Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Dustin D. Berna

Second Advisor

Mary H. Schwoebel

Third Advisor

Judith McKay


correlates of war, militarized interstate dispute, quantitative, revisionism, Steps to War theory, war onset


Some conflict resolution and national security professionals contend there is no shortfall of qualitative research on Asia, China, Realism, or war. That said, this doctoral dissertation has two overarching purposes: first, an empirical study of interstate conflict at the regional and systematic levels. Second, is to examine the extent to which the Correlates of War covariates associated with the People’s Republic of China’s revisionist strategies. Combining these objectives led to the formulation of the main research question: What is the relationship between the correlates of war and China’s revisionist strategy in Asia? Realism contends that strong national capability and displays of military resolve guarantees safety. A counterargument, provided by the steps-to-war (STW) theory, is these power politics increases the chances of war. This dissertation empirically explores the latter by examination of 461 dispute dyads that cover a fifty-year period, an inductive statistical method was used to determine the relationship between the correlates of war and China’s revisionism. Although there were several research findings, three are indeed salient: 1) There was no statistical evidence that the STW theory, territorial revisions, rivalry, alliance-making, or arms races increase war onset chances; 2) When war onset was substituted for low-intensity interstate violence as an outcome variable, there was strong empirical evidence that the Correlates of War were statistical significant; and 3) China was essentially interstate war-adverse, but violence-prone. In short, this scientific study of war expanded the correlation knowledge of war onset, particularly in Asia.