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Essays Relating to the Dynamics of Power and Policy Differences between States in the International System

dc.creatorHill, Ryan Lee 2024
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation consists of three papers related to the differences in power {power gap} and policy preferences {alignment gap} between states in the international system. The first paper considers the issue of moral hazard that can arise in asymmetric alliances when both the power gap and the alignment gap between the two partners are significant. ln this paper; I demonstrate that the stronger ally in the relationship can manage the alliance to maintain its ideal interests by inducing costs on its protege, conditional on conflict initiation, much like a deductible in insurance terms. The second paper takes a broader view of the power and alignment gap implications, assessing their impact on international system structure. ln this paper, I argue that polarity, conventionally defined by the number of polar powers in the system, only accounts for the power gap between states, limiting the theoretical mechanisms used to explain state behavior. I propose a new structural concept and measure that captures both the capability and desire of major powers to oppose one another. I define this new measure, "polar tension", as the degree to which international policy space is contested. The implicit threat generated by this tension presents a new mechanism for interpreting state behavior. The third paper assesses the effects of polar tension on asymmetric alliances. I find that as polar tension rises, the protege states' alignment with its major power protectorate increases. The level of alignment depends on the prot6gd's prioritization of the common general interests, which corresponds with its selection into a bilateral or multilateral alliance. l find that states in multilateral alliances increase alignment as polar tension increases, while those in bilateral alliances do not. The dynamics associated with the power and alignment gap between nations drive behaviors at the state-to-state and system levels. By assessing these forces, this dissertation contributes to the rich literature on asymmetric alliances and international system structure, while presenting relevant international policy implications.
dc.subjectAsymmetric alliance, International System Structure, Polarity, Moral Hazard
dc.titleEssays Relating to the Dynamics of Power and Policy Differences between States in the International System
dc.type.materialtext Science University Graduate School
dc.contributor.committeeChairBenson, Brett V.

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