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American Unipolarity and the Rise of China

American Unipolarity and the Rise of China. Theo Farrell, CSI Lecture 3, 2011. Realist worldview. Why power matters. Offensive Realist. Defensive Realist. What states do. Balance Bandwagon Buck-passing Chain-ganging. Why polarity matters. More stable – less prone to war

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American Unipolarity and the Rise of China

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  1. American Unipolarity and the Rise of China Theo Farrell, CSI Lecture 3, 2011

  2. Realist worldview

  3. Why power matters Offensive Realist Defensive Realist

  4. What states do • Balance • Bandwagon • Buck-passing • Chain-ganging

  5. Why polarity matters • More stable – less prone to war • Bipolar orders are simple to manage. • Multipolar orders can slip into war due to ‘chain-ganging’ (WWI) and ‘buck-passing’ (WWII).

  6. Bound to Lead (Nye, 1990)

  7. European hegemons • The Hapsburg Empire (Charles V and Philip II) • Napoleonic France • Victorian Britain • Nazi Germany

  8. Wohlforth’s ”big 3” • World system is unabiguously unipolar. • Unipolarity is prone to peace. • Current unipolarity is stable.

  9. Extent of American unipolarity • 2 – 1 = 1? • Quantitative + qualitative material advantages • Largest high-tech economy • Expenditure on R&D = rest of G7 combined

  10. Unipolarity = peace • No hegemonic rivalry • International institutions and hegemonic self-restraint (Ikenberry) • Social foundations of hegemony (Reus-Smit)

  11. Why US unipolarity is stable • Totality of power gap • Geography – ‘stopping power of water’ • No rising challengers: EU, Japan, China

  12. Soft balancing • ‘Actions that do not directly challenge U.S. military preponderance but that use nonmilitary tools to delay, frustrate, and undermine aggressive unilateral U.S. military practices.’ • Logic: containing U.S hegemonic power • Trigger: unilateralism under Bush • Soft balancing strategies: territorial denial, entangling diplomacy, economic strengthening, and signaling resolve

  13. Much ado about nothing..

  14. ‘Back to the future’: the world in 2025.. • ‘…will be a global multipolar one’ • China and India in C18th: 30% and 15% of global wealth • China = world’s second largest economy • Chinese problems: failing social security net, poor business regulation, hunger for foreign energy, corruption, and environmental devastation

  15. Long-range forecasting: reasons to be cautious • Leaders and their ideas matter • Economic volatility and political change • Geopolitical rivalry and discontinuities

  16. Revisionist state? • Revisionist states value what they covet more than what they currently possess • They will employ military force to change the status quo and extend their values Randall Schweller, ‘Bringing the Revisionist State Back In, International Security 19: 1 (1994)

  17. Naval balance of power

  18. Implications of Chinese military modernisation • Disrupt US freedom of movement in the region • Narrow US strategic options SecDef Robert Gates (2009)

  19. Hey big spender

  20. Keeps on growing

  21. Bad debts • US current account deficit = 1.4 of global GDP and China current account surplus = 0.7 of global GDP (2007) • Sept 2008, China replaced Japan as largest foreign holder of US debt (= $1.5 trillion or 46% of US debt) Daniel Drezner, ‘Assessing China’s Financial Influence in Great Power Politics’, Int Security 34: 2 (2009).

  22. ‘Responsible power?’ ‘It is time to take our policy beyond opening doors to China’s membership into the international system. We need to urge China to become a responsible stakeholder in that system.’ Deputy Sec of State Robert Zoellick (2005).

  23. China as a ‘social state’ 1. Participation in int institutions 2. Compliance with int norms: (sovereignty, free trade, non-prolif, HR) 3. Attitude towards the ‘rules of the game’ A. I. Johnston, ‘Is China a Status Quo Power,’ Int Security 27: 4 (2003)

  24. Future looks bright…?

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