Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Balancing Risks: Great Power Intervention in the Periphery

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Balancing Risks: Great Power Intervention in the Periphery

Article excerpt

Balancing Risks: Great Power Intervention in the Periphery, by Jeffrey W. Taliaferro. Cornell, May 2004. $39.95

Why do great powers initiate risky military interventions in regions of the world that do not in themselves pose a direct threat to the security of the intervening state? Why do those great powers often initiate even riskier military strategies in an effort to stem the tide of failing interventions when the probability of success is small? These two questions motivate Jeffrey W. Taliaferro's important contribution to the scholarly international relations literature. In Balancing Risks, Taliaferro skillfully blends two lines of theorizing, defensive realism and prospect theory, to explain the conditions under which leaders of great powers are more or less likely to adopt risky foreign military policies. Defensive realism argues that when confronted with unfavorable trends in power relative to others, leaders of great powers will likely adopt belligerent strategies in an attempt to stem the tide of their decaying position. …

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