Power, Proximity, and Democracy: Geopolitical Competition in the International System

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Authors Jonathan Markowitz, Christopher J. Fariss
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Why do only some powerful states choose to develop power projection capabilities? To answer this question, we test the proposition that states choose to develop power projection capabilities when they face a competitive geopolitical environment. This proposition is derived from our theory, which is used to construct a new measure of the level of geopolitical competition that every state in the system faces. This measure incorporates each state’s relative geographic position to every other state in the international system, the relative amount of economic power of those other states, and the degree to which their interests are compatible. We then apply this unique country-year measure to test the proposition that competitive environments are associated with the development of power projection capabilities, as measured by the tonnage of naval ships maintained by each country in each year. We demonstrate that our measure helps explain the degree to which states choose to invest in power projection capabilities. This provides an explanation for why the world has been economically multipolar, but military unipolar, for the past quarter century, and why this might change in the future, as rising powers with incompatible interests are increasing their investment in power projection capabilities.
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language R

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