. Tests show that incorporating the political aspects of power was essential for understanding the outcomes of significant conflicts such as World Wars I and II, and for anticipating the outcomes of asymmetric conflicts such as Vietnam or Afghanistan where the United States and the USSR were unsuccessful despite overwhelming power preponderance (Kugler and Domke 1986; Kugler and Arbetman 1989). A final adjustment flowing from the insight made in Boulding 1962 led to the addition of a power gradient that discounts the influence of a nation based on the distance to target (Lemke 1993). This adjustment is essential in understanding why Japan overcame Russia in 1905, and why contiguous countries behave differently when physical barriers, such as the Andes mountain range, separate two potential contenders such as Argentina and Chile. The concept of power with the inclusion of political performance distinguishes the power transition tradition from the power concepts traditionally associated with realism. Relative power measures have also been applied to alliance systems. Kim 1989 introduces alliance conditions into power transition theory in estimating the optimal times for war between states, finding that alliances at parity are associated with increased risk of conflict.

  • Arbetman, Marina, and Jacek Kugler. Political Capacity and Economic Behavior. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1997.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This edited volume explores the effects of two political-capacity measures on political and economic performance. Relative political reach (RPR) examines the penetration a government has within its own society, whereas relative political extraction (RPE) looks to the ability of the central government to obtain resources via taxation. The measures are not based on regime type and allow comparison across time and countries.

    Find this resource:

  • Boulding, Kenneth. Conflict and Defense: A General Theory. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Boulding posits a loss-of-strength gradient such that as the distance increases between two states, the ability to conduct military operations is sharply reduced.

    Find this resource:

  • Kim, Woosang. “Power, Alliance, and Major Wars, 1816–1975.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 33.2 (June 1989): 255–273.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002789033002004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    For Kim, parity exists when the capabilities of a state plus those of its allies are roughly equal to the capabilities of a rival state and its allies. Kim’s alliance work shows that parity makes war more likely even when taking into account the likely contributions of allies. Parity and dissatisfaction are thus robustly shown to correspond with war. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Kugler, Jacek, and Marina Arbetman. “Choosing among Measures of Power.” In Power in World Politics. Edited by Richard Stoll and Michael Ward, 49–78. Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1989.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Kugler and Arbetman compare the performance of gross national product (GNP) in comparison to the Correlates of War (COW) power measure. They find that COW captures actual power by incorporating the number of resources at a given time, whereas GNP captures potential power. For the purposes of forecasting, potential power is more pertinent. However, GNP is insufficient unless it is controlled with political-capacity measures.

    Find this resource:

  • Kugler, Jacek, and William Domke. “Comparing the Strength of Nations.” Comparative Political Studies 19.1 (April 1986): 39–69.

    DOI: 10.1177/0010414086019001002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors find that politically capable governments can mobilize resources from the society during war, irrespective of regime type. The absolute political capacity of rich states is higher than in poorer societies. After tempering GDP with the political-capacity measure, the outcomes of major wars since the 20th century are successfully predicted. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Lemke, Douglas. “Multiple Hierarchies in World Politics.” PhD diss., Vanderbilt University, 1993.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This dissertation introduced the “multiple hierarchy model,” which generalized power transition to the minor power level for the first time. The “loss of strength gradient” is used to adjust power measures and to take into account considerations of distance and terrain. The power measure is tempered by the increased difficulty for armies to traverse difficult terrain.

    Find this resource:

Political Performance

The search for an improved power measure led to the development of political performance indicators that could be used as independent components to explain economic growth, population changes, and even allocations of foreign direct investment (Arbetman and Kugler 1997; Organski, et al. 1984; Kugler and Coan 2008). Performance metrics include assessing “political penetration” by measuring the government’s material extractive capacity and its political reach within populations. Effective governments require resources to advance their goals. In addition to extraction and political reach, the third component of political penetration is allocation, which deals with the optimal use of public resources to advance national growth. This new concept closes an intellectual gap by assessing the allocation capacity of governments to advance economic growth; a gap created by not taking into account how governments used the resources they extracted from society. These political performance variables have the further advantage of being available both nationally and subnationally. This permits analyses of the influence of political penetration on both conflict and growth from the national to the provincial and local levels.

  • Arbetman, Marina, and Jacek Kugler. Political Capacity and Economic Behavior. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1997.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This edited volume explores the effects of political-capacity measures on political and economic performance. Two measures are applied. First, relative political reach (RPR) examines the degree of penetration a government has within its own society. Second, relative political extraction (RPE) looks to the ability of the central government to obtain resources from its populace via taxation policy. The major contribution is the objective nature of these measures, as they are not based on regime type. They further allow comparison across time and countries.

    Find this resource:

  • Kugler, Tadeusz, and Travis Coan. “The Politics of Foreign Direct Investment: An Interactive Framework.” International Interactions 34.4 (2008): 402–422.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050620802561462Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors show that foreign direct investment is motivated by the willingness of effective governments to allow capital investment in their societies. Weak governments that desire such investments fail to attract foreign direct investment while strong governments that wish to prevent investment succeed in doing so. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Organski, A. F. K., Jacek Kugler, Timothy Johnson, and Youssef Cohen. Births, Deaths, and Taxes: The Demographic and Political Transitions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book shows that political capacity causes demographic transition by accounting for the initial decline in mortality and subsequent decline in fertility. This is the necessary precondition for any society to achieve developed status.

