(Babylonian) lions, (Asian) tigers, and (Russian) bears: A statistical test of three rivalrous paths to conflict

Paul A. Kowert, Cameron G. Thies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Structural theories of international relations anticipate no meaningful differences of kind, as opposed to capabilities, among states. Empirical investigations of enduring and strategic rivalries hint at a distinction, however, between states that see themselves as potential rivals and those that do not. Constructivists go further, suggesting that the roles adopted by states during their interactions are the result of varying underlying images of threat. This paper develops the theoretical claim that three different images of threat may produce distinct kinds of rivalry and thereby three paths to militarised interstate conflict. Each image of threat is rooted in a different normative context: strategic threats are associated with violations of the enforcement of Hobbesian cooperative security arrangements; competitive threats are associated with violations of fairness or reasonableness standards in Lockean exchange relationships; and institutional threats are associated with violations of the basis for commitment to Kantian communities of peace. A logistic regression analysis of Correlates of War data, combined with other data relevant to the three threat images, provide empirical support for each of these rivalrous paths to conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)406-433
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Correlates of War
  • conflict
  • constructivism
  • foreign policy images
  • rivalry
  • threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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