Intrusions are the intentional unauthorized violation of a state's sovereign territory or claimed space (e.g., air defense identification zone, exclusive economic zone) by assets controlled by another state. Intrusions are one of the most common military interactions between major powers. Yet, intrusions are poorly understood by security studies scholars. To the extent that they are addressed in the literature, they are usually understood through the lens of coercive signaling. However, most intrusions lack the requisite components for this coercive signaling such as competing political objectives, associated demands, and the necessary risk to demonstrate resolve. As a result, most intrusions are left unexplained by the literature. This dissertation argues that states use intrusions and responses to intrusions to assert their relative status in bilateral relationships. Leaders that are dissatisfied with their state's status in relation to another country are more likely to exhibit a pattern of escalated intrusions or responses to intrusions as a means of reframing the status relationship. The study tests these hypotheses using case studies centered on Chinese and Russian leaders vis-a-vis the United States. The cases were constructed using interviews with current and former senior officials as well as archival resources (some recently declassified). These findings are important. They provide insight on how states communicate and compete for status as well as the role of intimidation and deference in interstate relationships. The findings also help clarify how and why leaders today are using intrusions such as Xi Jinping in the South and East China Seas and Vladimir Putin's resumption of long-range bomber patrols against the United States and other NATO countries.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
School of Politics, Security and International Affairs
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Kerschner, Logan, "Small Intrusions, Powerful Payoff: Shaping Status Relationships Through Interstate Intrusions and Responses" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 708.