Aaron L. Friedberg is Associate Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and Director of the Research Program in International Security at Princeton's Center of International Studies.
The author wishes to thank Desaix Anderson, Henry Bienen, Thomas Christensen, and Min Xin Pei for their comments and Geoffrey Herrera for research assistance.
1. One recent study concludes similarly that "regional multipolar processes are likely to become a more and more important feature of international politics." Thomas J. Christensen and Jack Snyder, "Predicting Alliance Patterns," International Organization, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Spring 1990), p. 168. For another analysis that also foresees a movement toward regionalization see Joseph A. Camilleri, "Alliances in the Emerging Post-Cold War Security System" (unpublished manuscript), March 11, 1992.
2. See John Mearsheimer, "Back to the Future: Instability in Europe After the Cold War," International Security, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Summer 1990), pp. 5-56.
3. For explications of these views see: Stephen Van Evera, "Primed for Peace: Europe After the Cold War," International Security, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Winter 1990/91), pp. 7-57; Robert Jervis, "The Future of World Politics: Will It Resemble the Past?" International Security, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Winter 1991/92), pp. 39-73; Jack Snyder, "Averting Anarchy in the New Europe," International Security, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Spring 1990), pp. 5-41; James M. Goldgeier and Michael McFaul, "Core and Periphery in the Post-Cold War Era," International Organization, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Spring 1992), pp. 467-491; Richard H. Ullman, Securing Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991); and letters by Stanley Hoffmann and Robert Keohane in "Correspondence: Back to the Future, Part II: International Relations Theory and Post-Cold War Europe," International Security, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Fall 1990), pp. 191-194. Jervis and Goldgeier and McFaul make the same arguments more generally about the relations among the nations of the "developed world," i.e., Western Europe, the United States and Japan (Jervis), or the "great powers" of the advanced industrial "core" (Goldgeier and McFaul).
4. By the second decade of the twenty-first century, East Asia's economic output is likely to exceed that of both North America and the European Community. See Urban C. Lehner, "Belief in an Imminent Asian Century Is Gaining Sway," Wall Street Journal, May 17, 1993, p. A12.
5. Throughout this essay I use the term "Asia" to refer to the region extending from Southwest Asia, across China to Northeast Asia and including the offlying islands at the western edge of the Pacific rim. (See map, p. 33.) The list of "poles" or "major powers" around which a new Asian sub-system will take shape includes, by virtue of their location and their actual and potential military capabilities, China, Japan, Russia, and perhaps India. Whether the United States remains an Asian power will depend on its willingness to continue to project some fraction of its military might into the region.
6. Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley, 1979), p. 161.
7. For the first round in this debate see Karl W. Deutsch and J. David Singer, "Multipolar Power Systems and International Stability," World Politics, Vol. 16, No. 3 (April 1964), pp. 390-406; Kenneth N. Waltz, "The Stability of a Bipolar World," Daedalus, Vol. 93, No. 9 (Summer 1964), pp. 881-909. Waltz elaborates his position in Theory of International Politics, pp. 129-193. Similar views are expressed in Mearsheimer, "Back to the Future," pp. 13-18. For elaborations of the deductive arguments on all sides see Van Evera, "Primed for Peace," pp. 33-40; Richard Rosecrance, "Bipolarity, Multipolarity, and the Future," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 10, No. 3 (September 1966), pp. 314-327; Patrick James and Michael Brecher, "Stability and Polarity: New Paths for Inquiry," Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 25, No. 1 (1988), pp. 31-42; Alvin M. Saperstein, "The 'Long Peace'—Result of a Bipolar Competitive World?" Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 35, No. 1 (March 1991), pp. 68-79. For efforts to resolve the question empirically see Michael Haas, "International Subsystems: Stability and Polarity," American Political Science Review, Vol. 64, No. 1 (1970), pp. 98-123; and Jack...