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In The Breaking of Nations, Cooper shows that the greatest question facing post-modern states is how they should deal with a world in which missiles and terrorists ignore borders and where Cold War alliances no longer guarantee security. He argues that when dealing with a hostile outside enemy, civilized countries need to revert to tougher methods from an earlier era -- force, preemptive attack, deception -- if we are to safeguard peaceful coexistence throughout the civilized world. He also advocates a doctrine of liberal imperialism that advocates that post-modern states have a right to intervene in the affairs of modern and pre-modern states if they pose a significant enough threat. The Breaking of Nations is essential reading for a dangerous age, a cautionary tale for superpowers, and a prescient examination of international relations in the twenty-first century.
Winner of the 2004 Arthur Ross Book Award Silver Medal
Cooper makes a good case that the growing threat of terrorism necessitates new forms of cooperation and a reconstructed international order that goes beyond the balance of power or hegemony. Stable order in the new age must be built on legitimate authority and more inclusive political identities. But apart from these postmodern urgings, Cooper's vision remains sketchy.
THE COLD WAR ORDER The wars of 1914 to 1945 destroyed both the European balance of power in its traditional sense and also the European empires. The empires depended on prestige, and this was fatally undermined by the Japanese successes in the Second World War. In Europe itself, America and Russia were now needed to keep the system intact. What happened after 1945 was, however, not so much a radically new system as the concentration and culmination of the old one. The empires became spheres of influence of the superpowers. And the old multilateral balance of power in Europe became a bilateral balance of terror worldwide. In a strange way the old systems - balance in Europe and empire outside - were combined to produce something like a world order of balance between empires or blocs: a final culminating simplification of the balance of power. The Cold War years were a period of wars and tension, but there was also an underlying order. This came in the shape of a tacit understanding that the United States and the Soviet Union would go to great lengths not to fight each other directly, as would their major allies. Behind this, of course, lay nuclear weapons. The other side of this coin was that the Soviet Union was free to invade its own allies without Western interference. These unwritten rules also permitted the Soviets to arm North Vietnam, and America to arm Afghan guerrillas; but neither sent conventional combat forces to a theatre where the other was committed. For the most part, the Cold War was fought with propaganda, bribery and subversion. Where there was military combat, it was most often for political or ideological control of a particular country - Nicaragua, Angola or Korea, for example - rather than between countries. Many of the actual battles of the Cold War took place in civil wars. Thus the system had a certain orderliness, since boundaries did not often change and major inter-state conflicts were usually outside the Cold War framework. And yet the Cold War order was not built to last. Although it was stable on a military level it lacked legitimacy as a system. It was not just that many found the balance of terror repugnant - on the whole it was individuals rather than governments who had the moral doubts. Rather, the ideologies of both sides rejected the division of the world into two camps; each claimed a universal validity and a moral authority for their own version of how the world should be. (On the Western side, this was probably truer in America than in Europe.) In this sense, the Cold War balance differed from the European balance-of-power system, which was accepted by the governments of the day as legitimate and which, in some sense, matched the rationalist spirit of the times. The Cold War system of balance and division never suited the more universalistic, moralistic spirit of the late twentieth century. Moreover, both sides, within certain limits, were always ready to undermine it. The end of the Cold War has brought not only the rearrangement of the international scene that usually follows hegemonic wars but also domestic change. Since the Cold War was a battle of ideas as much as one between armies, those changes have not been imposed by occupying forces but introduced to willing, if bemused, governments by hordes of MIT-trained economists, management consultants, seminars and programmes of technical assistance (including the aptly named British Know-How Fund). The unique character of the Cold War is also shown by the fact that instead of extracting reparations - a practice which lasted from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century - the victors have instead given aid to help convert the defeated side. Thus are wars of ideas different from wars of territory. Ideas are not cost-free. They can be dangerous to peace. Democracy, the victorious idea in the Cold War, is a destroyer of empires. To run a democratic state with majority voting requires a strong sense of identity. Democracy entails the definition of a political community. In many cases, this is provided by the idea of the nation. The break-up of the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia - both in different ways Cold War empires - is a consequence of the victory of Western liberalism and democracy. The wars in those territories are democracy's wars. Liberalism and nationalism can go together today just as they did for eighteenth- and nineteenth-century states emerging from one or another form of imperial rule. (Continues...)
Excerpted from The Breaking of Nations by Robert Cooper Copyright © 2003 by Robert Cooper. Excerpted by permission.
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|Pt. 1||The Condition of the World||1|
|1||The Old World Order||7|
|2||The New World Order||16|
|3||Security in the New World||55|
|Pt. 2||The Conditions of Peace: Twenty-First Century Diplomacy||81|
|Pt. 3||Epilogue: Europe and America||153|
Posted October 18, 2014
This was an amazing read. I chose it for a book review that was required for my Graduate Theories of International Relations course and was expecting it to be a boring read. However, I have enjoyed the book immensely and have a whole new understanding of how past and present international relations are influenced by schools of thought like post modernism. The author explains complex ideas with an ease and simplicity that makes even non-political science majors able to follow along. I would recommend anyone in international politics to give this book a try. You will be glad you did.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.