    Find this resource:

Status Quo

Power transition theory argues that relations within and across nations are not governed by anarchy; instead, they vary substantially based on satisfaction or its absence. The most powerful nation atop the global or regional hierarchy is the “dominant” nation (a term of art that does not equate with hegemonic). This dominant or preeminent nation attempts to manage the international system with a coalition of stable, satisfied nations that support the main components of the status quo. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction are two ends of a continuum along which are arrayed all members of the hierarchy. Nations are not always fully satisfied with one another; rather, nations interact differently based on their degree of shared preferences. The first systematic attempt to measure satisfaction looked to alliance associations. The initial alliance-similarity measure Tau B (Organski and Kugler 1980, cited under General Overviews; Kim 1989, cited under Power) has been complemented with the newer S measure (Signorino and Ritter 1999). A second status quo measure is based on arms buildups. A buildup by one actor in preparation for war can be said to indicate dissatisfaction with the potential rival (Werner and Kugler 1996, Lemke 2002). A third security variable measures the transfer of arms from suppliers—mainly the United States, USSR/Russia, and Europe. The presumption is that major powers would transfer resources to satisfied nations rather than to those that might threaten them with their use (Childs 2011). These measures are highly responsive to policy changes, although they fail to identify satisfaction for autarkic nations. Apart from security, scholars have also looked to economic measurements, such as shifting interest rates and the movement of money or goods. Above-average interest rates could reflect dissatisfaction with the society, while low rates might suggest satisfaction (Bueno de Mesquita 1990). Increased trade dependence could be said to reflect satisfied states (Danilovic and Clare 2007). Another popular approach is to combine aggregate indicators. The measure in Benson 2004 combines military alliances and economic transfers to identify satisfaction. The author concludes that the security component of alliances is the primary determinant of the two.

  • Benson, Michelle. “Dyadic Hostility and the Ties That Bind: State-to-State versus State-to-System Security and Economic Relationships.” Journal of Peace Research 44.6 (November 2004): 659–676.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022343304047431Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Benson determined that dyadic peace is heightened when states increase direct ties to one another, and when they increase their economic and security ties to the prevalent international status quo. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce. “Pride of Place: The Origins of German Hegemony.” World Politics 43.1 (October 1990): 28–52.

    DOI: 10.2307/2010550Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Bueno de Mesquita examines the Seven Weeks’ War as a case of a regional war that migrates upward to the system level. He uses changes in the interest rate to reflect changes in satisfaction with the status quo, where a low rate indicates satisfaction and a high rate portends dissatisfaction. This operationalization assumes that satisfaction is synonymous with economic performance, which power transition scholars dispute. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Childs, Steven. “Security as Satisfaction: Conventional Arms Transfers and the International Order.” PhD diss., Claremont Graduate University, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Childs creates an interstate satisfaction measure based on preferences, but controlled for security using arms-transfer relationships. The empirical results for conflict onset and severity are stronger than equivalent models using the alliance-based metric.

    Find this resource:

  • Danilovic, Vesna, and Joe Clare. “Global Power Transitions and Regional Interests.” International Interactions 33.3 (2007): 289–304.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050620701451138Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors examine power transition theory at two theoretically linked levels. They modify the theory’s foundation of parity and satisfaction by continuing to look to changes in power at the global level, but examine satisfaction at the regional level. They devise a trade-based measure of satisfaction for this regional level. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Lemke, Douglas. Regions of War and Peace. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511491511Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lemke empirically tests the multiple hierarchy model, finding that power transition’s mechanics of parity and dissatisfaction increasing the likelihood of war applies to minor powers in addition to the great powers.

    Find this resource:

  • Signorino, Curtis, and Jeffrey Ritter. “Tau-B or Not Tau-B: Measuring the Similarity of Foreign Policy Positions.” International Studies Quarterly 43.1 (March 1999): 115–144.

    DOI: 10.1111/0020-8833.00113Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Signornio and Ritter point to the limitations in using the tau-beta measure of alliance portfolios, noting that tau-beta captures association rather than similarity. They introduce an S measure that corrects for tau-beta’s shortcomings, as well as allows multiple dimensions of similarity. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Werner, Suzanne, and Jacek Kugler. “Power Transitions and Military Buildups: Resolving the Relationship between Arms Buildups and War.” In Parity and War: Evaluations and Extensions of the War Ledger. Edited by Jacek Kugler and Douglas Lemke, 187–208. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors confirm power transition expectations in looking at the conditions necessary for transition by using a measure of excessive military buildups as a signal of dissatisfaction.

    Find this resource:

Hierarchy

Contrary to the advocates of anarchy, power transition posits that the world is organized into a commonsense hierarchy of power and influence that often is stable. The most stable hierarchy is one in which a dominant power has support from a large coalition of satisfied allies. That arrangement allows the coalition to peacefully manage competition over scarce resources. This asymmetric distribution is stable when the dominant nation drafts acceptable rules that guarantee international security and trade among the satisfied. Some have argued that satisfaction is synonymous with economic performance (Bussmann and Oneal 2007). But power transition scholars believe that satisfied states may endure periods of poor economic performance, yet remain satisfied with the dominant order because they expect to do worse under an alternative order (Lemke and Reed 1998, Lemke 2004). Thus the power transition hierarchy is not consistent with hegemony or interdependence (Keohane 1984), because a dominant power cannot unilaterally impose rules that secure stability. Rather, a dominant power leads by creating satisfaction rather than fear, cooperation rather than conflict, and the sharing of resources rather than fights over resource allocation. The stable hierarchy concept accounts for the long periods of global peace, such as the absence of war between Germany, France, and Britain after World War II. During the post-1945 period there have been several periods of parity among these one-time foes, yet, as members of the satisfied coalition, they cooperated and created the European Union (EU). Instability occurs at the global level when there is a challenger in the hierarchy that is dissatisfied with its role and the rules of the road promulgated by the dominant power. This instability can lead to world wars. The hierarchy concept has been generalized by Lemke from the global to the regional level. For example, peace is maintained in the South American hierarchy because all the major states are relatively satisfied with this arrangement as indicated by their participation in MERCOSUR (Lemke and Werner 1996). Understanding regional hierarchies adds complexity and generality to the power transition perspective (Efird, et al. 2005; Yeşilada, et al. 2006). Regional powers cannot effectively intervene in the global hierarchy, just as regional-level conflict does not escalate to the global level.

  • Bussmann, Margit, and John Oneal. “Do Hegemons Distribute Private Goods? A Test of Power-Transition Theory.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 51.1 (February 2007): 88–111.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002706296178Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors challenge power transition theory in arguing that the dominant state does not distribute private goods to its satisfied members. Power transition scholars argue that satisfaction is not tantamount to material benefits; rather, it is a function of expected gains relative to an alternative order. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • de Soysa, Indra, John Oneal, and Yong-Hee Park. “Testing Power-Transition Theory Using Alternative Measures of National Capabilities.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 41.4 (August 1997): 509–528.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002797041004002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors argue that a state’s satisfaction is based on its power, and that power transition theory must assume that the rising challenger is dissatisfied. This explication is challenged in Lemke and Reed 1998. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Efird, Brian, Birol Yeşilada, and Peter Noordijk. “Power Transition Analysis of the Caucasus Region, 2010–2050.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Honolulu, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors apply a power transition specification to generate conflict and integration forecasts for six states of the Caucasus region.

