24 January 2019

JOURNAL: International Affairs, Vol. 95 (No.1), 2019

The latest issue of the journal International Affairs is dedicated to “World Politics 100 Years After the Paris Peace Conference”.


World Politics 100 Years After the Paris Peace Conference
Margaret MacMillan, Anand Menon, & Patrick Quinton-Brown, Introduction: world politics 100 years after the Paris peace conference
First paragraph:

One hundred years ago the Treaty of Versailles, the centrepiece of a set of treaties and agreements collectively known as the Paris peace settlements, was signed in the glittering Hall of Mirrors in the former home of France's Sun King. For some, the war those settlements brought to an end was a distinct period in international relations, one dominated for the preceding century by a European state system that had endured since the Middle Ages

Barry Eichengreen, Versailles: the economic legacy
From the standpoint of international economic relations, the key implications of the Versailles Treaty were as follows. Signatories committed their countries to reconstructing a free and open multilateral trading system such as had existed before the First World War. Other economic institutions and arrangements, as distinct from the trading system, were noteworthy only to the extent that they worked towards this paramount goal. Moreover, in so far as those other arrangements, starting with the gold standard and international financial relations, had been integral to the success of the prewar trading system, there was a presumption that they too should be reconstructed along prewar lines. This approach was subject to multiple conflicts and contradictions. It did not take account of how the economic world had changed, creating a mismatch between prewar institutions and postwar circumstances. It enshrined—indeed, it gave legal content to—the conventional wisdom that to the victor go the economic spoils by imposing that self-same reparations burden on Germany and the other defeated Central Powers. It highlighted the conflicted nature of American attitudes towards management of the international economic system. And it did not give the Soviet Union, ultimately to emerge as the second of the twentieth century's two Great Powers, a seat at the table. While seeking to avoid exaggerating the parallels, I argue that the structure of international economic relations in the wake of the Cold War resembles in important respects the structure of those relations after the First World War.

Glenda Sluga, Remembering 1919: international organizations and the future of international order
Several of the world's intergovernmental organizations have now existed for longer than many nation-states. The centenary of the peacemaking that ended the First World War offers the opportunity of making good policy use of new histories that inform us about the shifting horizon of international expectations, the social dimensions of international thinking and international political cultures, their nation-state roots, and the sum of this relatively marginalized international past. The aim of this article is to draw together the various strands of the new historical work undertaken in the last decade in order to orientate 1919 as a moment that launched the world into a century of often profound discussion about international organizations as necessary instruments of multilateralism. This discussion sometimes dwindled, and it did not prevent wars. However, it had significant impacts: from the spectrum of ideas it brought to bear on the question of how to solve the world's most serious problems, to the practices of international governance it helped introduce. As importantly, the international order shaped in 1919 created unprecedented political spaces for representing the diverse interests of the world's populations, even the stateless. At crucial moments in the twentieth century, world-scale solutions to world-scale problems gave people ideas—even when the window of opportunity was small. If this history is good for anything, I argue that it might be for orientating our present in relation to that international past, and how we begin to imagine the future of the international order, as we know it.

Oona A. Hathaway & Scott J. Shapiro, International law and its transformation through the outlawry of war
The First World War was the last great war of what we have called the ‘old world order’—the legal regime that European states adopted in the seventeenth century and spent the next three centuries imposing on the rest of the globe. This order formed the basis of what scholars call ‘classical international law’. But this body of rules differed starkly from the ones that govern today: the old world order did not just sanction war, it relied on and rewarded it. States were permitted to wage war to right any legal wrong, and the right of the victors to extract territory and treasure from the losers was legally guaranteed. That all began to change when the nations of the world decided to outlaw war in the 1928 Kellogg–Briand treaty. As a result, the rules governing international behaviour have transformed radically—indeed, they are the polar opposite of what they once were. This article describes the decision to outlaw war and the transformation it unleashed in the world order generally, and in international law specifically. We argue that a simple but perplexing fact—that modern international law prohibits states from using force to enforce international law—is key to understanding international law and state behavior in the modern era.

Joseph S. Nye, Jr, The rise and fall of American hegemony from Wilson to Trump
A century ago, Woodrow Wilson changed America's place in the world when he sent two million men to fight in Europe, but America withdrew into isolationism in the 1930s. After the Second World War, Harry Truman and others created a framework of permanent alliances and multilateral institutions that became known as the ‘liberal international order’ or ‘Pax Americana’. Those terms have become obsolete as descriptions of the US place in the world, but the need for the largest countries to provide public goods remains. An open international order covers political–military affairs; economic relations; ecological relations; and human rights. It remains to be seen to what degree these depend on each other and what will remain as the 1945 package is unpacked. Wilson's legacy of developing international institutions continues to make sense. Leadership is not the same as domination, and it will need to be shared. There have always been degrees of leadership and degrees of influence during the seven decades of American pre-eminence after 1945. Now with less preponderance and a more complex world, American exceptionalism in terms of its economic and military power should focus on sharing the provision of global public goods, particularly those that require ‘power with’ others. Wilson's century old insights about international institutions and a rules-based order will remain crucial, but America's place in that world may be threatened more by the rise of populist politics at home than the rise of other powers abroad.

