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by John J. Mearsheimer
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Politics & Government
  • Author:
    John J. Mearsheimer
  • ISBN:
    039332396X
  • ISBN13:
    978-0393323962
  • Genre:
  • Publisher:
    W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (January 17, 2003)
  • Pages:
    576 pages
  • Subcategory:
    Politics & Government
  • Language:
  • FB2 format
    1153 kb
  • ePUB format
    1750 kb
  • DJVU format
    1516 kb
  • Rating:
    4.4
  • Votes:
    172
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The Tragedy of Great Power Politics is a book by the American scholar John Mearsheimer on the subject of international relations theory published by . Norton & Company in 2001.

The Tragedy of Great Power Politics is a book by the American scholar John Mearsheimer on the subject of international relations theory published by . Mearsheimer explains and argues for his theory of "offensive realism" by stating its key assumptions, evolution from early realist theory, and its predictive capability.

Great powers are rarely content with the current distribution of power; on the contrary, they face a constant incentive to. .This book offers a realist theory of international politics that challenges the prevailing optimism about relations among the great powers.

Great powers are rarely content with the current distribution of power; on the contrary, they face a constant incentive to change it in their favor. They almost always have revisionist intentions, and they will use force to alter the balance of power if they think it can be done at a reasonable price. 3 At times, the costs and risks of trying to shift the balance of power are too great, forcing great powers to wait for more favorable circumstances. That enterprise involves three particular tasks.

Toward the end of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, he applies his theories to the current scene: "I believe . John Mearsheimer is a professor at the University of Chicago.

Toward the end of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, he applies his theories to the current scene: "I believe that the existing power structures in Europe in Northeast Asia are not sustainable through 2020. Mearsheimer is especially critical of America's policy of engagement with China; he thinks that trying to make China wealthy and democratic will only make it a stronger rival. Mearsheimer believes that once countries become economically strong they seek to dominate their region militarily.

Mearsheimer has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the behavior of great powers.

Mearsheimer has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the behavior of great powers

Includes bibliographical references and index

Includes bibliographical references and index. An analysis of the inevitability of war. As the Cold War fades, leaders and theorists alike speak of a new era, when democracy and open trade will join hands to banish outright war. Mearsheimer exposes the truth behind this rhetoric: in a world where no international authority reigns, hegemony is the only insurance of security.

With a number of controversial publications behind him and not least his book, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, John J. Mearsheimer has firmly established himself as one of the leading contributors to the realist tradition in the study of international relations since Kenneth Waltz's. Mearsheimer has firmly established himself as one of the leading contributors to the realist tradition in the study of international relations since Kenneth Waltz's Theory of International Politics

by John J. Mearsheimer. Just as there is no loss of basic energy in the universe, so no thought or action is without its effects, present or ultimate, seen or unseen, felt or unfelt.

by John J.

"A superb book....Mearsheimer has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the behavior of great powers."―The National Interest, Barry R. Posen

A decade after the cold war ended, policy makers and academics foresaw a new era of peace and prosperity, an era in which democracy and open trade would herald the "end of history." The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, sadly shattered these idyllic illusions, and John Mearsheimer's masterful new book explains why these harmonious visions remain utopian. To Mearsheimer, great power politics are tragic because the anarchy of the international system requires states to seek dominance at one another's expense, dooming even peaceful nations to a relentless power struggle. Mearsheimer illuminates his theory of offensive realism through a sweeping survey of modern great power struggles and reflects on the bleak prospects for peace in Europe and northeast Asia, arguing that the United States's security competition with a rising China will intensify regardless of "engagement" policies. "This is the definitive work on offensive realism."―Choice

Ohatollia
The Tragedy of Great Power Politics is an accessible history of great power behavior since the 18th century. John Mearsheimer is a professor at the University of Chicago. Mearsheimer believes that once countries become economically strong they seek to dominate their region militarily. They “are always searching for opportunities to gain power over their rivals, with hegemony as their final goal.” He calls this “offensive realism.” In the final chapter, he discusses the rise of China and predicts that it will attempt to dominate Asia. He believes that this will lead to conflict with the US.

