Joining the growing list of international relations (IR) scholars who are turning to historical analyses of alternative, non-Westphalian diplomatic systems for insights into the creation and maintenance of political order is Ji-Young Lee, whose book, China’s Hegemony: Four Hundred Years of East Asian Domination, provides an empirically rich and theoretically insightful account of premodern East Asian international relations. The core argument of her book is that China’s hegemony was not a direct product of either its material power or its cultural appeal. Rather, Chinese hegemonic authority, measured in terms of compliant tributary practices, was co-constructed by a dominant China and its less powerful tribute-paying neighbors via mutual interactions. In particular, the book emphasizes how the domestic legitimation needs of less powerful states, such as Korea and Japan, played a key role in constructing (while sometimes adapting) Chinese hegemony during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing dynasty (1636-1911).
It is a pleasure to read Feng Zhang’s Chinese Hegemony: Grand Strategy and International Institutions in East Asian History. This book is an exemplar in its serious treatment of Chinese history, its holistic approach to East Asian history covering Inner Asia as well as Korea and Japan, its simultaneous analysis of the foreign policy strategies of both imperial China and its neighbors, and its meticulous examination of fluctuating normative and instrumental strategies in particular periods and in particular relations. It will no doubt become required reading in the International Relations literature.
For many, the U.S. experience in Iraq casts a large shadow over the current American willingness to utilize military force. This ‘Iraq-syndrome’ is a part of the broader war-weariness theoretical claim that following major conflicts – and particularly inconclusive or controversial ones – the public and policymakers will be hesitant to fight. If there were a strong Iraq syndrome, however, it has proven remarkably short-lived. With the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria the United States has engaged in thousands of air strikes in the region and started to deploy additional advisors. In the wake of the Islamic State’s November 2015 Paris attacks members of both the Democratic and Republican parties have called for more aggressive military measures.