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Your theory, if I understand it right, says the opposite: wars occur regardless of the international system, as random events distributed along some kind of function, so a world war may be the cause of a hegemon's demise instead of the hegemon's demise causing the world war.

This juxtaposition assumes that world wars can only start because competing strategic interests make escalation the rational move for every relevant party at every step on the path to war. But that's not true. The hegemon and the prospective challenger can misread each others' red lines and find themselves in a situation where enough of their moves are forced by the internal logic of the rules of their domestic policy game that they cannot back out.

See, e.g., the US oil embargo on Japan in 1941. A similar policy applied to China today would almost certainly result in a broad spectrum of responses, a great number of which could lead to armed confrontation. Not because China would win, but because it cannot not act in response to a fuel embargo.

And the more you meddle in the internal affairs of other countries - in other words, the more dominant your hegemony is - the greater the risk that you will back a semi-peripheral power into a corner that you did not realise was there.

So there are important diseconomies of scope of hegemony - which is why hegemons fall in the first place.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 03:59:31 PM EST
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