The fight for peace.
After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restrait, and the Rebuilding of Order after Major Wars by G. John Ikenberry Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001 320 pp.$55.00 [ISBN ISBN
International Standard Book Number
ISBN International Standard Book Number
ISBN n abbr (= International Standard Book Number) → ISBN m : 0-691-0509-2]
In terms of national interests, this book has appeared at just the right moment. Using three case studies, John Ikenberry persuasively shows that the defense of a great power is best assured not by coercion or triumphalism, but by a shrewd, patient policy of a postwar order acceptable to winners, losers, and those states in between. After Victory laudably reduces theory to a minimum, and within that limitation, not a word is wasted. The author takes on the realists, assailing what is regarded as a false dichotomy between anarchic foreign relations (the strong dominating the weak) and domestic politics (which often as not result in the strong being blocked or attrited by coalitions of weaker parties and interest groups).
International and domestic politics are essentially the same according to Ikenberry. In order to lead victorious states must accede to restraining pacts to reassure losers, entice fence-sitters, and bind the hegemon--such as Great Britain in 1815 and the United States in both 1945 and 1990---to a larger cooperative system with constitutional characteristics. Though he overrates British power in 1815, he convincingly proves that Britain did well to offer France generous terms and prolong the Quadruple Alliance--which won the Napoleonic Wars--as a peace-regulating congress system into the 1820s. Deft diplomacy by Castlereagh secured the peace by drawing the middle powers, Austria and Prussia, into the system with generous grants of territory, conceded France its ancient frontiers, and took pains to reward and restrain Russia, Britain's chief rival at the time.
World War II ended on a note of comparable complexity. Germany, like France in 1815, was broken and beaten; the United States, like Britain 130 years before, confronted Russia across Central and Western Europe. There the similarities ended: no concert diplomacy existed between the ideologically-minded Americans and Soviets. With the Cold War in full swing, there would be no Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna was a conference between ambassadors from the major powers in Europe that was chaired by the Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich and held in Vienna, Austria, from late September, 1814, to June 9, 1815. or Paris Peace Conference Paris Peace Conference, 1919: see Versailles, Treaty of.
Paris Peace Conference
(1919–20) Meeting that inaugurated the international settlement after World War I. It opened on Jan. 12, 1919, with representatives from more than 30 countries. to tie up the loose ends. And yet America had to somehow resolve them. In a review by the Department of State in 1948, George Kennan pointed out the vulnerability to Soviet adventurism ad·ven·tur·ism
Involvement in risky enterprises without regard to proper procedures and possible consequences, especially the reckless intervention by a nation in the affairs of another nation or region: : "We have about 50 percent of the world's wealth but only 6.3 percent of its population." The United States needed to secure markets and raw materials from around the globe. Geopolitics geopolitics, method of political analysis, popular in Central Europe during the first half of the 20th cent., that emphasized the role played by geography in international relations. was enjoying a renaissance: "if the rimlands of Europe or Asia became dominated by one or several hostile powers, the security implications for the U.S. would be catastrophic." Washington came up with a two-pronged solution: contain the Soviet Union and achieve economic peace with the rest of the world. President Roosevelt had hoped that a unified, rebuilt Europe would pool its resources against Soviet aggression, but Britain and France had little enthusiasm for European union. Britain wanted America to act as a counterweight coun·ter·weight
1. A weight used as a counterbalance.
2. A force or influence equally counteracting another.
coun to Germany or Russia, but lacked the resources and political will to develop European military power that would further strain the Commonwealth. Paris shared the concerns expressed by London but also wanted U.S. troops and aircraft in Europe to relieve its forces for colonial service. In this way, NATO NATO: see North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
in full North Atlantic Treaty Organization
International military alliance created to defend western Europe against a possible Soviet invasion. was born, and Americans became committed to European bases. Ikenberry clearly spells out the issues: U.S. forces were a necessary component of the new Europe, part of that a complex system needed to make and preserve the peace.
