Thursday, September 1, 2022

Rohan Mukherjee's "Ascending Order"

Rohan Mukherjee is Assistant Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was previously Assistant Professor at Yale-NUS College, Singapore. He is a former Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the MIT Security Studies Program and non-resident Fellow at the United Nations University in Tokyo.

Mukherjee applied the Page 99 Test to his new book, Ascending Order: Rising Powers and the Politics of Status in International Institutions, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Ascending Order sets the scene for a case study of the United States as a rising power in the 19th century. The page discusses how US leaders after the Revolutionary War emulated the practices of the European great powers in the domain of maritime law, as a way of gaining acceptance and entry into the club of great powers that dominated the international order. The page also begins to describe how access to this club was restricted after the Napoleonic Wars, when five European great powers (Britain, Russia, Prussia, Austria, and France) formed the Concert of Europe in 1815.

The Page 99 Test works reasonably well for my book, because it shows how a rising power may follow existing rules to gain acceptance among the great powers.

Ascending Order is about the strategies rising powers pursue to achieve equal status with the great powers. The great powers maximize their own power and international status by acting as an exclusive club that co-manages the international order, or the rules and institutions of international cooperation and conflict. Rising powers seek entry into this club as aspiring great powers and co-managers. But which strategy will they choose to assert their claim to equal status?

The central insight of the book is that a rising power’s choice of strategy will depend on the openness and fairness of the core institutions of the international order. A state’s leaders are more likely to cooperate with an order that is open in terms of who gets to lead and fair in terms of how rules are applied across members. Rising powers are less likely to cooperate when the leadership ranks of the order are closed to new members or its rules are biased in favor of the great powers, or both.

Page 99 of Ascending Order provides a glimpse at how the US followed existing maritime law when the international order was relatively open and fair, in the early 19th century. It would soon become less open under the Concert of Europe, leading US leaders to alter their strategy of seeking equality with the great powers. Similar patterns can be found in the other case studies of the book, on Japan and naval arms control between the two World Wars, India and nuclear nonproliferation in the Cold War, and China in the post-Cold War ‘liberal international order’.
Visit Rohan Mukherjee's website.

--Marshal Zeringue