    Find this resource:

  • Keohane, Robert. After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Keohane’s work seeks to bridge the realist/idealist divide in arguing that international institutions and cooperation are natural outgrowths of rational choice calculations. Thus, what are held to be “idealist” perspectives of international relations are posited to be realist in origin.

    Find this resource:

  • Lemke, Douglas. “Great Powers in the Post-Cold War World: A Power Transition Perspective.” In Balance of Power: Theory and Practice in the 21st Century. Edited by T. V. Paul, James Wirtz, and Michel Fortmann, 52–75. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lemke offers a critique of offensive realism, arguing that the unconditional tenets of the theory are not supported by the activities of states that are not at conflict. He then contrasts the theory to power transition and its conditions of parity and dissatisfaction for engaging in conflict.

    Find this resource:

  • Lemke, Douglas, and William Reed. “Power Is Not Satisfaction: A Comment on de Soysa, Oneal, and Park.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 42.4 (August 1998): 511–516.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002798042004006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors respond to the critique of de Soysa, et al. 1997, charging them with misinterpreting power transition theory’s definition of satisfaction. Lemke and Reed argue that the preferences that drive satisfaction are decoupled from growth; hence, it is possible for a rising challenger to be dissatisfied despite its growth. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Lemke, Douglas, and Suzanne Werner. “Power Parity, Commitment to Change, and War.” International Studies Quarterly 40.2 (June 1996): 235–260.

    DOI: 10.2307/2600958Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lemke and Werner use military buildups by challengers as a proxy for dissatisfaction. For their sample, they look to great powers when the great power dyad includes a dominant power and determine that the joint conditions of parity and war see higher conflict incidence. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Yeşilada, Birol, Brian Efird, and Peter Noordijk. “Competition among Giants: A Look at How Future Enlargement of the European Union Could Affect Global Power Transition.” International Studies Review 8.4 (December 2006): 607–622.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2486.2006.00629.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors apply power transition dynamics to the European Union, finding that it will fall behind the global power of China and the United States unless it adds Russia and/or Turkey. The Iran-Turkey dyad is also forecasted to have a high probability of conflict; Turkey’s inclusion into the EU would mitigate this by fostering a power imbalance. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Transition Dynamics

Power transition theory highlights as dangerous the period of time when a challenging nation approaches the power of a dominant nation. This is called the period of parity and is defined as that time when the challenger reaches 80 percent of the power of the dominant nation and it continues until the challenger passes 120 percent. The probability of war goes up during this period of parity. And the probability of conflict escalates even higher if the challenging nation also is dissatisfied. At the global level, this is the story of the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, and World War II. The theory also specifies that these transitions in power can be peaceful, when both parties are satisfied, as in the case of the United Kingdom and the United States. The theory provides evidence about the timing, severity, and duration of wars during parity (see Tammen, et al. 2000, chapter 1; cited under General Overviews). Most power transition researchers argue that conflict takes place after the overtaking because the dominant nation generally controls the larger winning coalition prior to the transition (Organski and Kugler 1980, cited under General Overviews; Kim 1991, Bueno de Mesquita and Lalman 1992). Others have contrasting views and refinements about timing (Alsharabati and Kugler 2008, Rasler and Thompson 1994, Fearon 1995, Lemke 2003). For an empirical exploration of the relationship between parity and escalation, see Braithwaite and Lemke 2011. The complex dynamics linking power, policies, and conflict have been investigated with a simultaneous systems equations approach utilized in Abdollahian and Kang 2008. This study offers a comprehensive understanding of options and outcomes where structures set the necessary conditions for war.

  • Abdollahian, Mark, and Kyungkook Kang. “In Search of Structure: The Nonlinear Dynamics of Power Transitions.” International Interactions 34.4 (December 2008): 333–357.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050620802574887Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors construct a power transition system of nonlinear differential equations to show that conflict severity depends on the policy adopted in response to changes in the challenger’s power share. When a challenger adopts a hostile foreign policy stance, the stage is set for an early conflict initiation and war escalation. Conversely, an accommodating foreign policy stance by a challenger toward a defender leads to cooperation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Alsharabati, Carole, and Jacek Kugler. “War Initiation in a Changing World.” International Interactions 34.4 (December 2008): 358–381.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050620802574960Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper demonstrates why satisfied countries do not initiate conflict when they are preponderant, despite the fact that they are aware the challenger may do so subsequent to the transition point. Formal proofs are provided. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Braithwaite, Alex, and Douglas Lemke. “Unpacking Escalation.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 28.2 (April 2011): 111–123.

    DOI: 10.1177/0738894210396631Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors compare a variety of escalation measures, finding few that correlate. The results indicate that power parity says more about conflict onset than it does about the escalation of existing conflict. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, and David Lalman. War and Reason: Domestic and International Imperatives. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book introduces the international interactions game, which accounts for crisis escalation to war. The authors examine more than seven hundred dyads from European states to find support for their theory.

    Find this resource:

  • Fearon, James. “Rationalist Explanations for War.” International Organization 49.3 (Summer 1995): 379–414.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818300033324Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Fearon seeks to understand why rational states would not reach a peaceful accommodation instead of waging war. He hypothesizes that states have incentives to misrepresent private information through bluffing, and that commitment problems develop over scarce resources and the indivisibility of issues. Both of these traits contribute to misperception that can produce conflict. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Kim, Woosang. “Alliance Transitions and Great Power War.” American Journal of Political Science 35.4 (November 1991): 833–850.

    DOI: 10.2307/2111496Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Kim measures relative power in terms of each great power and their alliance, and measures satisfaction using the tau-beta measure of alliance similarity. He finds that under conditions of power parity and dissatisfaction, major war likelihood increases. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Lemke, Douglas. “Investigating the Preventive Motive for War.” International Interactions 29.4 (December 2003): 273–292.

