Minor Powers Confronting Major Powers: A Comparative Examination of the Conditions Facilitating Decisions to go to War

Bobic, Marinko (2016) Minor Powers Confronting Major Powers: A Comparative Examination of the Conditions Facilitating Decisions to go to War. PhD thesis, University of Trento, VU University Amsterdam, University of Belgrade.

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The political landscape of the world is constituted by states of varying degrees of influence and capability. Major powers have immense resources at their disposal, while minor powers are often constrained in terms of structure and material. Thus, for minor powers, engaging in conventional wars against much larger and more powerful states is potentially ruinous to their economies and endangers their political survival. While researchers have explored interstate asymmetric conflicts involving major and middle powers, this project specifically analyzes asymmetric conflicts between minor and major powers, focusing on the former, and the post Cold-war period. This research aims to analyze conditions, highlighted by theories on war, under which minor powers go to war challenging major powers. This research employs multiple theories, thereby establishing an innovative, pluri-theoretical framework. This theoretical framework works well with a mixed-methods approach, a medium-N research design (crisp set methodology in Qualitative Comparative Analysis), and three comparative case studies: Iraq (1990), Moldova (1992) and Serbia (1999). This dissertation finds that by looking through the lenses of multiple theories, one can observe a more nuanced relationship between conditions faced by minor powers in militarized disputes and their decisions to go to war against a major power. First, different combinations of conditions can result in conflict. Second, domestic crisis, not external threat, tends to be of primary concern to minor powers. Third, minor powers enter a war to win based on very modest expectations. Fourth, minor powers of autocratic regime type can also misperceive the situation through anomalous beliefs. The importance of the study stems from the observation that minor powers still fight conventional asymmetric wars, despite growing military capabilities of major powers. Understanding the risks, minor powers gamble, hoping to keep their political benefits. This study enhances our understanding of conditions shaping the occurrence of asymmetric conflict.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:28
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/04 SCIENZA POLITICA
Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/06 STORIA DELLE RELAZIONI INTERNAZIONALI
Uncontrolled Keywords:asymmetric conflict; minor powers; qualitative comparative analysis; foreign policy
Funders:Fondazione Bruno Kessler
Repository Staff approval on:06 Jun 2016 10:12

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