A Century's Journey: How the Great Powers Shape the World

A Century's Journey: How the Great Powers Shape the World

A Century's Journey: How the Great Powers Shape the World

A Century's Journey: How the Great Powers Shape the World


Foreign policy scholars argue that the key to understanding the world's future lies in understanding how the great powers shaped the 20th century. They analyze the foreign policies of seven major powers -- England, France, Germany, Russia, the US, Japan, and China -- and identify pivotal forces that have shaped each country's policies over the last 100 years. They conclude that the goals of the powers have changed from building empires to responding to citizens and consumers.


The end of the cold war has brought neither peace on earth nor, for that matter, goodwill to mankind.But it has brought a relaxation in strategic tensions, an opportunity to concentrate on social and economic problems, and considerable confusion about the world. To those who were comfortable interpreting all the world's events in terms of victories or defeats for the United States or the Soviet Union, the contemporary world is a tangle of contradictions.Today anti-American fundamentalists can burn a U.S. flag and eat American hamburgers and not get indigestion.

Globalization seems to be compressing the world and making it more homogeneous, but at the same time the world seems to be tearing itself apart. Grand theories explain both the unifying pressures of technology and democracy and the fragmenting power of religion and ethnicity. Each set of theories seems to be at war with the others, but they share one idea: that the great powers, and indeed all nation‐ states, are relics of a bygone era. On that point, we disagree.

We have come together to write this book for a number of reasons. First, we believe that states—and, in particular, England, France, Germany, Russia, the United States, Japan, and China—have been the principal actors on the international stage throughout this century and that they are likely to remain so as far as we can see into the next century.Second, we think the first and best step toward understanding the next century is to learn how these states drew the contours of the international system in the twentieth century. This is not a new idea, but lately it has been discounted by those who believe the world is so different from the past that history is of little use.

The new theories addressing why the world is shrinking or fragmenting offer penetrating insights into new forces in international . . .

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