Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books Political and Legal: Fateful Transitions: How Democracies Manage Rising Powers, from the Eve of World War I to China's Ascendance

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books Political and Legal: Fateful Transitions: How Democracies Manage Rising Powers, from the Eve of World War I to China's Ascendance

Article excerpt

Fateful Transitions: How Democracies Manage Rising Powers, From the Eve of World War I to China's Ascendance BY DANIEL KLIMAN. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014, 248 pp. $59.95.

Power transitions-when a rising state overtakes a dominant but declining one-are dangerous moments in international relations. Ambition, fear, and risk taking tend to intensify, often leading to war. In this important study, Kliman argues that some power transitions are more dangerous than others, depending on the political character of the states involved. The most peaceful transitions, Kliman contends, have been between democracies. When faced with an ascendant autocratic state, leading democracies have tended to pursue hedging and balancing strategies, and sometimes containment-think of the United States facing growing Soviet power after World War II. …

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