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The Challenge of Hegemony

Grand Strategy, Trade, and Domestic Politics

Steven E. Lobell

Publication Year: 2003

The Challenge of Hegemony explains how international forces subtly influence foreign, economic, and security policies of declining world powers. Using detail-rich case studies, this sweeping study integrates domestic and systemic policy to explain these countries' grand strategies. The book concludes with a discussion of the implications for the future of American foreign policy. "His conceptually rigorous and tightly reasoned study . . . reminds us that power is never value neutral but organizes commercial systems in liberal or imperial terms." ---Perspectives on Politics "Lobell's book is tightly written, nicely argued and thoroughly researched to a fault. He seems to delight in historical detail. The complexity of his approach is refreshing." ---International Affairs "The Challenge of Hegemony is a pleasure to read. It is both theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich." ---International Studies Review "The Challenge of Hegemony offers a compelling reinterpretation of key historical cases and provides wise guidance as to how the United States should wield its power today." --Charles A. Kupchan, Council on Foreign Relations "Lobell demonstrates clearly how the international environment confronting great powers interacts with their domestic political coalitions to produce different grand strategies. Through a masterful sweep of history, Lobell shows us the alternative trajectories before the United States today." --David A. Lake, University of California, San Diego

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

I have been fortunate to have friends, teachers, and colleagues with able minds and generous hearts. My parents encouraged my early interest in Middle East politics, and a regional perspective is one of the kernels of this book. History courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison left me with a clear understanding of the importance of economics in driving ...

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1 Introduction

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pp. 1-17

Why did Britain pursue a cooperative grand strategy prior to World War I, emphasizing freer trade, reducing defense spending, signing arms limitation agreements, and retreating from empire, but then, prior to World War II, punish contenders by adopting imperial preferences and closer ties to the empire, enacting colonial quotas, and increasing defense spending? The existing literature on grand strategy either black boxes the state, making the assumption of a unified nation, ...

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2 Second Image Reversed Plus a Second Image

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pp. 19-41

The prime argument of this book is that a declining hegemon’s grand strategy is guided by the character of and changes in the commercial environment that it faces. In this chapter I analyze when domestic actors and interest groups are likely to be influential in order to better understand how declining states select their grand strategy (Vasquez 1993, 207–10).

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3 Liberal Contenders and Britain’s Grand Strategy of Cooperation 1889-1912

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pp. 43-84

In the sixty or so years after the Napoleonic Wars, Britain came to dominate many regions of the globe. These spheres of formal and informal influence comprised the Far East, especially China; central Asia, including the “Jewel in the Crown,” India, and the buffer territories of Persia and the Gulf, Afghanistan, and Tibet; the Mediterranean (the Straits of Gibraltar and the Turkish Straits); southern and eastern Africa; and Central ...

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4 Imperial Contenders and Britain’s Grand Strategy of Restrained Punishment, 1932-1939

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pp. 85-121

In the decades after World War I, Britain was a leading world power (McKercher 1991). New regions in the Near East (namely, the former Ottoman Empire) were included in Britain’s empire. Germany had been disarmed under the Versailles Treaty, and its navy was scuttled at Scapa Flow after the Great War. Other potential contenders for regional leadership such as Italy and Japan ...

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5. Imperial Contenders and Spain's Grand Strategy of Punishment, 1621-1640

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pp. 123-151

In the late sixteenth century, Spain was the preeminent world power, and its wealthy overseas empire was the envy of the emerging European states (G. Williams 1966, 9). In 1580, Madrid’s claims became even more all-encompassing when King Philip II of Spain secured the Crown of Portugal and its overseas empire in Brazil, Africa, and the East Indies, adding them to Spain’s global empire. ...

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6 Great Power Tenure

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pp. 153-171

In integrating systemic and domestic politics, this book makes a second image reversed plus a second image argument to explain a declining state’s grand strategy. I argue that the nature of and shifts in the international environment will affect the constellation of political power within the declining hegemon and thereby guide its grand strategy.


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pp. 173-174


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pp. 175-199


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pp. 201-233


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pp. 235-245

E-ISBN-13: 9780472024759
E-ISBN-10: 0472024752
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472030804
Print-ISBN-10: 0472030809

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 2 tables
Publication Year: 2003