Chinese Hegemony in Asia is Unlikely, so AirSea Battle Unnecessarily Provokes the Security Dilemma

by on 2013-10-04- 10 Comments


The following is a re-up of a piece I wrote for the Diplomat last month as part of an informal back-and-forth series with the National Interest this summer on the US pivot to Asia and AirSea Battle. (Here and here are some of the other entries.) That pic, which has got to be the grossest river in all China, is from here.

In brief, I increasingly think that ASB is a mistake, because it’s almost impossible to read it as anything other than hugely provocative from the Chinese point of view, no matter what we say to them about our peaceful intentions. (Read this, and tell me reasonable Chinese wouldn’t flip out.) It’s a classic example of the security dilemma, but as I argue below, I am not really convinced that we actually need this high-tech, super-fearsome-sounding ASB right up in their face. More generally though, the pivot to Asia – a sharpening of American attention on the region - is probably a good idea. China is vastly more influential on American life than Israel or Iran. But the Middle East and Islam activates belligerent American religiosity so much, that I doubt we’ll really be able to pivot. In any case, the essay follows the jump and is written in an op-ed style.

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Flexibility and Constraint in Hegemonic Orders

by on 2013-01-11- 5 Comments

About a year ago I introduced an ocasional series called "Quarter-Baked Ideas." The idea was to blog about semi-formed thoughts related to international affairs. The whole notion turned about to be quarter-baked: I haven't done another one until now.

Do rising powers have an intrinsic advantage in "flexibility" when compared to dominant ones? The answer to this question matters a great deal, I submit, to debates over the persistence and decline of hegemonic orders. As I've alluded to before, there's a curious blindspot in mainstream hegemonic-order theory.

On the one hand, hegemonic-order theories emphasize the significance of, well, hegemonic orders. The costs and benefits of those orders are supposed to influence the disposition of second-tier states and thus whether they challenge the dominant power. Gilpin noted, in particular, the allocation of status as a key factor in accounting for whether rising powers adopted a status-quo or revisionist approach to hegemonic orders. Ikenberry, among others, sees the character of hegemonic orders as of central importance: the US-led order, he argues, is durable because it provides "voice opportunities" for other states and involves multiple mechanisms ("self-retraining" or "self-binding" elements) that limit the potential for American predation.

On the other hand, such theorists don't really treat order itself as an object of contention. The character of the order might be important, but all the action occurs at the level of alterations in the distribution of state capacity. Hegemony lasts so long as the dominant power avoids, or prevails over, rising revisionist states. Yet, as should be obvious, hegemony isn't separable from order. A political community might stand at the apex of the international pyramid of power, but if doesn't build and maintain an order then it isn't exercising hegemony. Indeed, this is why Ikenberry invests a great deal of energy in arguing that the liberal order can persist even without unipolarity, and that states might even accept US security primacy after relative decline.

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Notes on Hegemony and Symbolic Capital

by on 2012-10-15- 5 Comments

This is of interest only to international-relations theorists and fellow travelers.

A long-standing claims about hegemonic orders is that they are normative ones: that a dominant power uses a wide variety of power resources to create a set of international rules and regimes conducive to its ideological and material interests. After World War II the United States worked actively to promote norms and institutions consistent with a broadly "liberal internationalist" environment, albeit ones refracted through the prism of Cold War competition. After the Cold War the United States enlarged the order, however unevenly, and during the Bush Administration it sought, but generally failed, to recast that order along neoconservative lines.

The two most importnat "mainstream" pieces to focus on the normative dimensions of hegemonic orders are probably John Ruggie's "International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order" and G. John Ikenberry's and Charles Kupchan's "Socialization and Hegemonic Power."

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More on Abusing America’s ‘Exorbitant Privilege': Will the Bond Market Turn on the US at a 100% Debt-to-GDP ratio?

by on 2012-06-17- 1 Comment

As part of a now lengthy chain (one, two, three, four) on US allies and the likelihood of US retrenchment, I argued that American hegemony,
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America’s ‘Exorbitant Privilege’ means it can Borrow to Sustain Hegemony Longer than Anyone Ever Expected

by on 2012-06-07- Leave a reply

Two of my posts this week (one, two) on hypothetical retrenchment under Ron Paul got a lot of traffic and comments. (H/t to Stephen Walt
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Retrenchment & Liberal Internationalism don’t really Fit Together (1)

by on 2012-02-04- Leave a reply

Taking Brian Rathbun’s advice, I was reading chapter 4 of Perception and Misperception, when it struck me that Jervis’ argument about values incongruity could be
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Replace the Dollar?

by on 2009-03-24- Leave a reply

A friend writes,* "What the end of hegemony looks like..."In another indication that China is growing increasingly concerned about holding huge dollar reserves, the head
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Hegemony, the Economy, and Baseball’s Winter Meetings

by on 2008-12-08- Leave a reply

Baseball's winter meetings start today in Vegas, which means loads of hot-stove league excitement for baseball fans like myself. However, I don't expect my team
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Bretton Woods 2.0

by on 2008-10-17- 1 Comment

If British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have their way, the advanced industrialized nations will come together to negotiate a new
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Barak Obama and the Renewal of American Hegemony

by on 2008-10-07- Leave a reply

By way of introduction... I've been pondering a post along these lines for a short while now, but this isn't going to exactly be the
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Scribbles in My Notebook on AIG

by on 2008-09-17- Leave a reply

One of my favorite Cleveland sports columnists often does a column of brief observations and insights after a game or big event. I don't scribble,
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Courting Influence

by on 2008-09-17- Leave a reply

The NY Times has a very interesting article out today reporting that the influence of the US Supreme Court is waning--internationally. While the Court holds
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Henry Paulson as “The Stabilizer”

by on 2008-09-12- Leave a reply

The US bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was a massive government intervention into the securities market. Why do this?Dan Drezner gives some insightful
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Closing Olympic Observations

by on 2008-08-25- Leave a reply

The Olympics ended about 12 hours ago, but NBC is giving us the tape-delayed broadcast this evening. One last set of semi-structured Olympic thoughts…Its pretty
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Russia-US relations: Russia as spoiler?

by on 2008-08-22- Leave a reply

Peter Baker contributes a rather odd story to The New York Times about all the ways Russia can make life difficult for the United States.
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Georgia: Thoughts on what it might mean

by on 2008-08-13- Leave a reply

With the Confrontation in the Caucasus seemingly over, I wanted to try to think through some of the implications for US foreign policy. Although it
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Cleveland’s Global Icon

by on 2008-08-06- Leave a reply

Nothing quite says Hegemon In Decline like: "LeBron would consider European offers."
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Obama and the end of Hegemonic Declinism

by on 2008-07-31- 1 Comment

Its hard to miss the prevailing idea that American hegemony is in a precipitous decline. Earlier this year, Parag Khanna was “Waving Goodbye to Hegemony”
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Still Soveriegn After All These Years

by on 2008-06-12- Leave a reply

Madeline Albright's op-ed in the NYT yesterday bemoans the fact thatthe concept of national sovereignty as an inviolable and overriding principle of global law is
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B-2 Crash

by on 2008-06-09- Leave a reply

A little water, and $1.4 billion goes up in flames...via Rob at LGM
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