Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Full metadata record
DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorFriedberg, Aaron L-
dc.contributor.authorSharp, Travis Keith-
dc.contributor.otherPublic and International Affairs Department-
dc.description.abstractWhy do great power rivals engage one another militarily, and under what conditions do those engagements occur and succeed? The answers matter greatly to American leaders debating how intensively to interact with China’s increasingly capable military. Unfortunately, few scholars have analyzed military engagement systematically, leaving decision makers without a framework for thinking critically about U.S.-Chinese defense relations. The dissertation fulfills that unmet need by evaluating military-to-military contacts as a policy tool in great power rivalry. The central argument is that military engagement between great power rivals entails greater risks and fewer rewards than commonly believed. The dissertation first develops a typology identifying six reasons why great powers rivals engage militarily using historical examples dating back to the 19th century. Great powers use military engagement either optimistically or cynically to shape the balance of power, compatibility of preferences, and symmetry of information with their rival. The dissertation then introduces a new theory explaining the initiation and success of informal military institutions (IMIs), a subset of military engagements that lack a formal treaty or permanent secretariat. IMI theory makes two claims. First, perceived military coordination problems cause countries to initiate IMIs. Stagnating defense spending can trigger such perceptions. Second, matched motives among IMI participants lead to success. The dissertation performs a multimethod empirical analysis to test IMI theory’s claims against an alternative bureaucratic explanation involving the interests and capacity of the armed forces. In its quantitative section, the dissertation analyzes data on U.S. participation in new IMIs since World War II. The results show an association between stagnating U.S. defense spending and U.S. participation in IMIs alongside rivals, a finding consistent with IMI theory. In its qualitative section, the dissertation examines four case studies arranged in paired comparisons to maximize analytical leverage: U.S.-Soviet Military Liaison Missions in Germany, 1944-1990; U.S.-Soviet Joint Commission in Korea, 1944-1947; U.S.-Allies in RIMPAC during the Cold War, 1969-1990; and U.S.-China in RIMPAC since 2014. The evidence confirms that matched motives increase the odds of success, as IMI theory contends. Based on the findings, the dissertation offers recommendations for future U.S. policy toward China.-
dc.publisherPrinceton, NJ : Princeton University-
dc.relation.isformatofThe Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog: <a href=> </a>-
dc.subjectCold War-
dc.subjectMilitary Engagement-
dc.subjectMilitary Policy-
dc.subjectU.S. Military-
dc.subjectU.S.-China Relations-
dc.subjectU.S.-Soviet Relations-
dc.subject.classificationInternational relations-
dc.subject.classificationMilitary studies-
dc.subject.classificationMilitary history-
dc.titleMismatched Motives: Great Power Rivals, Informal Military Institutions, and the Future of U.S.-Chinese Defense Relations-
dc.typeAcademic dissertations (Ph.D.)-
Appears in Collections:Public and International Affairs

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Sharp_princeton_0181D_13249.pdf2.91 MBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.