World Out of Balance: International Relations and the Challenge of American Primacy

Princeton University Press
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World Out of Balance is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the constraints on the United States' use of power in pursuit of its security interests. Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth overturn conventional wisdom by showing that in a unipolar system, where the United States is dominant in the scales of world power, the constraints featured in international relations theory are generally inapplicable. In fact, the authors argue that the U.S. will not soon lose its leadership position; rather, it stands before a twenty-year window of opportunity for reshaping the international system.

Although American primacy in the world is unprecedented, analysts routinely stress the limited utility of such preeminence. The authors examine arguments from each of the main international relations theories--realism, institutionalism, constructivism, and liberalism. They also cover the four established external constraints on U.S. security policy--international institutions, economic interdependence, legitimacy, and balancing. The prevailing view is that these external constraints conspire to undermine the value of U.S. primacy, greatly restricting the range of security policies the country can pursue. Brooks and Wohlforth show that, in actuality, the international environment does not tightly constrain U.S. security policy. World Out of Balance underscores the need for an entirely new research agenda to better understand the contours of international politics and the United States' place in the world order.

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About the author

Stephen G. Brooks is associate professor of government at Dartmouth College and the author of Producing Security (Princeton). William C. Wohlforth is professor of government at Dartmouth and the author of The Elusive Balance.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jul 1, 2008
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Pages
248
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ISBN
9781400837601
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Comparative Politics
Political Science / International Relations / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Stephen G. Brooks
Scholars and statesmen have debated the influence of international commerce on war and peace for thousands of years. Over the centuries, analysts have generally treated the questions "Does international commerce influence security?" and "Do trade flows influence security?" as synonymous.

In Producing Security, Stephen Brooks maintains that such an overarching focus on the security implications of trade once made sense but no longer does. Trade is no longer the primary means of organizing international economic transactions; rather, where and how multinational corporations (MNCs) organize their international production activities is now the key integrating force of global commerce.

MNC strategies have changed in a variety of fundamental ways over the past three decades, Brooks argues, resulting in an increased geographic dispersion of production across borders. The author shows that the globalization of production has led to a series of shifts in the global security environment. It has a differential effect on security relations, in part because it does not encompass all countries and industries to the same extent. The book's findings indicate that the geographic dispersion of MNC production acts as a significant force for peace among the great powers. The author concludes that there is no basis for optimism that the globalization of production will promote peace elsewhere in the world. Indeed, he finds that it has a net negative influence on security relations among developing countries.

Andrei Lankov
Andrei Lankov has gone where few outsiders have ever been. A native of the former Soviet Union, he lived as an exchange student in North Korea in the 1980s. He has studied it for his entire career, using his fluency in Korean and personal contacts to build a rich, nuanced understanding. In The Real North Korea, Lankov substitutes cold, clear analysis for the overheated rhetoric surrounding this opaque police state. After providing an accessible history of the nation, he turns his focus to what North Korea is, what its leadership thinks, and how its people cope with living in such an oppressive and poor place. He argues that North Korea is not irrational, and nothing shows this better than its continuing survival against all odds. A living political fossil, it clings to existence in the face of limited resources and a zombie economy, manipulating great powers despite its weakness. Its leaders are not ideological zealots or madmen, but perhaps the best practitioners of Machiavellian politics that can be found in the modern world. Even though they preside over a failed state, they have successfully used diplomacy-including nuclear threats-to extract support from other nations. But while the people in charge have been ruthless and successful in holding on to power, Lankov goes on to argue that this cannot continue forever, since the old system is slowly falling apart. In the long run, with or without reform, the regime is unsustainable. Lankov contends that reforms, if attempted, will trigger a dramatic implosion of the regime. They will not prolong its existence. Based on vast expertise, this book reveals how average North Koreans live, how their leaders rule, and how both survive.
Stephen G. Brooks
Scholars and statesmen have debated the influence of international commerce on war and peace for thousands of years. Over the centuries, analysts have generally treated the questions "Does international commerce influence security?" and "Do trade flows influence security?" as synonymous.

In Producing Security, Stephen Brooks maintains that such an overarching focus on the security implications of trade once made sense but no longer does. Trade is no longer the primary means of organizing international economic transactions; rather, where and how multinational corporations (MNCs) organize their international production activities is now the key integrating force of global commerce.

MNC strategies have changed in a variety of fundamental ways over the past three decades, Brooks argues, resulting in an increased geographic dispersion of production across borders. The author shows that the globalization of production has led to a series of shifts in the global security environment. It has a differential effect on security relations, in part because it does not encompass all countries and industries to the same extent. The book's findings indicate that the geographic dispersion of MNC production acts as a significant force for peace among the great powers. The author concludes that there is no basis for optimism that the globalization of production will promote peace elsewhere in the world. Indeed, he finds that it has a net negative influence on security relations among developing countries.

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