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3 - The logic of order: Westphalia, liberalism, and the evolution of international order in the modern era

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 September 2014

G. John Ikenberry
Princeton University, New Jersey
G. John Ikenberry
Princeton University, New Jersey
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In War and Change in World Politics, Robert Gilpin offers a sweeping account of the rise and decline of states and international order. It is a cyclical theory of war and order building. Wars create winners and losers, opening up opportunities for a leading state to emerge hegemonic and organize the system. Over time, power and wealth eventually diffuse, new challengers emerge, and hegemonic war follows – and a new order is forged in its wake. States rise up and build international order – and they rule over that order until they grow weak and are challenged by a newly powerful state. This is a strikingly evocative vision of power, order, and change in world politics. But the character of order and the logic of change remain sketchy in Gilpin’s vision. What precisely are the sources of international order and its persistence? If order is based on more than material capabilities, what role do ideology and legitimate authority play? There has also been a wide variation in the types of international order that have made appearances across the centuries and within various regions. What accounts for the variations in the types of orders that major states have built? In the last two centuries, liberal capitalist states have risen to global dominance. How has this liberal ascendency shaped or influenced the logic and character of great-power rise and decline and international order building?

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2014

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