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Bring the Pain

Title: Bring the Pain: Three Essays on the Influence of Military Capabilities on International Conflict.
Name(s): Crisher, Brian Benjamin, author
Souva, Mark A., professor directing dissertation
Grant, Jonathan A., 1963-, university representative
Moore, William H., III, committee member
Ehrlich, Sean D., committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, degree granting college
Department of Political Science, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2015
Publisher: Florida State University
Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (99 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This dissertation consists of three individual studies that examine the influence of military capabilities on international conflict. Chapter 2 examines the influence of naval power on non-contiguous hostile disputes. I present a unique argument that links absolute naval power to international conflict through uncertainty of resolve and fears about future threats. Increasing a state's naval power increases the amount of issues they will dispute. Yet these issues are likely to be of low salience. Because the issues are of low salience defenders will be uncertain about the resolve of challengers. Additionally, because of the increase in naval power, defenders will fear future threats. Defenders that fear future threats are more likely to resist coercive threats. As such, defenders have incentives to bargain aggressively against challengers. In this case, we should be more likely to observe military disputes as challengers look to signal their resolve. Utilizing a new data set of naval power, I show that as states acquire naval strength they are more likely to initiate non-contiguous hostile disputes. Additionally, I find that contrary to realist and expected utility theory expectations, relative naval power has little influence on hostile dispute initiation. The findings have implications for the future actions of states whose naval strength is growing. Chapter 3 examines the influence of military parity on international conflict. Studies of power parity and conflict implicitly assume all balanced dyads are created equal. However, variation exists within the capabilities of the states in these particular dyads. I address the question of what affects the likelihood of conflict onset within relatively balanced dyads. I argue uncertainty – in particular the uncertainty of the expected costs of conflict – determines the likelihood of conflict among these dyads. More uncertainty of costs means a greater likelihood of miscalculation leading to bargaining errors. First, I argue as an opponent's capabilities increase, uncertainty of costs increase and the likelihood of conflict increases. Second, military action serves a purpose in bargaining and can help reduce uncertainty by signaling a state's willingness to inflict and endure costs in order to gain a better settlement. Third, information transmission is likely to be effective only when states have the capability to inflict significant costs. As such, while greater capabilities will lead to a high likelihood of conflict onset, they also lead to a reduced likelihood of conflict escalation. The testing of non-directed dyads from 1946 to 2001 supports the theory's implications. Chapter 4 examines what influences the likelihood of a war ending with an absolute outcome. Past work has focused on understanding questions about war outcomes in-terms of win, lose, or draw (Slantchev, 2004; Bennett and Stam, 1998; Stam, 1998). Yet little-to-no attention has been paid to understanding why some wars end with one side losing their ability to resist rather than a limited negotiated settlement. Here I present one of the first empirical tests for determining the likelihood of a war ending with an absolute outcome. I argue that two conditions increase the likelihood of a war reaching an absolute outcome. The difficulty and costs involve mean that a state must have the willingness and capabilities to impose such an outcome. Wars where credible commitment concerns are present gives the willingness while asymmetric power gives the capabilities to pursue an absolute outcome. The contribution of this study is to move beyond the questions of limited war outcomes to helping us understand war at its most punishing phase. Such an understanding can help identify which wars have the potential for reaching extremes, allowing the international community to attempt other solutions.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-9580 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Political Science in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Summer Semester 2015.
Date of Defense: June 25, 2015.
Keywords: Absolute War, Balanced Dyads, International Conflict, Naval Power
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Mark Souva, Professor Directing Dissertation; Jonathan Grant, University Representative; William Moore, Committee Member; Sean Ehrlich, Committee Member.
Subject(s): International relations
Political science
Study and teaching
Persistent Link to This Record:
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Host Institution: FSU

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Crisher, B. B. (2015). Bring the Pain: Three Essays on the Influence of Military Capabilities on International Conflict. Retrieved from