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When force is used effectively, it has fundamental consequences for the global system. For example, following World War II, the United States recast the international system in a much more successful manner than the British did following the previous great war, solidifying the role of the United States in the world during the 20th century. Military occupation and the resulting change in political and economic systems, aided in the transitions of Germany, Italy and Japan into stable democratic members of the international community.

The United States altered the political preferences and goals of populations in these countries to one more consistent with the international norms instituted for the global hierarchy led by the United States. The Cold War evidenced a similar end: the Soviet challenge was halted not because of ideological or military confrontation, but because the Soviet Union dissolved due to its internal bankruptcy and adopted an open market economy and an elementary democratic system.

Experience demonstrates that changing preferences is the path to stability and prosperity. A unified strategic framework would provide a guide to the future of a complex evolutionary process. Such a framework could lead to understanding world structures, because it allows decision makers to anticipate periods of confrontation and cooperation. Knowing the likely threats permits policy prioritization and timing.

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This kind of framework has been absent from US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. This article represents a first step towards using empirically tested propositions to frame future world politics within a strategic perspective. Figure 1 integrates and relates in a dynamic fashion the central variables of our strategic argument: power, hierarchy, satisfaction and the probability of war or peace. It illustrates interactions among the three key variables under the condition that the international hierarchy is dominated by one recognized preponderant power. This theoretical framework, described in policy terms in the earlier paragraphs, draws many conclusions, but one in particular stands out in its strategic importance: wars in dark grey occur at the global level when a dissatisfied challenger sees an opportunity to take on the pre-eminent international leader.

Under an equal distribution of power, peace and integration in light grey may take place, but only when major global participants all agree on the set of norms and rules that govern world politics. Thus, even though the power distribution in Europe was similar to that preceding World Wars I and II, peace broke out and integration followed because nations shared common institutions and norms as established by the United States. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union it became clear, albeit slowly, that the theoretical proposition that a balance of power guaranteed peace was inconsistent with the structural reality of the international system.

Global peace is maintained when there is one overwhelmingly powerful dominant country. Figure 1 intellectually turns the balance of power concept on its head. The basic argument of power parity is that key contenders in the international system challenge one another for dominance when they anticipate that the prospects of overtaking the regime leader are credible. An important new insight emerges from Figure 1. Conflict can still take place despite strong power asymmetry, but its severity will be much reduced. This deduction is supported by empirical evidence.


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After , the United States emerged as the preponderant power. Despite US preponderance, these wars were not deterred but losses were reduced. The probability of conflict under parity is high, thus the conflict, but the structural constraints imposed by satisfaction kept the severity of that war limited. This new representation of the parity model also offers a formal answer to the argument of Choucri and North that the theory is inconsistent in failing to account for the peaceful transfer of control over the world hierarchy from England to the United States. It is not just power relations—as realists would argue—that lead nations to wage conflict.

Agreement or disagreement with preferences, in coordination with parity, leads to war and peace. This leads us to the final unexpected implication of the graphic that informs our political strategy. At the bottom left corner, Figure 1 accounts for the process of integration. Integration is the most important new phenomenon emerging since World War II. A comparison of Figures 1 and 2 shows that this process is most likely in a post-overtaking asymmetric period.

Deutsch et al. They indicated that integration did not take place when nations were at parity. A hierarchy dominated by a preponderant nation imposes high costs for conflict on smaller challengers and reduces costs for integration. This produces a bias towards stability. The dominant power desires to maintain the status quo. No single party is willing to carry the burden of integration, and concurrently each member of the hierarchy is able to enhance individual growth by avoiding the costs of the collective good.

Thus, rather than supporting trade opportunities that lead to expansion among all, large nations that can affect the market price of goods impose tariffs in a selfish attempt to advance their own growth. The internal mobilization of resources, and effective alliance formation or neutralization, can be manipulated in response to policy changes. A reliable strategic perspective is needed to make choices in world politics, particularly for the United States, as key decisions can sway the balance in favour of either global stability or instability. There is substantial empirical support for the power parity proposition throughout the conflict literature.

However, given the widely held belief among practitioners and academics that the underlying logic of balance of power is correct, these two research directions continue to develop side by side. The collapse of the Soviet Union is one such critical test that has awakened the need to reformulate long-held beliefs.

