Charles A. Kupchan is Associate Professor of International Relations at Georgetown University and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
The author would like to thank participants in seminars at the following institutions for their thoughtful comments: Hebrew University, Columbia University, University of California at San Diego, Council on Foreign Relations, Georgetown University, University of California at Berkeley, Harvard University, Okazaki Institute (Tokyo), the American Center (Tokyo), and the Danish Institute of International Affairs (Copenhagen). The critiques of Michael Barnett, Richard Betts, Albert Fishlow, Gary Hufbauer, Clifford Kupchan, Joseph Lepgold, Gideon Rose, Peter Trubowitz, Ole Waever, Fareed Zakaria, and the reviewers of International Security were particularly helpful. For research assistance, I would like to thank Jason Davidson, Delphine Park, and Mira Sucharov.
1. See, for example, John J. Mearsheimer, "Back to the Future: Instability in Europe after the Cold War," International Security, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Summer 1990), pp. 5-56.
2. For general analysis of the secular processes through which the locus of preponderant power changes over time, see Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1981). During the second half of the twentieth century, U.S. economic output has fallen from roughly one-half to one-quarter of gross world product. See Jeffrey Frankel, Regional Trading Blocs in the World Economic System (Washington, D.C.: Institute for International Economics, 1997), p. 6.
3. Even if American hegemony lasts for decades more, debate about crafting a posthegemonic order should take place now, while U.S. preponderance is still sufficient to maintain the status quo. It is far more prudent to put in place the foundation of a durable order by design than simply to wait until current arrangements unravel. Many analysts agree that U.S. preponderance will not last, but few have given thought to how the prospect of decline should affect U.S. grand strategy. One exception is Christopher Layne. Layne calls for a U.S. grand strategy of offshore balancing to conserve U.S. resources and to help protect the United States from getting dragged into distant conflicts. He fails to address, however, how to promote peace as the United States withdraws from existing commitments. Instead, he makes the case that the United States should simply stand aloof from the regional conflicts likely to emerge in the wake of an American retrenchment. See Layne, "From Preponderance to Offshore Balancing: America's Future Grand Strategy," International Security, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Summer 1997), pp. 86-124.
4. On the democratic peace, see Bruce Russett, Grasping the Democratic Peace (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993); and Michael Doyle, "Liberalism and World Politics," American Political Science Review, Vol. 80, No. 4 (December 1986), pp. 1151-1169. On the declining utility of warfare, see Richard Rosecrance, The Rise of the Trading State (New York: Basic Books, 1986); and John Mueller, Retreat from Doomsday: The Obsolescence of Major War (New York: Basic Books, 1989).
5. See, for example, Norman Angell, The Great Illusion (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1911).
6. Important critiques of the democratic peace hypothesis have been collected in two edited volumes: Michael E. Brown, Sean M. Lynn-Jones, and Steven E. Miller, eds., Debating the Democratic Peace (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996); and Miriam Fendius Elman, ed., Paths to Peace: Is Democracy the Answer? (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1997).
7. On the greater stability of bipolarity, see Kenneth N. Waltz, "The Stability of a Bipolar World," Daedalus, Vol. 93, No. 3 (Summer 1964), pp. 881-909; and Mearsheimer, "Back to the Future." For arguments in favor of multipolarity, see Karl Deutsch and J. David Singer, "Multipolar Power Systems and International Stability," World Politics, Vol. 16, No. 3 (April 1964), pp. 390-406. For general discussion of polarity and stability, see Stephen Van Evera, "Primed for Peace: Europe after the Cold War," International Security, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Winter 1990/91), pp. 5-57; and Michael Mastanduno, "Preserving the Unipolar Moment: Realist Theories and U.S. Grand Strategy after the Cold War," International Security, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Spring 1997), pp. 49-88.
8. See the exchange between John Mearsheimer and his critics in "Promises...