chapter  9
29 Pages

Power play

Mediation in symmetric and asymmetric international crises
ByDavid Quinn, Jonathan Wilkenfeld, Kathleen Smarick, Victor Asal

International relations scholars have long focused on power relations among nations as an explanatory factor for a wide variety of state behaviors, including alliance formation, strategic interactions and negotiation strategies. Power transition theorists have argued that war is most likely when power is equally distributed among nations or, more precisely, when the power of the challenger approaches – or begins to exceed – that of its opponent (Organski, 1968; Organski and Kugler, 1980; Kugler and Lemke, 1996). Balance-of-power theorists, on the other hand, have argued that equality of power among nations diminishes the chance of war, as uncertainty about outcomes caused by approximate power parity leads actors to be more cautious (Claude, 1962; Wright, 1965). The research presented here considers relative power not as a cause of conflict, as these previous studies have done, but as a factor relevant to conflict resolution efforts.