To prove his theory, Mearsheimer examines the behavior of five countries over the last 200 years: Japan (1868-1945), Germany (1862-1945), Soviet Union (1917-1991), Britain (1792-1945), and the U.S. (1800-1990). Japan and the Soviet Union provide strong support for the theory. Before WW2 Japan was imperialistic and invaded Korea, China, and the Soviet Union. Its attempts to become an Asian hegemon inevitably led to its clash with the U.S. Russia has always been an imperialistic power and over the centuries expanded its empire from Europe to the Pacific coast. During the Soviet era, it grabbed Eastern Europe.

Germany is an example of how offensive realism can lead to disaster. After reunification in 1871, Germany started to flex its muscles and frighten its neighbors. By 1900 it had overtaken Britain to become Europe's largest economy. Russia, France, and Britain initially formed a defensive alliance, but this did not deter Germany, it just became more paranoid. Mearsheimer argues that it was inevitable that a powerful Germany would try to dominate Europe. However, historians like Margaret MacMillan believe that war could have been avoided had Bismarck still been around. Unfortunately for Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union, they were not allowed to dominate for long. They became victims of their own ambition and this seems to be the main weakness of offensive realism as a survival strategy.

Britain is not a good fit for Mearsheimer's theory. It was never interested in dominating Europe. It controlled 59% of global wealth in 1860 but it never tried to conquer Europe. Mearsheimer claims that the English Channel made invasion too difficult. However, Britain's traditional strategy was to contain potential threats by manipulating either Germany or France. This did not stop Britain aggressively grabbing territory in parts of the world where it faced little or no opposition.

Mearsheimer claims that Britain was too weak to stop the U.S. taking over its Caribbean colonies in the 19th century. Apparently, the U.S. resisted the temptation to invade because the British colonies kept slaves. He does not seem aware that Britain ended slavery long before the U.S. The main reason the US did not attack was Britain's navy. For much of the 19th century, the U.S. lacked the military strength to prevent European intervention in the New World. But since European meddling threatened British as well as American interests, the Monroe Doctrine was enforced by the Royal Navy. At the end of the 19th century, America could deploy two battleships to Britain’s forty-four.

Mearsheimer describes the U.S. as the "poster child for offensive realism." Mearsheimer sets out a narrative to explain how American foreign policy developed over the centuries. He argues that it first dominated the Western Hemisphere before extending its reach to Asia and Europe. The invasion of Canada in 1812 and the Monroe Doctrine were part of a plan to dominate the Americas. Once that was achieved the U.S. stopped Japan and Germany dominating Asia and Europe in the 20th century. The U.S. continued to view the British Empire as a threat and Roosevelt set about dismantling it during WW2. Once WW2 was won, the Soviet Union became America’s new adversary and it maintained forces in Europe to check Soviet expansion, but also to prevent the Europeans from fighting each other.

Mearsheimer argues that the U.S. is often in denial about its behavior and Americans are taught that the U.S. is altruistic and a force for good in the world. Mearsheimer states that “idealist rhetoric provided a proper mask for the brutal policies that underpinned the tremendous growth of American power.” In 1991 the U.S. became the world's only super-power and according to Mearsheimer, its main foreign policy objective was to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival. Following the difficult wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. is less certain of its global role. Mearsheimer claims that America's foreign policy elite is still largely made up of offensive realists, but these days they prefer to keep their views under wraps.

Mearsheimer believes that the rise of China brings a new set of problems. America is facing its first serious economic competitor since it overtook Britain in the 19th century. He predicts that China will pose a threat to U.S. dominance in Asia. Mearsheimer is worried that if nationalists in China continue to pursue a policy of "Asia for the Asians" this will make future conflict inevitable.

