Unipolar Politics: Realism and State Strategies after the Cold War

Unipolar Politics: Realism and State Strategies after the Cold War

Unipolar Politics: Realism and State Strategies after the Cold War

Unipolar Politics: Realism and State Strategies after the Cold War


Unipolar Politics brings together prominent scholars in international relations to analyze the decisions that major powers have made since the Cold War to adapt to a rapidly changing economic and security environment.

The book points to powerful evidence that nations around the world are "bandwagoning" with the United States in most respects, while still trying to maintain some independence of action in the event that America becomes isolationist, antagonistic, or simply uninterested in a particular regional crisis. Meanwhile the United States is being pulled in different directions by its own economic and security requirements, leading to policy contradictions that must be resolved if the "unipolar" moment is to endure.

The authors acknowledge that, while great power wars are now unlikely, positional conflicts over resources and markets still remain, and may even be strengthening.


For the past decade, policymakers and scholars who focus on international affairs have found themselves adrift without chart or compass. The end of the Cold War surely meant profound changes in the international system, but what form did the “new world order” take? Were we on the road toward a world of liberal, peace-loving democracies, as Francis Fukuyama proposed in “The End of History?” Or were we facing instead, as Samuel Huntington asked, “The Clash of Civilizations?” Wherever one looked, scholars and policymakers seemed to be presenting conflicting visions of world politics, and in most cases they failed to provide the sort of testable propositions that would help us discover whether or not their assertions were correct.

At the level of foreign policy, authors were also asking about the future direction that countries would take around the world. Would the Western alliance survive the end of the Cold War, or was it doomed to collapse? Would Japan and/or China challenge American leadership, or would they “bandwagon” with the United States? Was the European Union likely to develop a single foreign and defense policy, or would it continue to “freeride” on Washington? Again, we have faced a barrage of questions and answers without a filter to help us separate out the serious ideas from those that were frivolous.

The authors of this volume came together to bring some analytical clarity to the increasingly contested realm of world politics. Specifically, we wanted to know whether the dominant research program in international relations . . .

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