Friday, July 15, 2016

Evan Braden Montgomery's "In the Hegemon's Shadow"

Evan Braden Montgomery is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan public policy research institute focused on national security strategy, defense planning, and military investment options.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, In the Hegemon's Shadow: Leading States and the Rise of Regional Powers, and reported the following:
In the Hegemon’s Shadow tackles a straightforward but surprisingly understudied question: how does the leading state in the international system respond to rising regional powers? Although the appearance of new great powers has received far more attention, the emergence of new regional powers can also impact world politics in significant ways. Consequently, debates over whether to accommodate or oppose these regional powers have weighed heavily on leading states in the past.

For instance, at the turn of the 20th century, policymakers in Great Britain were trying to manage an increasingly capable Japan. Just a few years earlier, this island empire in East Asia fought a successful war against China, which was not only the stronger power on paper, but was also an informal British ally. Now that Tokyo had supplanted its rival, however, London faced a dilemma. On the one hand, Japan could be a very useful partner against Russia, which was expanding into the region. On the other hand, Japan was also an expansionist power in its own right, and could provoke a conflict that Great Britain was not prepared to fight.

Page 99 finds British policymakers wrestling with this tradeoff:
As an emerging regional power, Japan was also a revisionist power, whereas Great Britain hoped to preserve the status quo, or at least prevent it from deteriorating any further. Admittedly, Tokyo shared many of London’s objectives in China, specifically, restricting Russian influence to Manchuria and preserving what remained of the Open Door. Nevertheless, British policymakers feared the possibility that Japan might instigate a conflict with Russia to secure its dominant position in Korea, where London had few interests beyond preventing St. Petersburg from acquiring a naval base.
Ultimately, Great Britain opted to sign an alliance with Japan—a very capable but potentially very dangerous new partner. With China suffering from both internal and external threats, it was no longer able to withstand Russian aggrandizement. Tokyo, therefore, would take its place as a barrier to St. Petersburg, or so policymakers in London hoped.

Perhaps more importantly, this case is not unique. Leading states have had to choose between accommodating and opposing new regional powers on a number of occasions. Sometimes regional powers have presented significant opportunities. At other times they have presented great risks. And in cases like the rise of Japan, they have presented a complex mix of the two. The central goal of In the Hegemon’s Shadow is to explain how leading states navigate these situations.
Visit Evan Braden Montgomery's website.

--Marshal Zeringue