I found the book an enjoyable read but Mearsheimer has a surprisingly superficial grasp of world history. However, he does provide a helpful explanation of American foreign policy over the past 200 years. It is clear that the world will always be a dangerous place and America will continue to attract rivals trying to knock it off its pedestal.
Hadadel
If you're interested in this, you are probably a political science or international relations student, which is a shame because very few general readers would pick this up, and it's those who need it the most, this really deserves to be a best-seller. I majored in biochemistry and am an indie game developer, never took a single class in political science, but on a friend's recommendation who was majoring in that I read this book, and I've re-read it several times over the years, and it's become one of my favorite books (certainly in my top 10 of nonfiction).

Basically, this book presents an overarching theory of why wars exist, one that is precise enough to allow even uninformed readers to make predictable, and historically accurate, and precise predictions about when a country will go to war (and why). Most people believe wars to happen for one of several reasons -- "human nature" (because humans just like fighting and are inherently violent or stupid or something), or perhaps the war over religion and ideology, or perhaps over resources. I'd guess that almost everyone believes war happens for one of those reasons.

This book dispels that notion very cleanly and completely. After you read it, you'll realize that nations go to war simply because they are afraid. They know that if they lose a war against a greater power, their nation is done for -- it will become occupied, or a puppet state, of a greater power, and lose whatever power they had. Nations do not want that to happen, they are terrified of being dominated by greater nations. And this is a systematic thing, no individual might consciously decide on this, but this is how all nations do seem to work: they are afraid of being conquered, so they go to war to make sure they are the one who conquer, not the one being conquered. This central notion that fear of being conquered by another nation, and not anything else, drives almost all war is the main thesis of the book, and it's argued for very convincingly, with a lot of historical examples.

So, the first way a country can be certain it's not going to be conquered by its neighbors is to become the strongest power in its major landmass -- the regional hegemon. Most nations in a position to do so will try to gain regional power -- that is what China is doing in asia, that's what the US did the Americas, and that's what various european countries (e.g. England, France, the Dutch, the Germans, the Russians) have attempted to do for europe, and so on.

By this thesis, it may seem counter-intuitive, but according to this idea, the reason Germany went to war was not because they were nationalistic or inherently violent, or because of the ideological differences between fascism, capitalism, and communism, or because wanted to purify Europe of undesirable races, or even that they were angry over the conditions imposed on them after WW1 (though that's part of it), but simply because Germany feared being conquered and wanted to become the most powerful nation in Europe to make sure they would survive.

This is a *very* different understanding of war than most people have, I want to emphasize that again. And it sounds strange at first, but this book will probably convince you of it (as evidence, Germany in WW1 had a very different ideology, but the conditions were somewhat similar, and they still went to war, for the same reason they did go to war in WW2. Sometimes WW1 is blamed on entangling alliances or the assassination of an archduke, but, in reality, according to this theory, Germany went to war in WW1 for the exact same reason they want to war in WW2, because they saw an opportunity to become local hegemon of Europe, and took that opportunity).

If you still aren't convinced, that isn't of course the job of this review, it's the job of the book; the number of examples used in the book far exceed would I could bring up here. And the author's writing is much better than mine in any case. I'm just trying to explain why I like the book: because it gives you a different opinion of war than the usual one, and does so very convincingly, through factual argument, and explains it in a simple to understand way (you don't need to have even taken a political science course to follow along with the argument).
Barit
The title of this review is the bottom line of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics by John Mearsheimer. The central point is not that hard to grasp that the structure of the international system makes conflict between great powers inevitable. But the way he goes about both setting up and giving evidence for his theory, may bend the reader in so many different directions that great power war or the fear of great power war becomes an absolute certainty.

I hold a Master’s degree in Political Science and believes that while great power war may occur, it is the civil war type of conflicts and/or groups like Isis that deserve the world’s attention. Further, while I believe realism is an important paradigm in International Relations, the various liberal theories of International Relations and the newer third way theories also have a varying degree of explanatory power depending on the topic.

Mearsheimer’s theory only holds the amount of currency the reader gives to the realist view of the world. For me, while it is plausible the world will end up this way, offensive realism is hard to stomach.