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This chapter offers a plausibility probe of IST in the case of China and the contemporary liberal international order. The LIO – a multifaceted set of institutions covering a range of security and non-security issues – has contributed immensely to China’s economic growth, diplomatic influence, and national security. China, nonetheless, opposes some and embraces other parts of the international order. The chapter shows that existing theories of revisionism struggle to explain this pattern of cooperation and discord in China’s approach. It then traces China’s status aspirations in the post-Cold War period and applies IST’s predictions to China’s stances in various prominent international institutions. The chapter concludes that IST can broadly apply in this case across institutions and issue areas, though further research is required to decisively demonstrate this claim.
This chapter traces India’s status concerns from independence in 1947 leading up to the advent of the NPT in the late 1960s. It examines India’s approach to nuclear weapons during this period and derives expectations for how India would react to an international treaty such as the NPT from two competing perspectives: material interests and IST. It tests these hypotheses through a detailed account, based on primary sources, of India’s approach to nuclear proliferation and positions taken in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) negotiations of 1954–1956 and in the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament from1962 to 1969. It finds that although India faced a major nuclear threat from China, India supported nonproliferation and universal nuclear disarmament, so long as the international nuclear negotiations allowed symbolic equality with the great powers and the door to joining the nuclear club remained open. When the superpowers drafted an NPT that effectively froze the number of recognized nuclear powers for the next 25 years, Indian perceptions of the openness and fairness of the international order changed, leading India to reject the NPT and undertake the very costly and risky step of testing a nuclear weapon.
This chapter traces the United States’ status concerns from the early nineteenth century leading up to the 1856 Declaration of Paris. It examines the US approach to the maritime laws of war during this period and derives expectations for how the United States would react to an international agreement such as the Declaration of Paris from two competing perspectives: material interests and IST. It tests these hypotheses through a detailed account of the US approach to the international maritime order from the 1820s, when the United States began rising, to 1856, when the Declaration of Paris became the first universal instrument of international law; as well as in the opening stages of the Civil War when the Union government strongly considered signing the Declaration. It finds that contrary to the commercial interests and status aspirations that influenced initial US support for the maritime laws of war, the country’s leaders rejected the Declaration of Paris and sought to undermine it through an alternative (failed) treaty, because the United States was excluded from the deliberations leading to the Declaration and US leaders viewed the Declaration as relegating America to the status of a second-rate power.
In August 1993, as the shadow of the Cold War began its slow retreat, the United Nations (UN) Conference on Disarmament decided the time was ripe to negotiate a treaty banning nuclear tests once and for all. The end of superpower competition had led three of the five official nuclear powers – the United States (US), Russia, and Britain – to announce testing moratoriums, and nonnuclear states were eager for a universal ban.1 The biggest potential spoiler was China. A “vocal outsider to the global nuclear order”2 and a “latecomer to the nuclear club,”3 China had historically viewed test ban efforts as “ploys intended to monopolize nuclear weapons and solidify the larger nuclear powers’ advantages.”4
This chapter traces Japan’s status concerns from the late 19th century leading up to the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty. It examines Japan’s approach to naval power after the First World War and derives expectations for how Japan would react to an international agreement such as the Washington Naval Treaty from two competing perspectives: material interests and IST. It tests these hypotheses through a detailed account of Japan’s approach to the Washington Conference of 1921–1922. It finds that although Japan faced a growing threat from the United States in the Western Pacific, Japan accepted greater restraints on warship construction in order to maintain its access to the great power club, alongside Britain and the United States, as part of the ‘Big Three’ at the conference. Subsequently, the US Immigration Act of 1924, which unprecedentedly banned Japanese immigration to America, served as a major betrayal of Japan’s sacrifices for the sake of the international order, thus altering Japanese perceptions of the openness and fairness of the Washington system. It convinced many moderates that the West would never consider Japan its equal, and it empowered anti-treaty factions begin the costly process of abrogating Japan’s commitment to the Washington system.
This chapter discusses IST itself as well as the research design of the book. It provides a detailed exposition of the key variables of the theory: the status-seeking strategies of rising powers, institutional openness, and procedural fairness. It discusses the causal mechanism that explains the impact of openness and fairness on a rising power’s status and corresponding choice of strategy. It generates four possible strategies a state may follow: cooperate, challenge, expand, and reframe. On research design, the chapter describes the scope conditions of the theory, definitions of key concepts, case selection, research methodology and sources, and the observable implications of the theory and how they differ from the observable implications of alternative (materialist) explanations.
This chapter recapitulates IST’s central assumptions and predictions, as well as the findings from the case studies. It identifies a number of empirical patterns emerging from the cases, which suggest areas for future research. The chapter also identifies alternative methodologies for testing IST and concludes with a discussion of IST’s implications for theories of power shifts and international order. Finally, it discusses the policy implications of IST for the future of the liberal international order.
This chapter lays down the conceptual foundations of Institutional Status Theory. It situates IST in the literature on status in world politics, and on social identity in particular. It elaborates on the concept of status as an intrinsic value and as a role that entails symbolic equality with higher-status actors, as distinct from status as a set of valued attributes. It discusses the psychological and social foundations of IST, in particular its relationship to and difference from constructivist theory. Finally, the chapter theorizes the great-power club and international institutions as sites of status struggles.
Why do rising powers sometimes challenge an international order that enables their growth, and at other times support an order that constrains them? Ascending Order offers the first comprehensive study of conflict and cooperation as new powers join the global arena. International institutions shape the choices of rising states as they pursue equal status with established powers. Open membership rules and fair decision-making procedures facilitate equality and cooperation, while exclusion and unfairness frequently produce conflict. Using original and robust archival evidence, the book examines these dynamics in three cases: the United States and the maritime laws of war in the mid-nineteenth century; Japan and naval arms control in the interwar period; and India and nuclear non-proliferation in the Cold War. This study shows that the future of contemporary international order depends on the ability of international institutions to address the status ambitions of rising powers such as China and India.