My book review of Jeffrey Meiser’s Power and Restraint: The Rise of the United States, 1898-1941 is now available in the latest issue of Perspectives on Politics. It’s a great book, chock full of interesting and well-researched case studies of US expansionism and non-expansion.
World politics in the twenty-first century looks set to unfold in the context of major shifts in the distribution of power between leading states. How rising states act on the world stage is thus a pressing concern of International Relations theorists and foreign-policy practitioners alike. Under what circumstances do rising powers implement revisionist grand strategies to upend the international status quo? When will rising powers adopt predatory behavior, perhaps pursuing territorial expansionism at the expense of the weaker neighbors? And is it ever possible for the leaders of rising powers to exercise restraint on the world stage?
In his book, Jeffrey W. Meiser addresses these and related questions through a detailed study of US grand strategy between 1898 and 1941. Meiser argues that the US exhibited a remarkable disinclination for territorial expansion during this period—albeit with some notable exceptions—and that the country’s domestic institutions were largely responsible for its under-expansion. The lesson, then, is that burgeoning material power does not inevitably lead to expansionism on behalf of rising states: with the “right” sort of domestic configuration, rising powers can be expected to abnegate the potential fruits of their newfound strength…
Click here to read the full review.
I have a new piece included in the July edition of the Gulf State Analytics Monthly Monitor, which looks at Brexit and the future of UK relations with the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
In June 2016, the British people voted to exit the European Union—a momentous choice that took the political establishment by almost complete surprise, and which continues to reverberate through British politics. For a brief moment during April-May 2017, it seemed as though Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election over the issue of Brexit might offer an opportunity for the country to rally around a common vision of what future relations with the EU should look like. Yet the unexpected result of that election was to strip May’s Conservative party of its parliamentary majority, thus enfeebling the government and calling into question its ability to handle contentious negotiations with the EU. In short, Brexit has thrown Britain’s domestic politics into a state of turmoil and—as of now, at least—there is precious little indication that the tumult and uncertainty will lessen in the months and years to come…
Click here to read the full piece on the GSA website.
I have a new article forthcoming in The Chinese Journal of International Politics, which examines the impact of China’s rise upon party politics in Britain. The broader point is that the coming shift toward multipolarity in world politics is going to have dramatic implications for domestic and local politics, not just in the so-called periphery but also in the traditional “core” of the international system.
How is the rise of China affecting world politics? Among Western International Relations scholars, most studies of China’s rise have focused on international-level implications—the balance of power between leading states, the future of regional and global orders, prospects for hegemonic war, and so forth—or the domestic politics of states along the periphery of the international system, especially in Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In this article, I draw attention to the impact of China’s rise on the domestic politics of developed countries. In particular, I offer a case study of British politics between 2010 and 2016—a period during which politicians from both of Britain’s major political parties ‘weaponized’ China, so making it a significant feature of the domestic political topography. The overarching point is that momentous geopolitical shifts such as the rise of China are capable of reorienting domestic politics in developed (Western) countries just as much as they are in developing (non-Western) countries.
Access the article here; or here, for free access.
Picking a major can be a difficult task, and is certainly an important one. It’s a decision that all students should take seriously. Even so, it is possible to overstate the enormity of choosing a major. The stakes are not quite as high as some students imagine them to be, and so you should always try to keep the decision in perspective.
To be sure, your choice of major will help to define you as a young professional once you graduate from college. But it is only ever going to be one part of your overall professional profile—and not necessarily the most important part. You should think of your major as a stepping stone or gateway; a qualification that will enable you to pursue certain avenues but should never box you in or trap you.
First, however, a disclaimer: I’m not an academic adviser! Universities and colleges employ professionals to help students make choices about majors and minors, and those people are always going to be the best resources available to you when it comes to getting advice on such topics. What follows are merely my own thoughts about picking a major—and, of course, a shameless plug for political science as a strong choice.
In academia, letters of recommendation make the world go ’round. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one. As a student, you’ll need people to write letters on your behalf when it comes to applying for most jobs, fellowships, scholarships, prizes, awards, honors programs, graduate schools, law schools, and so forth.
So how should you go about asking for a letter of recommendation? And how do you ensure that you’ll get good ones?
My book review of American Pendulum: Recurring Debates in U.S. Grand Strategy by Christopher Hemmer is now free to view online.
It is impossible to understand contemporary or future international politics without a firm comprehension of U.S. foreign policy. Even in a supposed era of relative decline, the United States remains the wealthiest, most militarily powerful, and most influential country in the world. Simply put, how the United States chooses to discharge itself is of enduring relevance for all inhabitants of planet Earth.
In American Pendulum: Recurring Debates in U.S. Grand Strategy, Christopher Hemmer offers a schema of U.S. foreign policy intended to delineate the realm of the possible when it comes to America’s actions on the world stage. Hemmer’s approach is to catalog and scrutinize some critical dimensions along which U.S. grand strategy has varied in the past and over which national leaders have clashed. He points to four areas of disagreement in particular: the divide between unilateralists and multilateralists, the debate over how best to spread U.S. values, disagreements over the proper extent of U.S. interests, and the question of whether time is “on the side” of the United States or its adversaries. To grasp the contours of these four debates, Hemmer submits, is to know how U.S. leaders think and, by extension, to apprehend the broad range of options that exist for America as a global power—now and in the future…
Click here to read the full review on the Political Science Quarterly website.
I have a short piece on tolerance included in today’s Rocky Mountain Collegian, CSU’s excellent student newspaper. It’s a follow-up to an article I wrote last year about the need to celebrate political diversity on campus.
Last year I wrote in The Collegian that the diversity of political views at Colorado State is a major strength of our campus community. “CSU Rams should be proud of their oasis of pluralism,” I urged.“And they should be jealous guardians of its future.”
My point was that students can learn a lot from others with whom they disagree, and that we should acknowledge the value of a campus community where the free exchange of political ideas is truly fostered.
Few people would openly disagree with this sentiment. Indeed, there is a prevalent belief today that diversity of every sort—racial, ethnic, gender and so on—is an intrinsic good that needs to be promoted, protected, and celebrated. I agree. But despite the overwhelming social pressure for people to show an outward commitment to toleration in all its forms, the truth is that tolerance can be an obnoxiously difficult principle to put into practice when it counts…
Read the full piece here.