Braumoeller, Bear F.

The great powers and the international system : systemic theory in empirical perspective / Bear F. Braumoeller, Ohio State University. - Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2012. - xviii, 276 pages ; 24 cm. - Cambridge studies in international relations .

Includes bibliographical references (pages 243-267) and index.

Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction; 2. System, state, and citizen; 3. System, process, and evidence; 4. Systems in historic perspective; 5. Conclusions and implications.

"This is the first book to describe and test a fully systemic theory of international politics. Using statistics and diplomatic history, it traces statesmen's efforts to influence the power and ideas that form the broad contours of the international system within which they interact"-- "In Thucudides' History of the Peloponnesian War, the author recounts an incident in which the Athenians sailed to the island of Melos, a Spartan colony, and two Athenian Generals, Cleomedes and Tisias, sent their representatives to negotiate with the Council of the Melians. What makes their dialogue especially noteworthy is the Athenians' bald statement at the onset that, in their negotiations, the Melians should not appeal to the Athenians' sense of justice, because, quite simply, "the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." The sphere of power is independent of the sphere of justice, rendering the state an autonomous actor, able to pursue its own interests, limited only by its own capabilities. Millenia later, in an era in which Great Powers have given way to superpowers and nuclear weapons have magnified the disparity between strong and weak to a degree unimaginable to the Athenians, the aphorism remains familiar and seems more applicable than ever. It is surprising, therefore, to find some of the most adroit statesmen at the helm of some of the most powerful states of the past two centuries expressing near-helplessness in the face of the impersonal forces that shape world politics. No less effective a diplomat than Charles de Talleyrand-Perigord famously said that "[t]he art of statesmanship is to foresee the inevitable and to expedite its occurrence." Otto von Bismarck, architect of German unification, wrote that "[e]ven victorious wars can only be justified when they are forced upon a nation."1 Such quotes, indicating as they do that even Great Powers often have very little freedom of action amid the overwhelming pull of international events, seem puzzling coming from statesmen famous for their ability to produce the outcomes they desired"--

9781107005419 (hardback) 9781107659186 (paperback)

POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General.
Great powers.
International relations--Philosophy.
International relations--History.

JZ1310 / .B73 2012


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