Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Committee Chair

Joe D. Hagan

Committee Co-Chair

Scott Crichlow.


This dissertation contributes to the literature on prevention in two specific ways. First, it broadens the concept of preventive war, developing the idea that dominant states have a choice when it comes to dealing with rising challengers. The choice is not a dichotomous variable of either war or no war. Instead, there is a range of choices that decision makers within the dominant state have at their disposal. This dissertation examines the relationship---over time---between two conflictual states, one in relative decline and the other in relative ascendance, and studies the response of the dominant but declining power. Second, I focus more than others have on the perceptions of decision makers and the workings of domestic politics in determining how dominant states respond to rising challengers. I use three broad historical case studies to empirically test my ideas about the extended concept of preventive action. Using components of the method of structured, focused comparison, I examine the internal domestic decision making processes of the cases. Finally, I utilize a foreign policy analysis approach and develop a model that illuminates nuances that have been largely overlooked in the scholarly literature.