Winning a race with no finish line : assessing the strategy of interstate competition
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This dissertation offers a framework for understanding the strategies of states engaged in competition for regional hegemony. Although international relations literature refers extensively to such competition and obliquely to states’ strategies, to date little has been done to show how states’ strategies in such competition may be analyzed. Drawing on a variety of strategic literature, this dissertation synthesizes a theoretical approach to analyzing the strategies of states engaged in regional security competition. Employing insights drawn from business strategy, this dissertation argues for an essentially asymmetric understanding of fundamental policy goals for states engaged in competition for regional hegemony, with one state attempting to maintain a dominant position and another attempting, by focusing limited resources, to supplant it. The competition is understood metaphorically (based on an anecdote from the end of the Cold War) as a “race with no finish line,” with the reigning hegemon attempting to extend the race and the challenger attempting to create a finish line and cross it. With homage to realism, liberalism, and constructivism, possible state goals are categorized as belonging to three realms: security, welfare, and intangible goals. These are used as metrics for a state’s success or failure in any given competitive scenario, as well as the resources at its disposal. Drawing on military strategic literature, this thesis then applies decision-cycle analysis to state competitive behavior. The conclusions from this analysis are then synthesized into a framework for analysis of similar regional competitive scenarios, the first such framework yet devised for such purposes. A case study: the “Dreadnought Race” between Britain and Germany prior to World War One, is then examined, in which states’ performance is analyzed in the competitive scenario in light of the above strategic precepts.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 5th December 2022
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