Taking Strategic Interactions Seriously: A Rationalist Approach to Power Transition Theory

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McGill University (Canada), 2007 - 112 pages
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This study addresses the mechanisms and consequences of shifts and transitions at the apex of the international hierarchy of power. It begins with the assessment that in spite of recent advances, progress in this area has been limited by lack of theoretical consistency and rigor. To remedy this problem, a game-theoretic model is developed which conceives of power shifts as transitions in preferences and learning processes. The model is then tested against the case of the pre-World War I British-German power shift. Findings provide new insight into the dynamics of prewar European diplomacy, and suggest that the war fundamentally resulted from a German challenge to the British-led international order. As regards the current Sino-American power shift, this study suggests that relations between China and the U.S. are headed towards a Cold War-like pattern, the severity of which could be alleviated by a successful U.S. policy of engagement towards Beijing.

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