Power in Transition: The Peaceful Change of International Order

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

7
Conclusion: The shifting nature of
power and peaceful systemic change
Charles A. Kupchan

The opening chapter of this book contends that global politics are on the verge of entering a period of systemic change. As this new century progresses, the unipolar system that emerged after the end of the Cold War will give way to a landscape in which power and responsibility are more equally shared. The bloody record of past power transitions serves as a point of departure for this volume and underscores the importance of new efforts to think through how to manage systemic change peacefully.

The claim that a systemic change is looming on the horizon is admittedly contestable. The United States enjoys a stark material preponderance that shows few signs of dissipating in the years ahead. America's economic output far surpasses that of any other country. The United States spends more on defense than the next five major powers combined and more on research and development in the defense sector than the rest of the world combined. 1 Its qualitative edge in technology suggests that its economic and military supremacy is likely to be sustained for some time to come. Furthermore, America's material preponderance is backed up by a quite impressive portfolio of “soft power” stemming from the breadth and depth of its cultural reach.

The stark power asymmetries between the United States and potential challengers should not, however, breed complacency that systemic change is necessarily far off. To focus only on material indicators of power is to assume that power transitions of the future will look like those of the past, in which a rising state pursues and eventually overtakes

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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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