1. Theory and the application of hegemonic power
The idea of hegemony, in the general sense in which it has been employed by scholars of international relations and historians since the 1970s, has been intended to deepen understanding of the behaviour of states possessing characteristics that qualify the states as hegemons and the effect of that behaviour upon the international system. But the lengthy debate over hegemony has failed to characterize adequately the distinction between hegemonic power and its use by policy-makers in the hegemonic state. Analyses of the role of hegemonic states in the international system that seek to explain the rise and fall of hegemons mechanistically, such as the theory of hegemonic stability in its various permutations,Charles P. Kindleberger, The World in Depression, 1929–1939 (Berkeley, CA, 1973; Stephen D. Krasner, ‘State Power and the Structure of International Trade’, World Politics, 28:3 (1976) pp. 317–43; Robert O. Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge, 1981); Robert O. Keohane, After Hegemony (Princeton, 1984); Duncan Snidal, ‘The Limits of Hegemonic Stability’, International Organization 39:4 (1985), pp. 579–614. have not explained successfully either the behaviour of policy-makers in the governments of hegemonic states or the variety of resulting effects upon the hegemon and the international system within which it operates.Conybeare’s theory of the tariff-setting behaviour of large and small states, for example, by Conybeare’s own admission fails to explain the behaviour of the two most important trading powers over the period that he considers, Britain and the United States whilst hegemons. See John A. C. Conybeare, Trade Wars: The Theory and Practice of International Commercial Rivalry (New York, 1987), pp. 22–7, 44–5, 272–6. Hegemonic stability theory has paid too little attention to the process of policy-making in the hegemonic state. What makes hegemony a useful characterization for discussion and analysis (separate from the more general analysis of ‘large’ economies or ‘powerful’ states) is that hegemonic states possess a combination of types of power resources that, insofar as that power is used, allows hegemonic states to affect the international system in ways that other, merely large states cannot. This makes the distinction between power and its use, as well as the question of awareness of power by policy-makers, more important with respect to hegemons than to other states.