Blogging on the Shoulders of Giants
After writing on John Mearsheimer’s recent lecture at the University of Sydney for GW Discourse, I realized that my previous post on the problem of US foreign policy goals was about a week too late in coining the paradox of American hegemony, in which a state that should be acting as a status quo power acts in a reckless, revisionist fashion. Not only did Mearsheimer say it first, but he says it much better:
This is not to deny that most Americans, like most Chinese, think that their military is a defensive instrument; but that is not the way it looks when you are at the other end of the rifle barrel. Thus, anyone in China seeking to gauge American intentions by assessing its military capabilities is likely to think it is a revisionist state, not a status quo power.Lastly, there is the matter of America’s recent behavior and what that might tell us about future U.S. actions. As I said earlier, past actions are usually not a reliable indicator of future behavior, because circumstances change and new leaders sometimes think differently about foreign policy than their predecessors. But if Chinese leaders try to gauge how the United States is likely to act down the road by looking at its recent foreign policy, they will almost certainly conclude that it is a war-like and dangerous country. After all, America has been at war for 14 of the 21 years since the Cold War ended. That is 2 out of every 3 years. And remember that the Obama administration is apparently contemplating a new war against Iran.