Order-building logic – Disintegration dynamics

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I found myself asking questions. How can legitimate, durable order be established in the context of highly asymmetrical power relations? Or, in the Weberian formulation, how is coercive power turned into legitimate domination? (Pg.xi)

These are power transitions when states—the victors and the vanquished—find themselves standing on the rubble of war, negotiating over the rebuilding of the basic rules and principles of world politics. Major wars are like massive earthquakes that open up gaping cracks in the earth’s surface, exposing the deep substructures of power and interests. To study postwar moments is to put on the hat and boots of a geopolitical archaeologist and climb down into newly exposed layers of geopolitical strata. (Pg.xii)

For Gilpin, international order was not just an equilibrium condition or the crystallization of the distribution of power. Major states built order. It existed in the organizing principles, authority relations, functional roles, shared expectations, and settled practices through which states do business. But Gilpin offered no theory for how power was turned into authority, nor a substantive explanation for variation in the logic and character of order across the cycles of rise and decline. (Pg.xii)

The theoretical focus of the book is the order-building logic of the leading state or states as it is manifest in postwar settlements. Great power war has destroyed the old order. Winners and losers emerge. The distribution of power has shifted, often dramatically. How do states that win major wars go about building order? (Pg.xiii)

How do states in this situation spend and invest these assets? How do they engineer order out of disorder and power disparities? My answer is that the type of order that emerges hinges on the availability of mechanisms to institutionalize and restrain power. If institutions cannot be put in place to entrench and restrain power—to establish commitments and path-dependent institutional relationships—the order will move in one of two directions: toward a balance of power or toward imperial dominance. In these instances, power is not restrained and order is established either by a balance of power or by an imbalance of power—that is, by anarchy or empire. But if restraint and commitment can be established in institutionalized relationships, a door is opened, and more complex and cooperative orders are possible. Strategic restraint is the “passport” to these other worlds of order. (Pg.xiv)

“offering restrictions on its power can be a source of power”

The claim is that other states are more likely to do business with you—that is, bandwagon rather than balance against you—if you can credibly establish that you will follow agreed-upon rules and norms. (Pg.xv)

The institutions allow the leading state to invest in its future well-being.

The weaker and secondary states also get something from the institutional bargain. First, they get a leading state that, at least to some extent, is made more benign and cooperative than it would be without the institutions. The institutions may not completely pin Gulliver down. But they help shape and constrain how hegemonic power is manifest. Second, the institutions provide these lesser states with “voice opportunities” within the order. The institutions provide a playing field and channels of access to bargain with the lead state.

In the context of a postwar settlement, this logic might make sense to both the powerful and the weak. The powerful state has a surplus of power, at least for a while until the other states rebuild from the war, so it has incentives to invest some of that surplus in future gains. The institutions provide the vehicle to do so. They want to extend the “returns to power” into the future. Weaker and secondary states have incentives to accept this bargain because they want their “returns to power” to come sooner rather than later. They need to rebuild and get on their feet, so they have a larger discount rate. After all, in locking themselves into institutions, they get some protections and rights of access, and, in the future, they might be able to modify the institutional bargain to reflect changed power realities.
Looking back on this argument, I am struck by two additional observations. First, the disparities of power themselves seem to provide incentives toward—rather than simply constraints on—institutional bargains.

‘It is precisely because the states involved in the postwar settlement are unequal that they have heightened incentives for a deal.’

The leading state, because of its power advantages, wants to use them to lock other states into the order, reduce its enforcement costs, and invest in the future. Weaker and secondary states want rules and institutions as protections against the possibility that the leading state will become a despotic hegemon. Second, it is interesting that for a powerful state, offering restrictions on its power can be a source of power. This is a neglected dimension of power. But it is also a clever way to use power. This is particularly true when the leading state’s aim is to create a legitimate postwar order. Exercising power through restraint leaves fewer scars—that is, evokes less of the anger and resentment that tends to follow from the direct use of coercive power. (Pg.xvi) https://a.co/glaFqq9 A

Strategic culture consists of two basic elements

I argue that strategic culture consists of two basic elements: (a) a central paradigm that supplies answers to three basic, related questions about the nature of conflict in human affairs, the nature of the enemy, and the efficacy of violence; and (b) a ranked set of strategic preferences logically derived from these central assumptions. (Loc.xi)

In essence I argue, contrary to my initial expectations, that there is evidence of two Chinese strategic cultures, one a symbolic or idealized set of assumptions and ranked preferences, and one an operational set that had a nontrivial effect on strategic choice in the Ming period. (Loc.x)

