Books and Volumes
Exit from Hegemony: the Unravelling of the American Global Order
Summary: After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States faced no great-power peer competitors. It enjoyed uncontested status as the world’s wealthiest country. The next seven largest economies all belonged to advanced industrialized democracies allied with the United States. American officials believed that the Russian Federation would become an important strategic partner. The American foreign-policy establishment convinced itself that integrating China into the global economy would nudge Beijing toward political liberalization while creating a basis for ongoing cooperation. Many foresaw a durable world order based on international liberalism and market democracy, with the United States maintaining a position of global leadership—what international-relations scholars call “hegemony.”
By the mid-2010s, though, this future looked increasingly unlikely. The United States had spent over a trillion dollars fighting wars, with mixed results, in Iraq and Afghanistan. These conflicts, and especially the Iraq War, damaged American prestige and exploded the image of invincible American power. In 2014, in response to what it perceived to be a US-backed coup-d’état in neighboring Ukraine that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, Moscow annexed Crimea, supported insurgents in eastern Ukraine, and ramped up its efforts to destabilize Western democracies. In 2015, Russia intervened in the Syrian civil war. Far from a partner and ally, Moscow increasingly committed Russian resources to undermining the American international system.
As of 2019, the Chinese economy is, in nominal terms, on track to surpass that of the United States. In purchasing-power parity terms, it already did so in 2014. After assuming power in 2013, Premiere Xi Jinping guided China toward a more assertive posture in international affairs. Beijing is using its economic clout to build a range of alternative development initiatives to those offered by the United States, Japan, and Europe; flexing its muscle in the South China Sea; and has begun to construct a modest network of overseas military bases.
Scholars see these developments as signs of a general power transition away from the United States. During such transitions, the leading power—or “hegemon”—faces increasing difficulties in maintaining its preferred international order; its relative decline encourages other states unhappy with that order to seek to renegotiate terms, build alternative arrangements of one kind or another, probe for weaknesses, and even directly challenge the dominant power or its allies. In the worst-case scenario, peaceful adjustment to the changing distribution of military and economic capabilities proves impossible; as it did in World War I and World War II, the system collapses into a devastating great-power war.
This possibility, which political scientist Graham Allison calls “The Thucydides Trap” is currently something of a minor obsession in foreign-policy circles. However, American hegemony can unravel without anyone ever firing a shot. In this book, we contend that the international system has already gone quite far down several pathways out of hegemony. These include great-power challenges, changing behavior of small or weaker states, and new forms of transnationalism that destabilize previous norms and agreed upon foreign policy frameworks. President Trump may be speeding up the journey, but major drivers of hegemonic unraveling predate him and will continue after his presidency. Indeed, Trump himself is as much a symptom of these developments as a cause, which has implications for those hoping to reverse his impact on international order.
The Struggle for Power in Early Modern Europe: Religious Conflict, Dynastic Empires, and International Change
Summary: Scholars have long argued over whether the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which ended more than a century of religious conflict arising from the Protestant Reformations, inaugurated the modern sovereign-state system. But they largely ignore a more fundamental question: why did the emergence of new forms of religious heterodoxy during the Reformations spark such violent upheaval and nearly topple the old political order? In this book, Daniel Nexon demonstrates that the answer lies in understanding how the mobilization of transnational religious movements intersects with–and can destabilize–imperial forms of rule.
Taking a fresh look at the pivotal events of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries–including the Schmalkaldic War, the Dutch Revolt, and the Thirty Years’ War–Nexon argues that early modern “composite” political communities had more in common with empires than with modern states, and introduces a theory of imperial dynamics that explains how religious movements altered Europe’s balance of power. He shows how the Reformations gave rise to crosscutting religious networks that undermined the ability of early modern European rulers to divide and contain local resistance to their authority. In doing so, the Reformations produced a series of crises in the European order and crippled the Habsburg bid for hegemony.