    DOI: 10.1080/714950650Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lemke looks at country dyads to see whether a war is fought and whether one dyad member was declining in power relative to the other. He finds that power declines are unrelated to the probability of war. He finds that both parity and status quo dissatisfaction are associated with a higher probability of war. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Rasler, Karen, and William Thompson. The Great Powers and Global Struggle, 1490–1990. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Rasler and Thompson articulate a structural transition model. States ascend to system global leadership due to innovation, which produces naval supremacy. They are then challenged by a rising continental power. Unlike power transition theory, the structural transition model says nothing about the status quo, and it explicitly states that transitions are contests between global naval powers and continental land powers.

    Find this resource:

Deterrence

Classical deterrence theory is rooted in the balance of power perspective and is based largely on the concept of mutual assured destruction (MAD). This condition, where two states are equally vulnerable to one another thanks to a secure second strike, is believed to create a balance of nuclear capabilities among contenders that insures peace. The costs of war are thought to be too high to contemplate (Brodie 1946, Intriligator and Brito 1984). Power transition challenges this hypothesis in arguing for conditional deterrence, where stability is based on the asymmetric possession of nuclear capabilities by a satisfied dominant power. Stability was maintained during the Cold War because the United States and Europe held a combined nuclear, conventional, and economic superiority over the USSR and Warsaw Pact. The classical perspective generally proposes that with a balance in nuclear forces, massive retaliation (MR) and MAD conditions are both ultra-stable (Fearon 1997). In sharp contrast, the power transition asymmetric perspective infers that MAD is tenuous, while MR is unstable when held by a dissatisfied challenger, but ultra-stable when held by the satisfied defender. These results are presented in Organski 1968 (cited under General Overviews), Kugler 1984, Kugler 1996, George and Smoke 1974, Kugler and Zagare 1987, Zagare and Kilgour 2000, and Kang 2011. Theories regarding deterrence have important implications with regard to proliferation (see Proliferation).

  • Brodie, Bernard, ed. The Absolute Weapon: Atomic Power and World Order. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1946.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Brodie argued that the qualitatively destructive power of nuclear weapons changes the entire aim of their possessors from winning wars to preventing them. Brodie argues that nuclear strategy should revolve around making weapons as destructive as possible, in order to make the costs of employment prohibitive.

    Find this resource:

  • Fearon, James. “Signaling Foreign Policy Interests: Tying Hands versus Sinking Costs.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 41.1 (February 1997): 68–90.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002797041001004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Fearon argues that state leaders in foreign policy use two strategies to increase their bargaining leverage. First, leaders “tie their hands” by making promises to domestic audiences that cannot be ignored. Second, they can create “sunk costs” such as troop mobilizations that cannot be recuperated. The former is more effective than the later in terms of foreign policy bargaining. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • George, Alexander, and Richard Smoke. Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice. New York: Columbia University Press, 1974.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors compile and explore case studies of deterrence involving the United States from the end of World War II until the Cuban Missile Crisis. They posit that the initiator’s possession of multiple options is the most significant determinant of deterrence.

    Find this resource:

  • Intriligator, Michael, and Dagobert Brito. “Can Arms Races Lead to the Outbreak of War?” Journal of Conflict Resolution 28.1 (March 1984): 63–84.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002784028001004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors use simultaneous differential equations to model deterrence via nuclear arms race dynamics. They conclude that quantitative advances in one’s arsenal are stabilizing, since they preserve retaliatory capability in the light of another’s qualitative advances. However, qualitative advances are asserted to be destabilizing, as they negate the overall balance that is thought to be stabilizing. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Kang, Kyungkook. “Conditional Deterrence: Microeconomic Analysis of War Initiation Mechanism.” PhD diss., Claremont Graduate University, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Kang determines that if a dominant nation’s foreign policy response to a challenger is hostile, the competition moves from accommodation to hostility if both sides approach parity, but declines when the challenger is weaker. As the defender begins to question the rise of the challenger, small increases toward a hostile policy stance produces sharp increases in dyadic conflict.

    Find this resource:

  • Kang, Kyungkook and Jacek Kugler. “Nuclear Weapons: Stability of Terror.” In Debating a Post-American World: What Lies Ahead? Edited by Sean Clark and Sabrina Hoque, 169–175. New York: Routledge, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Defines conditional deterrence by introducing the notion of risk into the calculation of deterrence. Demonstrates that deterrence is tenuous, and proposes an institutional nuclear security council to reduce the likelihood of nuclear war in the future.

    Find this resource:

  • Kugler, Jacek. “Terror without Deterrence.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 28.3 (September 1984): 470–506.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002784028003005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Kugler examines the relations of nuclear with nonnuclear states, finding that their interactions do not appreciably change once a state becomes nuclear. He calls into question the assumption of peace through nuclear deterrence. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Kugler, Jacek. “Beyond Deterrence: Structural Conditions for a Lasting Peace.” In Parity and War: Evaluations and Extensions of the War Ledger. Edited by Jacek Kugler and Douglas Lemke, 231–248. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Kugler challenges the balance-of-power perspective of MAD, which predicts that the addition of nuclear weapons leads to a fundamental change in the behavior of decision makers. Rather, he specifies that deterrence is conditioned by the degree of power parity and dissatisfaction present in a dyad.

    Find this resource:

  • Kugler, Jacek, and Frank Zagare, eds. Exploring the Stability of Deterrence. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1987.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book asesses the stability of deterrence from different theoretical perspectives, showing that, in the long term, deterrent threats are insufficient to prevent nuclear war. The book formalizes power transition, mutual assured destruction, and Darwinian logics of deterrence to support these conclusions.

    Find this resource:

  • Zagare, Frank, and Marc Kilgour. Perfect Deterrence. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511491788Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors introduce perfect deterrence theory, isolate the conditions of stability and instability, and refute the logic of classical deterrence theory. Deterrence is found when both players have capable and credible threats. Capable threats are those that can physically inflict damage, whereas credible threats are believed. Thus, only rational threats can be credible, in contrast to classical deterrence theory, which infers credibility from capability.