No one can argue today that Russia presents a direct threat to the Western world or that another challenger of a similar magnitude is already in place; yet stability increased after the decline of the Soviet Union. Further, the emergence of asymmetry in nuclear weapons combined with the re-targeting of such weapons by both the United States and Russia make it difficult to argue that Mutual Assured Destruction continues to preserve the existing stability in the international system.

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Power parity provides the structural conditions for conflict and cooperation. While power is central to the deductions of balance of power and power parity, the conditions that lead to war and peace are very distinct. Moreover, each perspective provides different substantive policy advice. The parity approach allows contenders to anticipate the choice of peace or war.

When there is an extended dispute—in particular, a lasting territorial dispute—that creates the underlying condition required for a serious confrontation. Military buildups and arms races are predictors of the willingness of contenders to choose war over peace when both parity and an extended dispute are present.

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Werner and Kugler show that these conditions are associated historically with the overwhelming number of choices to wage major war. Applying the power parity logic to the Asian region permits us to determine which interactions have the potential to escalate to a serious confrontation and possibly a major war. These interactions, while being potentially dangerous, are not deterministically conflictual and can be resolved peacefully even though they appear threatening at this time. Figure 3 presents the relative power and income of the main international competitors compared with that of the United States from extrapolated to At the global level, the lack of an open confrontation between the United States and Russia, so feared by most analysts during the Cold War, is completely consistent with the power parity perspective.

Between and , despite arms buildups and ideological confrontations, the USSR did not approach or overcome US preponderance. Furthermore, following the breakup of the Soviet Union the prospects for such an overtaking are remote.

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This means the probability of war between the US and Russia well into the future is quite remote even if they have significant policy disputes. Next consider the US—European relationship.

No challenger to the US is expected to arise here. The largest, Germany, even after re-unification only approaches the size of Japan. Again, given the population base of major European nations, none can overcome the United States in the foreseeable future, or challenge China or India. Thus, the probability of a confrontation between any European country and the United States is very small and such a conflict would not be severe. The same can be said of the EU.

Power Transition And International Order In Asia: Issues And Challenges (Asian Security Studies)!

The EU is not yet a united political unit capable of action at the global level, but if a major drift away from the United States takes place, NATO collapses and the EU moves towards a federated state, the possibility of conflict will increase. If all these very unlikely events take place, the conflict between the United States and the EU could be severe.

From our strategic perspective, therefore, the outcome of the Iraq war is far less important for American security than the resulting impact on relations with Europe. If this conflict continues to divide the Western Allies and affects the working of NATO and the expansion of the EU, a fundamental challenge to American security could follow. If differences are patched up, the major loss is an opportunity to help accelerate the integration of Europe, in particular the incorporation of Russia into the Western Alliance.

Building a strong coalition between Japan, Russia and the EU is necessary for the maintenance of United States as the dominant nation among the main contenders in the next half century. The Asian challenge may not be avoidable, but it can be postponed and more effectively managed only with a strong Western Alliance that attracts Russia and maintains Japan within its fold. The arguments outlined above cast a clear and unambiguous focus on Asia, and in particular on China. The United States and China are locked in a long-term competition for economic primacy. China, today the smaller challenger, is growing at a much faster rate than the more mature economic engine of the United States.

This dynamic change is generating the conditions for an overtaking in the future, anticipated to be between and From our strategic perspective, this places China into the zone of parity and potential transition with the United States. Our empirical work shows that under conditions of parity, peace is achieved when both parties are satisfied.

But if the challenger is dissatisfied, the probability of war increases dramatically. If this happens, with its huge population, China's resulting economic parity likely will metamorphose into military superiority. Figure 3 also indicates that if China grows to its full potential, it would become the leading nation in the international system by Both nations now have nuclear weapons. At some point in the future, however, China will achieve a Mutual Assured Destruction level equivalence with the United States.

When that happens, the conditions for a potential confrontation will re-emerge.

Power Transition in Asia and Indian Foreign Policy

This fact has not escaped the attention of the intelligence community and a number of academics. The key question from a parity perspective is not whether China will be the dominant nation in world politics by the end of the century, but whether a dominant China would openly challenge the existing international regimes or join and lead the pre-existing international community.

History provides examples of each. On the other hand, the UK, when overtaken by Germany early in the 20th century, was forced to wage two World Wars to decide dominance over the world hierarchy. Only after the precursor to the EU shifted political attitudes did Germany overtake Britain in peace. The key to stability is the challenger's satisfaction with the status quo.