Systemic Politics and the Origins of Great Power Conflict

Year
2008
Type(s)
Author(s)
Braumoeller, Bear F.
Source
American Political Science Review, 102(01): 77-93, 2008
Url
BibTeX
BibTeX

Systemic theories of international politics rarely predict conflict short of cataclysmic systemic wars, and dyadic theories of conflict lack systemic perspective. This article attempts to bridge the gap by introducing a two-step theory of conflict among Great Powers. In the first stage, states engage in a dynamic, ongoing process of managing the international system, which inevitably produces tensions among them. In the second stage, relative levels of security-related activity determine how and when those tensions erupt into disputes. A test of the theory on Great Power conflicts from the nineteenth century supports the argument and, moreover, favors the deterrence model over the spiral model as a proximate explanation of conflict in the second stage.