    Find this resource:

Proliferation

A central implication of classical deterrence is that nuclear proliferation increases security (see the Oxford Bibliographies article on Proliferation). Intriligator and Brito 1981, Waltz 1981, Bueno de Mesquita and Riker 1982, and Berkowitz 1985 argue that as nations acquire balanced nuclear capabilities, the stability of the international system increases. If one accepts the logic of MAD that high costs deter wars, then the more states that possess a nuclear arsenal and can inflict high costs, the fewer wars will occur. This is an argument for unrestricted nuclear proliferation. Today it is an unpopular argument, and many deterrence theorists ignore the logical connection between what they say about deterrence and what they deny about proliferation. In the power transition world a satisfied nuclear nation will not initiate nuclear war, for it prefers the status quo to conflict. In contrast, a dissatisfied nuclear nation will avoid conflict when it anticipates a conventional defeat followed by a nuclear retaliation. However, a dissatisfied nuclear nation at parity may wage war anticipating the defender will not take the risk of escalating to nuclear war. Thus, parity combined with dissatisfaction can trigger the use of nuclear weapons. Consistent with the “perfect deterrence” theory in Zagare and Kilgour 2000 (cited under Deterrence), the elaboration of conditional nuclear deterrence logic found in Kang 2011 (cited under Deterrence) and Kang and Kugler 2012 indicates that terrorists are likely to use nuclear weapons if they acquire them. For terrorists, there is no credible threat of retaliation because there is no geographic home base to target. From this perspective, the solution is not the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but rather efforts to reduce nuclear arsenals and thereby reduce the risk of nuclear war.

  • Berkowitz, Bruce. “Proliferation, Deterrence, and the Likelihood of Nuclear War.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 29.1 (March 1985): 112–136.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002785029001006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Berkowitz argues that the mere possession of nuclear weapons informs little as to their deterrence value unless one takes into account offensive delivery capabilities. He advocates hardening the secure second-strike capabilities of nuclear nations to ensure the integrity of MAD. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, and William Riker. “An Assessment of the Merits of Selective Nuclear Proliferation.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 28.2 (June 1982): 283–306.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002782026002005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors believe that nuclear proliferation is dangerous in general, but should be encouraged in cases in which allies are in danger of being attacked. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Intriligator, Michael, and Dagobert Brito. “Nuclear Proliferation and the Probability of Nuclear War.” Public Choice 37.2 (1981): 247–260.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF00138245Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors construct a model of nuclear proliferation and the probability of nuclear use. They determine that the largest threat to security is the accidental use of weapons, not the use of weapons in anger. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Kang, Kyungkook, and Jacek Kugler. “Nuclear Weapons: Stability of Terror.” In Debating a Post-American World: What Lies Ahead? Edited by Sean Clark and Sabrina Hoque, 169–175. New York: Routledge, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The work defines conditional deterrence by introducing the notion of risk into the calculation of deterrence. The work demonstrates that deterrence is tenuous, and proposes an institutional nuclear security council to reduce the likelihood of nuclear war in the future.

    Find this resource:

  • Waltz, Kenneth. The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Be Better. Adelphi Papers 171. London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1981.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Waltz argues that nuclear weapons create a stabilizing element in international relations by contributing to deterrence, and that their proliferation should be encouraged.

    Find this resource:

Civil War

Power transition theory has proven useful in analyzing war and peace among major and minor powers. Another promising strand of research uses power transition to explain when wars will occur within states. Power transition theory was first applied to the study of civil war in Benson and Kugler 1998, demonstrating that when there is parity between the government and the rebels, civil wars are more severe; a relationship that is also observed in wars fought between states. Similarly, Toft 2007 shows that ethnic groups at power parity face an increased likelihood of civil war. Additional research in Lemke 2008 has used power transition theory to predict the onset of wars within states. The author finds strong support for the power transition hypotheses about parity and differing evaluations of the status quo in this first study using power transition theory to predict the onset of civil war. Lemke is currently collecting a global data set of de facto states with which to test much more broadly whether parity and dissatisfaction are associated with the onset of civil war (Lemke 2011). Most recently, Cederman, et al. 2009a; Cederman, et al. 2009b; and Cederman, et al. 2010 have approached the question of predicting the onset of civil war in constructing a data set accounting for the relative parity of ethnic groups. These authors then study ethnic-group–government pairs as the unit of analysis. This approach is able to predict when civil wars will occur among ethnic factions within a state (provided that one ethnic group controls the government), and has a much larger empirical domain than is used in Lemke’s initial study. Although Cederman and his colleagues do not explicitly test power transition theory, they consistently find that power parity within ethnic group/government dyads makes civil war more likely. A test of escalation, in Koubi, et al. 2011, shows that a direct relationship exists between conflict escalation and power transition elements, as does the work of Cunningham, et al. 2011 relating parity and duration of civil war. Thus, evidence is now increasing that the factors central to power transition theory’s ability to predict interstate war also help predict intrastate wars.

  • Benson, Michelle, and Jacek Kugler. “Power Parity, Democracy, and the Severity of Internal Violence.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 42.2 (April 1998): 169–209.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002798042002004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors find that incidences of internal violence and death are higher under conditions of resource parity and lack of democracy. This is the first empirical application of power transition theory to civil conflict. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Cederman, Lars-Erik, Halvard Buhaug, and Jan Rød. “Ethno-nationalist Dyads and Civil War: A GIS-Based Analysis.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 53.4 (August 2009a): 496–525.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002709336455Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors add a spatial component to civil conflict research, finding that the likelihood of conflict increases for peripheral groups when their population size approaches that of the central ethnic group in power. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Cederman, Lars-Erik, Luc Girardin, and Kristian Skrede Gleditsch. “Ethnonationalist Triads: Assessing the Influence of Kin Groups on Civil Wars.” World Politics 61.3 (2009b): 403–437.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0043887109000148Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors incorporate transnational links among ethnic groups in their study of civil conflict between ethnic groups and central governments. They find that conflict is increased when excluded ethnic groups have large kinship ties in neighboring countries, as the groups can mobilize more resources. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Cederman, Lars-Erik, Andreas Wimmer, and Brian Min. “Why Do Ethnic Groups Rebel? New Data and Analysis.” World Politics 62.1 (2010): 87–119.

