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« Driven to Distraction | Main | Heavenly Balance »

February 10, 2009


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all great powers act according to the same logic regardless of their culture, political system, or who runs the government.

I don't think your counterexamples are all that effective: Mearsheimer would probably argue that the backstory you're relying on is only important insofar as it changes their relative power. The realists aren't arguing that internal history is irrelevant to state power, but to their external use of that power.

It's the reason why the US and USSR both developed empires and enforced them with military might and economic coercion; it's the reason why Japan, Italy and Germany developed similar expansionist policies in the early 20c. At least that's the story the "realists" tell.

I'm not a realist, mind you. I'm a starry-eyed cynic.

I was thinking about it some more, and the best counter-example I can think of would be post-war Japan: though economically, there's no reason why it couldn't be a regional power, even a world-class one. Their military is one of the best equipped and best funded in the world. But their Constitution, and public opinion, has kept their politicians from actually acting in anything like a realist fashion. So far, anyway.

Yes, postwar Japan gives realists fits. But I would also stand by the other counterexamples I give. Hui engages realist theories directly and does a great job in illustrating how Qin, especially the internal political-administrative reforms (e.g. creating xian [counties]), requires that we move deeper than structural realists do, if we are to understand dynamics of national power that can have international effects of historic import. And I think that is a story similar to Meiji Japan. This may seem obvious, but structural realists really do deflect attention away from internal political-economic factors when they tell us to look at states as "billiard balls."

solid post

and yes I agree whole heartedly with the entire post. excellent

As mark Twain once said History never repeats it rhymes...

Sadly I suspect our times rhyme with the Warring States more than I would wish...

But one difference is due to accelerated nature of communication and ability to shift resources, I think our own times will see a much faster pulling together of power.

But here is a question for you Sam... When did our own warring states time period begin? Are we in this since Queen Victoria for instance when the sun never set on the English empire, did it begin with WWI and WWII did it begin when Eisenhower declare the industrial - military complex to be feared... did it begin after the civil war when the constitution changed allowing coporations to create a form of citizenship that we are still today trying to come to grips with? Perhaps we are already 150 years into our own warring states period.

SO instead of the families Zhi , Wei, Zhao , Han (or clans etc) we have Exxon, Citi Bank and others likewise in an economic war they are consolidating power right now.

I mean do we have a warring states period within a warring states period... As nations squabble, the inner war of corporate power continues to consolidate

SO many ways to spin this and until its after and done and historians sort it out we wont know which way this all rhymes with history, and they will look back and ask.. how could they not know?

while we in the now who did suspect, walked away to let to happen since "people are people" and the politics like rain falls

anyways I ramble since in my mind its all poetry of human nature and i prefer to stay next to my water fall in the back yard as it rhymes on out.

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