In This Review

Dangerous Peace: New Rivalry in World Politics
Dangerous Peace: New Rivalry in World Politics
By Alpo Rusi
Westview Press, 1998, 208 pp.

Rusi argues that the world is cleaving into rival regional blocs: well-defined geopolitical units marked by high tariff barriers, distinct cultural identities, and conflicting political interests. The disappearance of a common Cold War enemy supposedly loosened the ties between Europe, the United States, and Japan. Shifting economic fortunes and China's rise have also undermined the old postwar order. Technological change, however, has contributed even more to the rise of blocs. Since emerging industries can support fewer and fewer producers, Rusi argues, countries will group into organized blocs to drive up protectionist barriers and stem the outflow of jobs.

While the book's thesis is provocative, it remains underdeveloped and ill-defined. Rusi neither presents hard evidence that rivalry among industrialized nations has increased since the Cold War nor reconciles that claim with the ongoing global expansion of trade, investment, and cross-regional alliances. The impact of technological change is more complicated than the book states; in most instances it generates more, rather than fewer, links between industrialized countries through foreign investment and corporate partnerships. The book aptly notes that globalization is generating new winners and losers as well as new patterns of political conflict. But it fails to convince the reader that antagonistic blocs will be the necessary result.