    DOI: 10.1017/s0043887109990219Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This research finds that ethnic groups are more likely to initiate conflict with the government if they are excluded from state power, they are easily mobilizable, and they have experienced conflict previously. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Cunningham, David, Kristian Gleditsch, and Idean Salehyan. “Dyadic Interactions and Civil War Duration.” University of Essex, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors determine that stronger rebels usually lead to shorter wars, conflicts with weak rebels are prolonged if rebels occupy the periphery, and that conflicts will be of shorter duration when insurgents have substitute means of political violence.

    Find this resource:

  • Koubi, Vally, Tadeusz Kugler, Jacek Kugler, Tobias Bohmelt, and Piotr Zagorowski. “Power Transition, Environmental Degradation, and Civil Conflict.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the European Political Science Association’s 1st Annual Convention, Dublin, Ireland, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors explore the connection between environmental changes and the emergence of civil war. Environmental damage can foster migration patterns to new locales, where the influx of migrants can create parity with existing population groups and increase the likelihood of civil conflict initiation.

    Find this resource:

  • Lemke, Douglas. “Power Politics and Wars without States.” American Journal of Political Science 52.4 (October 2008): 774–786.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00342.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In Lemke’s study, attitudes about the status quo are defined as opinions about how to unify a territory into a single state—whether to unify at all, to unify with a centralized single government, or to unify under a federal structure. In order to predict civil war onset, Lemke employs data about groups before they become rebels as well as for groups that chose not to become rebels at all. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Lemke, Douglas. “De Facto States in World Politics.” National Science Foundation, Division of Social and Economic Sciences Award Number 1123629 (July 2011).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    To predict the onset of civil war, Lemke employs data about groups before they become rebels as well as for groups that choose not to become rebels at all. This is accomplished through collection of a data set of all de facto states—political groups controlling territory and possessing military resources. Power is measured by population, and status quo evaluations reflect attitudes toward integration within a single state.

    Find this resource:

  • Toft, Monica Duffy. “Population Shifts and Civil War: A Test of Power Transition Theory.” International Interactions 33.3 (July 2007): 243–269.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050620701449025Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Toft finds that changes toward parity in the division of ethnic group populations within a state make civil war more likely.

    Find this resource:

Recovery

The recovery period after a war has a significant impact on a society. Kugler 1973, Organski and Kugler 1977, and Organski and Kugler 1980 (cited in General Overviews) show that developed nations recover from major wars like a phoenix rising from its ashes. They regain their overall population, productivity, and power within one generation. Populations may be severely depleted during war, but postwar baby booms manage to replace the lost generation. Yet, the composition of the population is dramatically altered, generating lasting variability in cohorts that subsequently affect education, employment, and retirement patterns (Kugler and Kugler 2010). The economic performance of active belligerents does not differ much from that of nonbelligerents. In the short term, a clear difference is found between winning and losing, but within one generation that difference disappears. Consistent with Solow’s neoclassic growth model, nations devastated by war recover thanks to a more effective utilization of inexpensive labor given existing technology, even with minimal investment. This optimistic view of recovery has been challenged in analysis of war consequences in less- and least-developed societies where the costs of war are found to persist and in many cases lead to a poverty trap that devastates societies long after the end of conflict. This restatement of war costs is based on the overlapping generations (OLG) perspective advanced by Samuelson in 1956 (in Robert M. Solow, “A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth,” Quarterly Journal of Economics [1956]: 70 [1]: 65–94) and Lucas in 1988 (Robert E. Lucas, “On the Mechanics of Economic Development,” Journal of Monetary Economics [1988]: 22:3–42) and extended into the political arena in Feng, et al. 2000. The new argument incorporates, in part, the early Solow results that show that relatively affluent nations will recover rapidly from the ravages of war (or natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, or floods) because capital losses will accelerate the rate of growth in such societies thanks to technology, human capital, foreign and domestic investment, and the political capacity of the government. Foreign aid is not the key to recovery; rather, the prewar performance of a society largely determines the extent of recovery. Japan, Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union recovered following each of the world wars (Organski and Kugler 1977, Organski and Kugler 1980, Arbetman 1996), as did South Korea and Vietnam following severe regional wars. This pattern is not universal, as nonrecovery takes place when a less- or least-developed society is so devastated by war that it falls into the poverty trap. Instead of recovering after the conflict, these societies continue their descent into poverty as population growth exceeds the growth rate of productivity.

  • Arbetman, Marina. “The Consequences of the American Civil War.” In Parity and War: Evaluations and Extensions of the War Ledger. Edited by Jacek Kugler and Douglas Lemke, 211–228. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Arbetman shows that the American Civil War follows the same patterns of rapid recovery (phoenix factor) identified by Kugler and Organski following the world wars.

    Find this resource:

  • Feng, Yi, Jacek Kugler, and Paul Zak. “The Politics of Fertility and Economic Development.” International Studies Quarterly 44.4 (December 2000): 667–693.

    DOI: 10.1111/0020-8833.00176Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors introduce the POFED model (politics of fertility and economic development) that dynamically links the effects of politics, economics, growth, and population change. Economic development is improved when government’s increase their political capacity. Consequently, the rise in human and physical capital that accumulates from development reduces fertility rates. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Kugler, Jacek. “The Consequences of War: Fluctiations in National Capabilities Following Major Wars, 1880–1970.” PhD diss., University of Michigan, 1973.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Introduces the “phoenix factor,” the empirical observation that postwar recovery replaces war losses within one generation. This work set the stage for empirical research on this topic.

    Find this resource:

  • Kugler, Tadeusz, and Jacek Kugler. “Political Demography.” In International Studies Compendium. Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Online Library, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444336597.2010.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This work is a summary of the political implications that fertility, mortality, and migration have on political dynamics. The authors note that economic development is increased when demographic transitions toward lower fertility rates are combined with increased political capacity through public policies.

    Find this resource:

  • Organski, A. F. K., and Jacek Kugler. “The Costs of Major Wars: The Phoenix Factor.” American Political Science Review 71.4 (December 1977): 1347–1366.