Until the Korean War Korean War, conflict between Communist and non-Communist forces in Korea from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953. At the end of World War II, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel into Soviet (North Korean) and U.S. (South Korean) zones of occupation. , the world economy concerned Washington as much as Moscow's designs. Looking back on the 1920s and 1930s, America attributed the Great Depression and rise of fascism to the autarkic au·tar·ky or au·tar·chy
n. pl. au·tar·kies or au·tar·chies
1. A policy of national self-sufficiency and nonreliance on imports or economic aid.
2. A self-sufficient region or country. , protectionist policies pursued by many advanced industrial states. From the U.S. perspective, an open, international economic order was a prerequisite for future stability. Yet that was precisely what France and Britain did not want. Worn down by World War II, they sought revival through trade with their colonies. John Maynard Keynes Noun 1. John Maynard Keynes - English economist who advocated the use of government monetary and fiscal policy to maintain full employment without inflation (1883-1946)
Keynes actually alluded to Washington's "lunatic proposals" for a free trading system. American leaders set patiently to work again, forging compromises that would establish the United Nations, Bretton Woods, Group of Seven, and rapid integration of Japan into the global economy. These were strategies designed to broaden American power without alarming the world. Bound by these "restraining pacts" and institutions, the United States could exercise power without seeming omnipotent.
Constructing an international system like that conceived by Truman or Castlereagh is never easy, as the failed peace of 1919 amply demonstrates. President Wilson's conceit was his attempt to reinvent the world. Where other statesmen worked with the imperfect tools inherited after a war to achieve a functioning settlement, Wilson assumed that the Bolshevik revolution and collapse of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires augured a new age of liberalism and social democracy that would make old-fashioned appeals to national or strategic interest obsolete. In this context, the League of Nations was not so much idealistic as fatuous. He ignored protests from the French, British, and Congress, failing to establish an international consensus for postwar revival. Another issue was the relatively small number of American casualties, only one tenth of French or British losses. To the Europeans, the United States had not suffered enough to lead the peace effort.
Wilson had failed to grasp what Ikenberry calls "the problem of power." The Great War led to new asymmetries of power--a rich America and a shattered Europe--that bred fear and suspicion. U.S. advantages--in population, agriculture, manufacturing, raw material, and capital--were only magnified by World War I. For America to lead, it needed to engage wholeheartedly whole·heart·ed
Marked by unconditional commitment, unstinting devotion, or unreserved enthusiasm: wholehearted approval.
whole in European integration and reconstruction. Instead Wilson bypassed European statesmen and appealed directly to the masses on two trips to Europe in 1918-19. He was mobbed by newsmen, trade unionists, and the left. "I can fancy the generation of Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, and the Adamses looking on with enraptured en·rap·ture
tr.v. en·rap·tured, en·rap·tur·ing, en·rap·tures
To fill with rapture or delight.
en·rap amazement that the American spirit should have made such conquest of the world," the President stated in 1919. Quite the contrary: the end of the war caused a shift to the right in Britain and France which wanted to squeeze Germany until the "pips squeaked." The end-run by Wilson--his appeal to the "organized opinion of mankind"--alienated both Clemenceau and Lloyd George, who were essential allies.
After Victory concludes with a caution. The end of the Soviet Union left the United States at the pinnacle of power, tempting America to intervene when and where it likes while shucking off "institutional encumbrances" that the author views positively. Such encumbrances will be familiar: landmine and environmental accords, the international criminal court, and U.N. Secretary Generals (such as Boutros-Ghali). There is obviously a liberal bias in this last section of the book; there are reasonable objections to many of Ikenberry's points. But his argument is consistent: he would like the United States to return to the spirit which prevailed in the wake of World War II and renounce "hyperpower." Events over the next several years are likely to write the last chapter of this book.
Geoffrey D.W. Wawro is professor of strategic studies at the Naval War College.