Power in Transition: The Peaceful Change of International Order

By Charles A. Kupchan; Emanuel Adler et al. | Go to book overview

2
Benign states and peaceful
transition
Charles A. Kupchan

The twentieth century witnessed the emergence of several “pockets of nonanarchic space” – groupings of states that have escaped the security dilemma and behave toward one another without fear of predatory intent. Scholars across different theoretical traditions acknowledge that the United States and Canada, the Nordic countries, the states of Western Europe, and the Atlantic democracies taken collectively enjoy a quality of stable peace that defies traditional notions of anarchic competition. Just as citizens in most liberal democracies go about their business without police escort or guns at their waists, so do these states interact with one another with their guard down and their fear of armed conflict almost nonexistent.

I argue in this chapter that this anomalous behavior stems from a profound and deep-seated belief among the states in question that they will not do one another harm. This deep-seated belief in turn arises from a reciprocal process in which the parties engage in the mutual attribution of benign character. They come to see one another as benign polities with benign intent, enabling them to escape the competitive imperatives of the international system. The central task of the chapter is to flesh out the concept of benign character, theorize about how and when it emerges, and through the case studies demonstrate its importance in facilitating peaceful transition.


Benign states

The existing literature on state type regularly distinguishes between revisionist and status quo states. 1 Revisionist states are rising powers that

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Power in Transition: The Peaceful Change of International Order
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • 1 - Introduction: Explaining Peaceful Power Transition 1
  • Notes *
  • 2 - Benign States and Peaceful Transition 18
  • Notes *
  • 3 - Negotiating “order” During Power Transitions 34
  • Notes *
  • 4 - Legitimacy, Socialization, and International Change 68
  • Notes *
  • 5 - Peaceful Power Transitions: the Historical Cases 101
  • Notes *
  • 6 - The Change of Change: Peaceful Transitions of Power in the Multilateral Age 138
  • Notes *
  • 7 - Conclusion: the Shifting Nature of Power and Peaceful Systemic Change 159
  • Notes *
  • Contributors 174
  • Index 175
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