After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order after Major Wars

Synopsis

The end of the Cold War was a "big bang" in world politics not unlike earlier historical moments after major wars, such as the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the end of the World Wars in 1919 and 1945. Here John Ikenberry asks the question, what do states that win these great conflicts do with their new found power and how do they use it to build order? In examining the major postwar settlements in modern history, he argues that powerful countries usually seek to build stable and cooperative relations, and often the best way to do this is to restrain the exercise of brute power by operating within multilateral institutions.

The author explains that military winners have a long-term interest in the stability of a new world order, since they are the dominant powers within it. Consequently, they limit their own power and coopt other states to create stable and lasting relations. The more institutionalized and self-limiting, the more durable the postwar order. Ikenberry maintains that a country's ability to restrain its power has shifted historically with the rise of democratic states. Blending comparative politics with internat

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