    DOI: 10.2307/1961484Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors examine recovery patterns after World Wars I and II, and determine that postwar recovery in industrialized societies is recuperated within twenty years after the war’s end. For mature economies, the short-term devastation of major conflict is not long term in nature. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Monetary Implications

Power transition arguments provide insights beyond conflict and cooperation. One of the key elements that allows a dominant nation to affect international interactions is control over the lead global currency. Britain was powerful not only because its navy ruled the sea, but also because the British pound remained the preferred international currency until the end of World War II. The Bretton Woods System, created in 1944, ushered in a system of monetary management that established new rules for commercial and financial relations among the world’s major states. This negotiated new order was intended to govern monetary relations among all nations. Not surprisingly, however, the US dollar emerged as the global currency used in most international transactions among noncommunist states. The dollar replaced the pound because America’s economy was sufficiently strong so that it could exercise the discipline necessary to retain the dollar as the global anchor currency (with an ounce of gold set at a value of $35), providing a firm foundation for the fixed exchange-rate regime central to Bretton Woods. The United States was the least-damaged global economy, and thus it was the initial primary contributor to the World Bank tasked with reconstructing devastated European economies. The dollar’s overtaking of the pound in international importance coincided with American ascension to the summit of the international power pyramid. The emergence today of the euro within the European Union provides a potential competitor, along with limited scope for the British pound that still remains in use, particularly among Commonwealth countries. Power transition posits that the dominant nation will seek to control the international norms by securing monetary and trade transactions internationally. Therefore, it is anticipated that with the rise of China, the dollar will have to share preeminence with other currencies. This is precisely what Mundell 1961 argues after tracing the evolution of international currency after Bretton Woods. The author concludes that there will be a movement away from the dollar as the most commonly used form of international currency beyond 2020, just prior to the anticipated power transition. In this new world, the dollar remains a major currency along with the euro and China’s RMB. This representation has a very close connection to the anticipated power transitions in the global system. As China rises, both the dollar and the euro areas are likely to shrink, and a mixed currency based on these three main currencies could replace the single dollar system now in place (Mundell 2009).

  • Mundell, Robert. “A Theory of Optimum Currency Areas.” American Economic Review 51.4 (September 1961): 657–665.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Mundell describes an optimal currency area as balancing the need for high internal-factor mobility with reduced transaction costs. His structures suggest financial transitions similar to power transitions in the monetary arena. This work earned for him the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Mundell, Robert. “Mexico: Perspectives on Economic Development.” In Mexico and the World. Comparative Perspective for the Study of Development. Edited by David Torres and Barbara Mungaray, 13–20. Mexicali, Mexico: Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A recent application of the 1961 model described in Mundell 1961.

    Find this resource:

Integration

In addition to conflict dynamics, power transition theory offers expectations regarding interstate integration. The process of integration is also consistent with power transition expectations (Efird, et al. 2003; Genna and Hiroi 2004; Yeşilada, et al. 2006). Efird, et al. 2003 demonstrates that outcomes that lead to conflict or cooperation are part of the same process. Instead of accounting only for severe conflicts—as realist theories do, and separately for integration, as neo-liberals do—this power transition specification accounts for cooperation and conflict across both global and regional hierarchies. Consistent with the hegemonic stability argument in Kindleberger 1973 and Keohane 1984 (cited under Hierarchy) that a large power is needed to cover the costs of cooperation, the empirical work on power transition shows that satisfaction is key. Satisfaction leads to cooperation, which, in some circumstances, encourages integration. This makes the role of the satisfied dominant state critical in this process of creating the conditions for peace. The dominant power has many management responsibilities, but at the top of its list is the spread and deepening of satisfaction.

  • Efird, Brian, Jacek Kugler, and Gaspare Genna. “From War to Integration: Generalizing the Dynamic of Power Transitions.” International Interactions 29.4 (2003): 293–313.

    DOI: 10.1080/714950654Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors generalize the power transition specification while also adding regional power constraints to account for conflict as well as integration. Using the model, the authors provide forecasts that show the range of conflict and cooperation for select great powers.

    Find this resource:

  • Genna, Gaspare, and Taeko Hiroi. “Power Preponderance and Domestic Politics: Explaining Regional Economic Integration in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1960–1997.” International Interactions 30.2 (2004): 143–164.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050620490453450Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors determine that increases in regional integration in Latin America and the Caribbean (ANCOM, CACM/SICA, CARICOM, and MERCOSUR/MERCOSUL) occur during periods of relative power asymmetries among pairs of countries, when mutual trade interests are high and when alliance portfolios are similar. These findings are consistent with power transition expectations advanced in Tammen, et al. 2000 (cited under Asian Challenge).

    Find this resource:

  • Kindleberger, Charles. The World in Depression, 1929–1939. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author develops a theoretical structure of hegemonic control of economic interaction; this is akin to the dynamics of power transition. However, Kindleberger’s reliance on a hegemon is inconsistent with power transition’s view of the dominant power’s role.

    Find this resource:

  • Yeşilada, Birol, Brian Efird, and Peter Noordijk. “Competition among Giants: A Look at How Future Enlargement of the European Union Could Affect Global Power Transition.” International Studies Review 8.4 (December 2006): 607–622.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2486.2006.00629.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors apply power transition dynamics to the European Union, finding that it will fall behind the global power of China and the United States unless Russia and/or Turkey become members. The authors also forecast the Iran-Turkey dyad to have a high probability of conflict; Turkey’s inclusion in the EU would mitigate this by fostering a power imbalance. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Democratic Peace