The operational set reflects what I call a parabellum or hard realpolitik strategic culture that, in essence, argues that the best way of dealing with security threats is to eliminate them through the use of force. This preference is tempered by an explicit sensitivity to one’s relative capacity to do this. In other words, at its simplest, the operational strategic culture predisposes those socialized in it to act more coercively against an enemy as relative capabilities become more favorable. This is consistent with what Vasquez calls an “opportunity model” of realpolitik behavior, where “states need no special motivation to threaten or use force; rather they are always predisposed to do so, unless restrained by contextual variables” (Vasquez 1993: 115). (Loc.x)

THE SOVIET MILITARY exhibited a preference for the preemptive, offensive use of force that was deeply rooted in a Russian history of external insecurity and internal autocracy. The United States has exhibited a tendency towards a sporadic and reluctant though messianic and crusading use of force that is deeply rooted in a fundamental belief in the aberrance of warfare in human relations and the moralism of the early republic. China has exhibited a tendency for the controlled, politically driven defensive and minimalist use of force that is deeply rooted in the statecraft of ancient strategists and a worldview of relatively complacent superiority. (Pg.1)

Gray’s definition led him to the sweepingly simplistic conclusion that there is one U.S. strategic culture that is incapable of conceptualizing a war-fighting, war-winning nuclear doctrine, and that this feature distinguishes it from the one Soviet strategic culture. Like most mechanistically deterministic cultural arguments, Gray’s conclusions avoided ample counterevidence; namely, the evidence that in operational terms planners in the Strategic Air Command always considered counterforce war-fighting war-winning options (Kaplan 1983, Pringle and Arkin 1983, Herken 1985, Sagan 1987).12 (Pg.15)

Reginald Stuart’s work on the American war myth, for instance, traced the development of a myth about how Americans think about and behave in wars—a myth rooted in republican nationalism of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. This myth implies—to use a term Stuart does not, but that fits—that U.S. strategic culture stresses the aberrance of war, but also promotes a crusading anti-Clausewitzian totalistic and moralistic approach to fighting wars (Stuart 1982, chap. 7). (Pg.15)

American thought on war; there is a recognizably Clausewitzian, realpolitik strain in American military thinking historically. This tradition viewed war as an inevitable feature of interstate relations, and recognized the need to use force to expand militarily, if necessary, for national interests, and not simply for great causes. (Pg.15)


But this leaves the relationship between strategic culture and strategic behavior even more ambiguous. Is the relationship one of instrumentality? That is, is the strategic-culture myth used consciously to mask or justify essentially nonstrategic culture-derived behavior? Or is strategic culture used semiconsciously as the language of debate, with little or no awareness of the disjuncture between this language and actual strategic choices? (Pg.16)

A variation on this theme of instrumentality was provided by Robin Luckham in his study of “armament culture.” In contrast to other writers on strategic culture, Luckham argued that armament culture is not a product of national historical development, but of global historical processes. He defined armament culture as arms fetishism that establishes an essential causal relationship between modern weapons, military superiority over enemies, and security. This fetishism seeps into all aspects of culture and mentality. Human consciousness embraces the weapons-security link and accepts that it is powerless in the face of the “war system” to alter it, and thus accepts as self-evident truths the necessity of arms racing, nuclear deterrence, etc. This arms culture serves the interests of its producers—strategists, statesmen, soldiers, and arms manufacturers. Culture is, in this sense, instrumental, but it is cross-national. It is not unique to ethnocultural systems, but it is unique to a level of global industrialization, militarization, and capitalization (Luckham 1984: 1-2). (Pg.17) https://a.co/2x9vFlv B

Evgeny Messner 1891–1974

While they were not part of Soviet military thought, it is worth surveying the ideas of Evgeny Messner (1891–1974). Messner was an officer in the Imperial Russian Army and later fought for the Whites during the civil war (Domnin 2005, 22–23). He was a staunch anticommunist, and his works were prohibited in the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, his thoughts were revived in Russian military thought in the 1990s and 2000s and are particularly evocative of many modern views of war in the Russian military debate (see Fridman 2018, 70–73). The revival of Messner’s thought was due to his focus on the psychological dimension of war, the erosion of values and societal cohesion, the creation of revolts, and the blurring of the boundaries of war and peace, all of which regained popularity in the 2010s. (Pg.58)

Messner argued that “in the present era it is easier to disintegrate the state than to conquer it with weapons. (Pg.59)

