Pressures and Opportunities: The Roots of Revisionism and Status-quo Seeking

  • Jason W. Davidson


Changes in states’ relative power provide the starting point for this book’s explanation of revisionism and status-quo seeking. Rising states often become revisionists and declining states frequently become status-quo seekers. However, in order to answer the book’s core question—under what conditions does rising power lead to revisionism and under what conditions does declining power lead to status-quo seeking?—we need more specific claims. I argue that the domestic and international pressures a state is subject to and the opportunities it faces combine to determine whether the state will or will not become revisionist or status-quo seeking. I argue that none of these three factors is sufficient in isolation to lead rising states to revisionism or to cause declining states to adopt status-quo goals. Domestic- and internationallevel pressures must coexist with the ability to alleviate them in order for rising states to become revisionists and declining states to become status-quo seekers.


Foreign Policy Domestic Politics Domestic Level External Affair Domestic Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Ibid., xxiii. For a similar argument see Joseph Lepgold, The Declining Hegemon: The United States and European Defense, 1960–1990 (New York: Praeger, 1990), 51.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    For a review see Woosang Kim, “Power Transitions and Great Power War From Westphalia to Waterloo,” World Politics 45, no. 2 (October 1992): 153–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 9.
    Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 10. See also Find, “Increasing Relative Power and Foreign Policy,” 49–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 22.
    John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W.W. Norton, 2001), 2.Google Scholar
  5. 27.
    For a similar critique see Glenn H. Snyder, “Mearsheimer’s World-Offensive Realism and the Struggle for Security,” International Security 27, no. 1 (Summer 2002): 158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 30.
    Ibid., 33, 34. See also Fareed Zakaria, “Realism and Domestic Politics: A Review Essay,” International Security 17, no. 1 (Summer 1992).Google Scholar
  7. 38.
    Alan C. Lamborn, The Price of Power: Risk and Foreign Policy in Britain, France, and Germany (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1991). See also Find, “Increasing Relative Power and Foreign Policy.”Google Scholar
  8. 39.
    Arie M. Kacowicz, Zones of Peace in the Third World: South America and West Africa in Comparative Perspective (Albany: SUNY Press, 1999), 48.Google Scholar
  9. 48.
    See Jack S. Levy, “Learning and Foreign Policy: Sweeping a Conceptual Minefield,” International Organization 48, no. 2 (Spring 1994): 279–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 49.
    See James D. Morrow, Game Theory for Political Scientists (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 163–66. Similarly, declining states are assumed to “learn” that a decline in power means that they are able to do less.Google Scholar
  11. 52.
    For a discussion of the literature on this definition see David A. Baldwin, “Power Analysis and World Politics,” World Politics 31 (1979): 163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. See also Lewis Snider, “Identifying the Elements of State Power,” Comparative Political Studies 20, no. 3 (October, 1987): 320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 58.
    For recent statements on liberal theory in international relations see Andrew Moravcsik, “Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics,” International Organization 51, no. 4 (Autumn 1997): 513–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. See also Helen Milner, “Rationalizing Politics: The Emerging Synthesis of International, American, and Comparative Politics,” International Organization 52, no. 4 (Autumn 1998): 767–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 59.
    Kevin Narizny, “Both Guns and Butter, or Neither: Class Interests in the Political Economy of Rearmament,” American Political Science Review 97, no. 2 (May 2003): 203–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Etel Solingen, Regional Orders at Century’s Dawn: Global and Domestic Influences on Grand Strategy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  17. 60.
    See also Helen Milner, Resisting Protectionism: Global Industries and the Politics of International Trade (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988).Google Scholar
  18. 61.
    See Stephen Van Evera, “Hypotheses on Nationalism and War,” International Security 18, no. 4 (Spring 1994): 6.Google Scholar
  19. For a treatment of nationalist groups somewhat similar to the one here see James G. Kellas, The Politics of Nationalism and Ethnicity, 2nd ed. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  20. 64.
    Peter Trubowitz, Defining the National Interest: Conflict and Change in American Foreign Policy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998)Google Scholar
  21. Benjamin O. Fordham, “Economic Interests, Party, and Ideology in Early Cold War Era U.S. Foreign Policy,” International Organization 152, no. 2 (Spring 1998): 359–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 67.
    See, among others, Robert A. Dahl, Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961), 226–27Google Scholar
  23. Stephen Krasner, Defending the National Interest: Raw Materials Investments and U.S. Foreign Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 33.Google Scholar
