Liberal Leadership: Great Powers and Their Challengers in Peace and War

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Liberal Leadership: Great Powers and Their Challengers in Peace and War

By Mark R. Brawley
Cornell University Press, 1993
210 pp. $32.50
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The central focus of this book, as of many others coming out of the academic subdiscipline of international political economy, is to explain the role of "liberal hegemony" in the international system. It argues that liberal international economic systems do not just happen; they are created when an open trading system is seen as being in the interests of dominant players, who then use its often noneconomic power to enforce the rules of the game. The attitudes of other players toward this system, whether of support, challenge or "free-riding", are seen as functions of economic factors like relative capital or labor abundance. This issue is of particular relevance now, as the United States has visibly retreated from a position of global leadership in the economic realm and no other country seems poised to take up the mantle. This book provides case studies of Dutch, English and American efforts to establish hegemonic liberal systems and provides a useful perspective on international competition that is often seen exclusively in security terms. As with other works in this vein, however, there is a tendency here to see war as simply a continuation of economic competition by other means and to reduce national motivation to variables like relative "factor endowment."

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