1 earlier thought


On May 12–13, I highlighted these:

These and other propositions in this book will be controversial. In their defense I try to show that the logic that underpins them is sound and compelling. I also test these propositions against the historical record.

the structure of the international system forces states which seek only to be secure nonetheless to act aggressively toward each other. Three features of the international system combine to cause states to fear one another: 1) the absence of a central authority that sits above states and can protect them from each other, 2) the fact that states always have some offensive military capability, and 3) the fact that states can never be certain about other states’ intentions. Given this fear—which can never be wholly eliminated—states recognize that the more powerful they are relative to their rivals, the better their chances of survival.

“I have every sympathy for their situation, but if we wish to survive we have no choice but to wipe them out.” —Bismark on the Poles

Whether China is democratic and deeply enmeshed in the global economy or autocratic and autarkic will have little effect on its behavior, because democracies care about security as much as non-democracies do, and hegemony is the best way for any state to guarantee its own survival.

Let us continue live-tweeting this book.

4 later thoughts