Power transition can help shed light on the most widely accepted empirical finding in all of the international relations literature: the democratic peace thesis (see the Oxford Bibliographies article on Democracy in World Politics). The democratic peace refers to the observation that no two democracies have ever waged a war against each other. Less extreme presentations of the democratic peace contend that militarized conflict among democracies is very rare. Regardless of which version of the democratic peace we accept, power transition theory can help us understand why democracies live at peace with each other. The empirical evidence in support of democratic peace claims cover the years from 1816 to the present (the limits within which extensive, systematic data about international relations are available). During that time period, the international system’s dominant power was first Britain (until 1945) and then the United States. Both of these dominant powers have been liberal democracies. Power transition contends that the dominant power creates the set of rules and norms to govern the international system reflected by the status quo. Thus, for the past two centuries the rules of the international system have been written by democratic dominant powers. Dominant powers select rules and create and enforce norms that they prefer. They externalize governance characteristics that have been useful to them domestically. Thus, democratic dominant powers have created international political organizations based on voting and consensus. They have built alliance networks that are explicitly defensive in nature. And when it comes to international economic interactions, they have favored solutions that leave a lot of power over outcomes in the hands of lightly regulated markets. The United Kingdom and the United States have institutionalized a status quo with these characteristics because voting, defensive military postures, and market exchanges work for them. They have prospered under these rules and so externalize them. Yet, just as the United Kingdom and the United States benefit from such interactions, so too have other liberal democracies. Thus, democracies other than the dominant states benefit from the international status quo and wish to see it maintained. Satisfied states do not fight with each other, and thus power transition theory explains the democratic peace by identifying it as a subset of the peace shared among satisfied states. An empirical test of this claim was reported in Lemke and Reed 1996, where a dyad composed of satisfied states (as indicated by the alliance similarity measure described above) is less likely to experience militarized conflict than is a dyad composed of two democracies. This study supports the observation that the democratic peace is a subset of the satisfied peace.

  • Lemke, Douglas, and William Reed. “Regime Type and Status Quo Evaluations: Power Transitions and the Democratic Peace Proposition.” International Interactions 22.2 (1996): 143–164.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050629608434886Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors statistically analyze the effect of joint democracy and joint status quo satisfaction of dyads on the probability of militarized disputes. The sample covers the past two centuries, and the authors find that “joint satisfaction” is an empirically more potent predictor of peace than is “joint democracy.” Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Asian Challenge

Long-range probabilistic forecasting represents an important value of the power transition approach. The theory provides a decades-long perspective that allows policy makers to develop and deploy strategies designed to head off impending crises. The interval of the pretransition is critically important to both sides as this is the only period when satisfaction can be managed and potential disputes resolved prior to war. Organski 1968 (cited under General Overviews) originally anticipated that China’s overtaking of the United States would be the next major transition. In subsequent analysis (Kugler and Tammen 2004, Tammen and Kugler 2005, Tammen and Kugler 2006, Kugler and Tammen 2008, Kugler, et al. 2012), given current growth patterns, China is expected to edge out the United States in aggregate productivity by 2025, if not before then. India is expected to follow China’s rise with a one- or two-decade lag. As these Asian giants develop, two concurrent transitions will take place. At the global level, the key overtaking will be between China and the United States. This is a critical transition because, for the first time, a far-less-productive society will match and eventually overtake the leading developed society. The issue of war versus peace will hinge upon satisfaction, and satisfaction may turn on the perceptions of average Chinese workers. The number of potential disagreements about how to organize the international system is substantial, but not complicated at present by ideology or territory (Taiwan is a territorial issue from China’s perspective, but not from that of the United States). Currently, there are no US-PRC disagreements over trade, fiscal and monetary policies, patents, the legal system, human rights, and certain foreign policy issues substantial enough to provoke war. Nevertheless, reconciliation of these issues will be critical as China gains power and the United States declines relatively. Previous power transition work suggested that the creation of a large super bloc, to include the EU, the United States, and India and perhaps even key regional leaders (Tammen, et al. 2000, chapter 8) would help offset the risk of war associated with China’s rise. Other management techniques have been explored, including solutions to the Taiwan problem and creation of an alliance composed of the United States, India, Russia, and the EU if the world was faced with a dissatisfied, hostile China that wished to change the international system (Tammen, et al. 2000, chapter 7). Both the United States and China must use the next two decades wisely in order to avoid creating irresolvable points of contention. The alternative, masked by the failure to address these issues today and tomorrow, is the prospect of a devastating conflict by midcentury.

  • Kugler, Jacek, and Ronald Tammen. “Regional Challenge: China’s Rise to Power.” In The Asia-Pacific: A Region in Transition. Edited by James Rolfe, 33–53. Honolulu, HI: Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This chapter lays out the power transition framework, and offers a long-term forecast for the prospects of conflict and cooperation between the United States and China. Policy implications are discussed, namely, that the United States should promote formal security cooperation with Russia, India, China, and the European Union through the expansion of NATO into eastern Europe and Asia.

    Find this resource:

  • Kugler, Jacek, and Ronald L. Tammen. “Implications of Asia’s Rise to Global Status.” In Systemic Transitions: Past, Present, and Future. Edited by William R. Thompson, 161–186. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article summarizes the power transition perspective on the rise of Asia and its impact on the United States. The key determinant of peace in the 21st century is the degree of satisfaction by the rising Asian powers.

    Find this resource:

  • Kugler, Jacek, Ronald L. Tammen, and John Thomas. “Global Transitions.” In Debating a Post-American World: What Lies Ahead? Edited by Sean Clark and Sabrina Hoque, 30–36. New York: Routledge, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article evaluates the ascent of Asia, and the possible consequences for international and regional conflicts resulting from anticipated power overtakings at mid-century and beyond.

    Find this resource:

  • Tammen, Ronald L., and Jacek Kugler. “The Chinese Dilemma: Satisfied or Dissatisfied.” Science in International Politics and Research 1.3 (September 2005): 1–20.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article, written in Chinese, discusses the specific issue of whether or not a resurgent China will be satisfied or dissatisfied in the coming decades.

    Find this resource:

  • Tammen, Ronald L., and Jacek Kugler. “Power Transition and China-US Conflicts.” Chinese Journal of International Politics 1.1 (2006): 35–55.

    DOI: 10.1093/cjip/pol003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors advocate a renewed emphasis on Asia as the focal point of international relations, and they argue that a dissatisfied China constitutes the most significant looming threat to international peace. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Tammen, Ronald, Jacek Kugler, and Douglas Lemke, et al. Power Transitions: Strategies for the 21st Century. New York: Chatham House, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors argue that if China proves to be dissatisfied in its rise, a super bloc of the United States, the European Union, India, and Russia should be encouraged to foster power disparity and mitigate the probability of global war.

    Find this resource:

LAST MODIFIED: 07/24/2012

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199743292-0038

back to top

Article

Up

Down