He argued that “in previous wars, the conquest of the territory was important. Henceforth, the conquest of souls in the hostile state will be the most important” (Messner 1960, 109). With this understanding of the center of gravity, Messner saw notable changes in war itself:

In the past wars, the front line dividing the enemies was vague where the partisans in the rear of one side or another blurred it. In future wars, war will not be linear but on the entire surface of the territories of both enemies because behind the military front there will be political, social, economic fronts; war will not be two-dimensional [land and sea], as in the past, nor three-dimensional, as it became with the birth of military aviation, but four-dimensional, with the psyche of the belligerent populations as the fourth dimension. (Messner 1960, 109) Messner saw that a subversion-war was “first and foremost psychological: If in classic wars, the psychology of permanent armies was of great importance, then in the present epoch of national troops and belligerent popular movements, psychological factors become dominant” (Messner 1960, 101). He continued: “The people’s army is a psychological organism, the people’s movement is a purely psychological phenomenon. The war of troops and popular movements—subversion-war—is a psychological war” (Messner 1960, 101). (Pg.60) https://a.co/cwuhQZY B

“not the overthrow, but territorial dismemberment. “

The decision to secede represents an instance of political disintegration, when the citizens of a sub-system withdraw their political activities from the central government to focus them on a centre of their own. When the leaders of both a seceding community and the state express their positions in stark, absolute terms, the avenue of compromise is often precluded, thereby causing secessionist conflicts to be among the most bitter of struggles.

Thus, secession is disintegrative in the most fundamental sense: it involves not the overthrow of existing government institutions, but rather the territorial dismemberment of a state. In this book, I refer to the groups attempting secession as “distinct communities.”

I propose that the timing of the decision to secede can be understood within a framework structured around four primary variables: (1) the benefits of continued membership in the larger existing political entity;’ (2) the costs of such membership; (3) the costs of secession; and (4) the benefits of secession. Some costs and benefits are clearly qualitative; others are extremely difficult or even impossible to quantify.

Secessions arise only when the distinct community determines that there has been a shift in the balance of these four variables. The types of changes the distinct community so identifies occur at both the level of the state and the international system. These changes include both rapidly moving events, such as a sequence of political or economic initiatives, and gradual transformations of attitudes, such as mounting discrimination or growing tolerance of diversity.

What is most important for the study of the dynamic of secession is not a resolution to this ethical debate, but rather an understanding that the debate exists and will persist with each new secession crisis.

Moreover, the numerous case studies may reveal the extent to which a state’s treatment of its distinct communities contributes to the decision to secede. A fuller explanation of the connection between changes in the four primary variables and the decision to secede would reveal the conditions under which states can influence such decisions. It would indicate the policies useful in the pursuit of particular outcomes in the secession dynamic and the limits of their effectiveness. Thus, from a better understanding of the “snapshot,” we may be able to sketch in the rest of the moving picture. (Loc.102)https://a.co/2x9vFlv C

Klemens von Metternich 1773-1859

Klemens von Metternich 1773-1859

If we leave aside the origins of the Metternich family, which go back to the Middle Ages, we shall be traversing seven past landscapes, separated by six historical transition points that mark alterations in the political system. Together, they led Metternich and his contemporaries from the age of the ancien régime right up to the beginnings of modernity in the nineteenth century.
We may define a historical experience as being of an epochal nature if it engraved the collective memory of its contemporaries with such force that, throughout their lifetimes, it did not let go of them and kept resurfacing in their conversations, recollections, and interpretations. For each of our seven epochal experiences, our brochure will also briefly indicate the perspectives from which they were perceived at the extreme ends of the political spectrum.