  24. 69.
    See William H. Riker, The Theory of Political Coalitions (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962), 111–13, 120–23.Google Scholar
  25. See also Michael Laver and Norman Schofield, Multiparty Government (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 62–88.Google Scholar
  26. 70.
    For definitions of group see Jeremy J. Richardson, ed., Pressure Groups (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 1.Google Scholar
  27. 71.
    Barry Ames, Political Survival: Politicians and Public Policy in Latin America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 40.Google Scholar
  28. 73.
    See Peter A. Hall and Rosemary C. R. Taylor, “Political Science and the Three New Institutionalisms,” Political Studies 44 (1996): 936–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. The dominant approach to group formation is that of Mancur Olson. See Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965).Google Scholar
  30. 75.
    James E. Alt et al., “The Political Economy of International Trade: Enduring Puzzles and an Agenda for Inquiry,” Comparative Political Studies 29, no. 6 (December 1996): 689–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 78.
    See Waltz, Theory of International Politics, 105. See also Joseph Grieco, “Anarchy and the Limits of Cooperation,” in David A. Baldwin, ed., Neorealism and Neoliberalism: The Contemporary Debate (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 126.Google Scholar
  32. See also Helen Milner, “The Assumption of Anarchy in International Relations: A Critique,” in Baldwin, Neorealism and Neoliberalism, and Alexander Wendt, “Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics,” International Organization 46 (1992): 391–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 79.
    Zbigniew K. Brzezinski, The Soviet Bloc: Unity and Conflict (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1960), 105–38.Google Scholar
  34. 82.
    On the loans and on the alliance see A. J. P. Taylor, The Struggle for the Mastery of Europe, 1848–1918 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1954), 325–45.Google Scholar
  35. 86.
    Chester G. Starr, A History of the Ancient World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 477–93, 648–54.Google Scholar
  36. 95.
    On the security dilemma see John H. Herz, “Idealist Internationalism and the Security Dilemma,” World Politics 2, no. 2 (January 1950): 157–80. For a similar critique see Snyder, “Mearsheimer’s World,” 155–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 104.
    Stephen Krasner, Structural Conflict: The Third World against Global Liberalism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).Google Scholar
  38. 110.
    Alexander George and William Simons, “Findings and Conclusions,” in Alexander George and William Simons, eds., The Limits of Coercive Diplomacy, 2nd ed. (Boulder: Westview, 1997).Google Scholar
  39. 111.
    See Steven Rosen, “War Power and the Willingness to Suffer,” in Bruce M. Russett, ed., Peace, War, and Numbers (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1972),Google Scholar
  40. James D. Morrow, “How Trade Could Affect Conflict,” Journal of Peace Research 36, no. 4 (1999): 481–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 112.
    Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), 35.Google Scholar
  42. 114.
    See Ray S. Cline, World Power Assessment, 1977 (Boulder: Westview, 1977), 141–76.Google Scholar
  43. 116.
    On free riding and alliances see Andrew Bennett, Joseph Lepgold, and Danny Unger, “Burden-Sharing in the Persian Gulf War,” International Organization 48, no. 1 (Winter 1994): 39–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 117.
    See Glenn H. Snyder, Alliance Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), 180–92.Google Scholar
  45. 121.
    Jeffrey W. Legro and Andrew Moravcsik, “Is Anybody Still a Realist?” International Security 24, no. 2 (Fall 1999): 34–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 122.
    Stephen Van Evera, Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), 30, 31.Google Scholar
  47. 124.
    See, e.g., Robert Yin’s discussion of “weaknesses” of different sources of evidence. Robert K. Yin, Case Study Research: Design and Methods, 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1994), 80.Google Scholar
  48. 125.
    On this point see John Lewis Gaddis, “History, Theory, and Common Ground,” International Security 22, no. 1 (Summer 1997): 81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. See also Colin Elman and Mirium Fendius Elman, “Diplomatic History and International Relations Theory,” International Security 22, no. 1 (Summer 1997): 12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 134.
    See Gary King, Robert O. Keohane, and Sidney Verba, Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 119–21.Google Scholar
  51. 136.
    See Harry Eckstein, “Case Study and Theory in Political Science,” in Fred Greenstein and Nelson Polsby, eds., Handbook of Political Science (Reading: Addison Wesley, 1975), 89–90.Google Scholar
  52. 137.
    On this point see Gaddis, “History, Theory, and Common Ground,” 81. See also Ira Katznelson, “Structure and Configuration in Comparative Politics,” in Mark Irving Lichbach and Alan Zuckerman, eds., Comparative Politics: Rationality, Culture, and Structure (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jason W. Davidson 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason W. Davidson

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations