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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Defeating systemic challengers: Coordination and the balance of power theory
by Ribat, Jean-Bertrand, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2014, 579; 3620162
Abstract (Summary)

Using historical case studies I demonstrate that in the post-1494 European states-system, alliances could be formed to address the problem created by the presence of a potential hegemon only if there was a great power to coordinate and finance opposition to the challenger. This state's undertakings, as coordinator and financier, played a necessary but not sufficient role providing the means needed to address the collective action problem which, most of the times, interfered with the formation of an alliance. Not all states can fulfill the function of systemic coordinator. Only a great power with high levels of wealth and security, with spare resources to spend on allies, and with its political elite sharing the same foreign policy's goal--to contain or defeat the challenger--can be a coordinating state. It was only when there was an active coordinator in the European system that alliances were formed to deal with the destabilizing presence of a systemic challenger. Yet, the mere presence of an alliance never guaranteed that the challenger would not win. It was only when there was a coordinator with the capacity to provide directly and indirectly high amounts of additional-military-capacity that the alliance was successful. The amount of additional-military-capacity available is the result of the interaction of two independent variables, the amount of spare resources used by the leader of the coordinating state, and this leader's level of skills. The two-step model I build goes against the deterministic element located at the heart of the balance of power theory. Alliances were not necessarily formed and victorious as the theory states. It was the presence of a coordinator which made this double outcome possible. With the addition of the coordinator model, the balance of power theory becomes a powerful analytical tool at the disposal of IR specialists and statesmen.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Thompson, William R.
Commitee: Craiutu, Aurelian, Cullather, Nick, Rasler, Karen A.
School: Indiana University
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: European history, International Relations, Political science
Keywords: Alliance formation, Balance of power, Coordination, Hegemon, Interstate relations, Systemic challenger
Publication Number: 3620162
ISBN: 978-1-303-89879-2
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