  1. The first of Metternich’s seven epochs lasted from his early childhood to the formative years of his youth (1773–1788). He was a sensitive observer, and during those years he witnessed the splendor and apocalyptic atmosphere of the ancien régime, as well as the intellectual fascination of the Enlightenment sweeping through aristocratic and bourgeois circles. The years between 1766 and 1777, in particular, saw the formation of a coherent generation, which would go on to provide Europe with its leading intellectual, political, and military figures. It was for this generation, which we shall later have occasion to characterize more precisely, that the historiographical labels “Generation Metternich” (for those born around 1773) and, seen from the opposite end of the political spectrum, so to speak, “Generation Bonaparte” (beginning in 1769) were coined.1 All its members were embedded within the old cosmopolitan Europe of enlightened erudition as it could be found, in a more reserved style, in the busy metropolis of London, in fiery style in the seething intellectual hotbed that was Paris, and in a more measured and engaged style of laborious elaboration on the pulpits and in the offices of many German university and residential towns, where the attempt was made to combine the tradition of German public law, which reached back hundreds of years, with the challenges of enlightened rationality.
  2. This old cosmopolitan Europe disintegrated under the onslaught of a dual crisis. When the Atlantic revolutions captured the old Continent in the form of the French Revolution in 1789, they drew in the young Metternich and his family as they steamrolled over the Rhineland, the Austrian Netherlands, and the United Provinces. In a first war (1792–1797), a coalition of German, Dutch, Spanish, British, Italian, and Russian troops tried to fend off the new age that was dawning. While some of his contemporaries still harbored timid hopes for a reform of the old “German freedom,” others believed that they would not be able to break the resistance of the old powers without terror.
  3. In the almost twenty-five years from 1792 to 1815, which saw an almost uninterrupted world war raging (and, given what scholars have established about these years, it is no exaggeration to say this), Metternich experienced this new kind of clash between nations and empires, first as an envoy, then as the foreign minister of the Austrian monarchy. Napoleon, the alleged “world soul on horseback,” in Hegel’s words,2 put his stamp on this conflict. For some he was the “man of the century,” for others an example of the worst kind of military despot. It was an epoch which confused those living through it, not least the peoples that were subjected to foreign rule: it produced bloody wars of unprecedented proportions at the same time as it promised freedom and moral progress for mankind. The Napoleonic myth seemed to embody this Janus-faced nature almost perfectly. What war actually meant, what it brought about, and how one might use it in new ways for the purpose of progress and in order to ruthlessly destroy one’s enemies—these were among the questions which occupied the Metternich generation.
  4. The following epoch comprises the years 1815 to 1830. It saw what Paul Schroeder called the “construction of the nineteenth-century system” of European states, which remained in place between the Vienna Congress of 1814–1815 and the European revolutions of 1848–1849. This system functioned as a large and effective mechanism for the prevention of wars and revolutions, and within it Metternich acted as the “coachman of Europe,” to go by the not entirely accurate epithet he was given. He himself believed that the fragile European structure could only, at best, be patched up and given a series of makeshift repairs that might, perhaps, succeed in avoiding another great European war. Such a war, he believed, would be more devastating than any of the previous ones. To his enemies, this was the politics of Metternich’s “restoration.”
  5. In 1830, this new war, so feared by Metternich, seemed to be in the cards. Starting out from Paris, the July Revolution spread to most of the European Continent, especially to its southern parts. From then on, people’s expectations oscillated between two poles. On the one hand, there were hopes for a “spring of nations,” which, however, could be brought about only by a large uprising, or perhaps by a massive war waged by an alliance of the enslaved peoples. This outcome was propagated by the “Young Germany,” the “Young” Poland, Italy, or Hungary. On the other hand, there was the constant fear of a renewed outbreak of an uncontrollable terror which might entail the collapse of all civilization.
  6. The sixth epochal experience emerged out of the European revolutions of 1848–1849. For some, these signaled a move toward unified nation-states with free and democratic Constitutions. For others, Metternich among them, the revolutions meant the beginning of a time in exile and represented an unresolved crisis within the process of modernization. It was this crisis which fueled the growth of nationalism in the first place and thus destroyed the relations between the old states of Europe.
  7. The seventh epoch, finally, comprised the mastery of the revolutions, the “reaction,” and—in the case of the Habsburg Monarchy—a long-overdue bureaucratic modernization in the form of neo-absolutism. (Pg.4)

I assume that, after their long historical journey with Metternich, the readers of the present biography do not expect a succinct conclusion that summarizes what they can, as it were, “carry home in black and white.”2 Upon the death of our protagonist, the travel guide, however, does not take his leave in silence; although a book comes to an end, reflection on its content does not—at least not for those who find enough in it to want to further pursue some of the questions it raises. (Pg.746) https://a.co/3j4XsRs D

WE&P by: EZorrilla.

A) “After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order after Major Wars, New Edition (Princeton Studies in International History and Politics Book 161)” by G. John Ikenberry

B) “The Russian Understanding of War: Blurring the Lines between War and Peace” by Oscar Jonsson

C) “The Dynamic of Secession (Cambridge Studies in International Relations Book 64)” by Viva Ona Bartkus

D) “Metternich: Strategist and Visionary” by Wolfram Siemann, Daniel Steuer

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