Nexon’s account of these processes provides a theoretical and analytic framework that not only challenges the way international relations scholars think about state formation and international change, but enables us to better understand global politics today
Winner of the 2010 International Security Studies Section Book Award, International Studies Association
Undermining American Hegemony: Goods Substitution in World Politics
Summary: Advancing a new approach to the study of international order, this book highlights the stakes disguised by traditional theoretical languages of power transitions and hegemonic wars. Rather than direct challenges to US military power, the most consequential undermining of hegemony is routine, bottom-up processes of international goods substitution: a slow hollowing out of the existing order through competition to seek or offer alternative sources for economic, military, or social goods. Studying how actors gain access to alternative suppliers of these public goods, this volume shows how states consequently move away from the liberal international order. Examining unfamiliar – but crucial – cases, it takes the reader on a journey from local Faroese politics, to Russian election observers in Central Asia, to South American drug lords. Broadening the debate about the role of public goods in international politics, this book offers a new perspective of one of the key issues of our time.
Harry Potter and International Relations
Summary: Why not take seriously the claim that Harry Potter’s world intertwines with our own? In this timely yet otherworldly volume, more than a dozen scholars of international relations join hands to demonstrate how this well-loved artifact of popular culture reflects and shapes our own lifeworld. A wide range of historical and sociological sources shows how Harry’s world contains aspects of our own. Practices such as quidditch dovetail quite clearly with ‘muggle’ sports, and the very British-ness of the books has, in translation into languages such as Turkish and Arabic, been transformed to reflect these unique cultures. Chapters on the political economy of the franchise as well as the scholarly problems of studying popular culture frame what is essentially a highly info-taining read.
International Institutions and Power Politics International Institutions and Power Politics: Bridging the Divide, eds. T.V. Paul and Anders Wivel. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2019 🔗
Interpersonal Networks and International Security: the Case of US-Georgia Relations during the Bush Administration
With Alexander Cooley.
The New Power Politics: Networks and Transnational Security Governance, eds. Deborah Avant and Oliver Westerwinter. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016: 74-102. 🔗
American Military Diplomacy in Practice
With Captain Miriam Krieger and Lieutenant Commander Shannon L.C. Souma.
Diplomacy: The Making of World Politics, eds. Ole Jacob Sending, Iver B. Neumann, and Vincent Pouliot, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015: 220-255. 🔗
One Cheer for Classical Realism
With Peter Henne.
Religion and the Realist Tradition, ed. Jodok Troy. London: Routledge, 2013: 164-176. 🔗
States of Empire: Liberal Ordering and Imperial Relations
With Paul Musgrave.
Liberal World Orders, eds. Tim Dunne, Trine Flockhart, and Marjo Koivisto. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013: 211-230. 🔗 | Our Chapter 📄
With Peter Henne.
Battlestar Galactica and International Relations, eds Nicholas Kiersey and Iver Neumann. London: Routledge, 2013: 206-218. 🔗
No Leap of Faith Required
Religion and International Relations Theory, ed. Jack Snyder, New York: Columbia University Press, 2011: 141-167. 🔗
Discussion: American Empire and Civilizational Practice
Civilizational Identity: The Production and Reproduction of ‘Civilizations’ in International Relations eds. Patrick Thaddeus Jackson and Martin Hall, New York: Palgrave (2007): 109-116. 🔗
Religion, European Identity, and Political Contention in Historical Perspective
Religion in an Expanding Europe, eds Timothy Byrnes and Peter Katzenstein, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2006): 256-282. 🔗
Children’s Crusade: The Religious Politics of Harry Potter
With Maia A. Gemmill.
Harry Potter and International Relations, eds Daniel Nexon and Iver Neumann, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield (2006): 79-100. 🔗
Representation is Futile? American Anti-Collectivism in the Post-Cold War Era
With Patrick Thaddeus Jackson.
To Seek Out New Worlds: Science Fiction and World Politics, ed. Jutta Weldes, New York: Palgrave (2003): 143-168. 🔗
Globalization, the Comparative Method, and Comparing Constructions
With Patrick Thaddeus Jackson.
Constructivism and Comparative Politics, ed. Daniel Green, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe (2002): 88-120. 🔗