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Transition ScenariosChina and the United States in the Twenty-First Century$
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David P. Rapkin and William R. Thompson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226040332

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226040509.001.0001

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Constraints on Transition Conflict

Constraints on Transition Conflict

(p.108) Chapter Six Constraints on Transition Conflict
Transition Scenarios

David P. Rapkin

William R. Thompson

University of Chicago Press

Conflict arenas in the past possessed far fewer constraints on conflict escalation than characterize the present and, presumably, the future. Four types of constraints are focused upon: democratic peace, economic interdependence, international organizations, and nuclear deterrence. Our question is how, and to what extent, are these factors relevant to a situation involving a rising China and a declining United States. We find that their applicability varies. Given a persistently authoritarian China, joint democracy is not likely to be a major factor. Nuclear deterrence is based more on beliefs than empirical evidence. Economic interdependence provides a better fit but the nature of industrialized productivity and marketing tends to generate mixed effects – some constraining while others inducing conflict. Of the four, international organizations seem least likely to play much of a role in a United States-China face-off.

Keywords:   constraints, democratic peace, economic interdependence, international organizations, nuclear deterrence

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