The Tragedy of Great Power Politics / Edition 1by John J. Mearsheimer
Pub. Date: 04/01/2002
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
A decade after the end of the Cold War, both policy makers and academics foresee a new era of peace and prosperity, an era when democracy, open trade, and mutual trust will join hands to banish war from the globe. With insight worthy of The Prince, John Mearsheimer exposes the truth behind this idyllic illusion: in a world where no international authority reigns above… See more details below
A decade after the end of the Cold War, both policy makers and academics foresee a new era of peace and prosperity, an era when democracy, open trade, and mutual trust will join hands to banish war from the globe. With insight worthy of The Prince, John Mearsheimer exposes the truth behind this idyllic illusion: in a world where no international authority reigns above states, great powers invariably seek to gain power at each other's expense and to establish themselves as the dominant state.
Table of Contents
|List of Maps|
|List of Tables|
|2||Anarchy and the Struggle for Power||29|
|3||Wealth and Power||55|
|4||The Primacy of Land Power||83|
|5||Strategies for Survival||138|
|6||Great Powers in Action||168|
|7||The Offshore Balancers||234|
|8||Balancing versus Buck-Passing||267|
|9||The Causes of Great Power War||334|
|10||Great Power Politics in the Twenty-first Century||360|
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This is a college level text but it reads smoothly and clearly. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in understanding the deeper workings of international affairs. The hisorical information alone is fun reading and the conclusions reached are significant. Overall an accessable book for those who have the time.
In "The Tragedy of Great Power Politics" John Mearsheimer endeavors to affix a new branch to the tree of Realism - the controversial, yet well-supported theory of international politics. Hypothesizing that states will seek to maximize their relative power in an anarchic international system which incentivizes security prioritization, Mearsheimer methodically makes his case examining great power relations since the 1790s. (Disclosure: this reviewer is an ardent realist.) At the time of its publication, "The Tragedy" was staring upstream as the river of momentum in international political theory flowed toward Liberalism. Optimistic following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, IR theorists were celebrating "the end of history" and US policy-making elite seemed intent on testing Liberal theory in a world free from the realpolitik of bipolarity. Nearly a decade hence - and several Liberally-informed policy decisions later - realism is making its return and "The Tragedy" deserves to move straight to the top of the reading lists for anyone interested in the arc of international relations in the second decade of the twenty-first century. Mearsheimer's iron-fisted grip on the logic of interstate relations results in a veritable handbook for how to view the post-Cold War international system. Specifically, for how the United States ought to approach a rising China. According to Mearsheimer, China's rise - if untempered and unchallenged - will likely result in a security competition unlike any before it. Because of the unprecedented combination of population and potential wealth, and the absence of sufficiently powerful regional rivals, China presents the most dangerous threat for revision since Nazi Germany attempted to establish hegemony in Europe in the late 1930s. Moreover, Mearsheimer argues, the augmentation of these concerning factors with the presence of nuclear weapons makes the proper management of China's rise the most important security issue in international relations. The compelling case made in "The Tragedy" is that system structure is a strong predictor of security competition and that the current, and likely future, system structure of northeast Asia should give pause to those who see in China's rise an opportunity for cooperation. If history is any guide, China's rise is likely to present challenges to international peace on a scale never before experienced.