Jane Burbank & Frederick Cooper, Empires after 1919: old, new, transformed
1919 was not the death knell of empires: it opened new imperial possibilities. The empires of the losers were destroyed; victors added new territories and a new element—the mandate—to their repertoires; Japan was recognized as a major imperial actor; the Soviet Union constituted a new form of empire; Germany, chafing at its exclusion from the world of empires, created the Third Reich; the US, after promoting a new international order, developed its own way of exercising power at a distance. This article describes the varied trajectories of empires in the decades after the First World War. It notes changes in discourse and international institutions after 1919, but argues against fitting 1919 into a linear narrative of ‘empire to nation-state’. Self-determination proved a problematic concept both where it was implemented and where it was not. The forced breakup of the Ottoman Empire led to conflicts that have yet to be resolved. Anti-colonial movements fought oppression, but often sought alternatives to both old-style empires and the territorial state. Colonial empires were able to contain challenges, refine their methods of rule and claim international legitimacy. It took another catastrophe for colonial empires to be fundamentally threatened—by a war that was more the result of the reconfiguration of empires after 1919 than of their decline. The Japanese takeover of southeast Asia began the unraveling of European empires after 1945. Even then, political possibilities that reach well beyond the national continued to shape our world.
Lawrence Freedman, The rise and fall of Great Power wars
The Great War now stands as the prime example of the folly of war, an exercise in futility that was terrible in its slaughter. Yet this did not mark the end of Great Power wars. The victors believed that Germany should be penalized for its role in starting the war but this created a new set of grievances that Hitler played upon. In addition, while the norm of self-determination was an attempt to address grievances before they led to violence, the breakup of the old continental empires after 1919 was accompanied by great violence. Something similar happened as a result of the irresistible processes of decolonization after 1945. The growth of civil wars is one reason why the Great War was not the war to end all wars. As the potential gains from war declined the costs increased. The First World War picked up and accentuated tendencies in military practice, particularly when it came to targeting civilians, which had been in play before 1914. These then set the terms for the next war to be even more destructive. This was particularly true as aircraft were introduced into war as being most suitable for use against urban populations. Although this was not confirmed by the practice of air power during the Second World War, which did not achieve the anticipated strategic effects, the concluding introduction of nuclear weapons and the immediate surrender of Japan did lead to a decisive change in perceptions of the costs of Great Power war.
Yuen Foong Khong, Power as prestige in world politics
Power is shifting from the West to the East. Asia is experiencing the initial throes of this shift, where the key protagonists are the United States, the established power or hegemon, and China, the rising challenger and peer competitor. This article argues that the ongoing geopolitical competition between the United States and China is best viewed as a competition over the hierarchy of prestige, with China seeking to replace the US as the most prestigious state in the international system within the next thirty years. Although the competition is a global one, with China having made significant economic–political inroads into Africa, Latin America and even Europe, Asia is where China must establish its prestige or ‘reputation for power’ in the first instance. China seeks the top seat in the hierarchy of prestige, and the US will do everything in its power to maintain its pole position, because the state with the greatest reputation for power gets to govern the region: it will attract more followers, regional powers will defer to and accommodate it, and it will play a decisive role in shaping the rules and institutions of international relations. In a word, the state at the top of the prestige hierarchy gets to translate its power into the political outcomes it desires with minimal resistance and maximum flexibility.
Rosemary Foot, Remembering the past to secure the present: Versailles legacies in a resurgent China
In the century since the signature of the Treaty of Versailles, China's international status and material condition have been fundamentally transformed. The People's Republic has become powerful in ways that probably would have astonished the leaders of the early Republic of China, first established in 1911. These changes do not mean, however, that there are not potent legacies from China's nineteenth-century and Versailles-era experiences. In particular, the Versailles agreement showed China that gaining full membership of the international society of states would not be easy, despite its having joined the Allied side in the war effort. China's failure to gain either restitution of the territory of Shandong or proper acknowledgement of its status as a legally sovereign state added to the Chinese distrust of the West and Japan born out of their exploitative activities in China. The subsequent May Fourth nationalist demonstration of 1919 was the first of many prominent displays of nationalist outrage, a sentiment that provided opportunities for exploitation by successive Chinese governments. The article shows how the trials associated with removing China's unequal status in international politics condition and, in some respects, deform Chinese attitudes towards international politics to this day. In particular, it asks why China's remarkable resurgence has not changed official Chinese perceptions of world order, the tenor of its relations with other states and its view of its own place in international society more fundamentally than has in fact been the case
Erik Jones & Anand Menon, Europe: between dream and reality?
European political development since the Treaty of Versailles has gone through four phases. The interwar period was a time of democratic weakness and ethnic conflict that culminated in the Second World War. What followed was a period of division and yet also integration, particularly in western Europe. Western Europeans sought to transcend the nation-state through the promotion of the rule of law. The end of the Cold War suggested the victory of this civilizing mission, but that suggestion was not entirely convincing—not because of the re-emergence of ethnic conflict, but because of the increasing tension between popular and representative democracy. The economic and financial crisis brought that tension to the surface and placed a great strain on the wider integration project. The challenge is how to interpret this arc in the narrative of European history. Was unification always a dream while division remains a reality?

Margaret MacMillan & Patrick Quinton-Brown, The uses of history in international society: from the Paris peace conference to the present
History has been used—and abused—for centuries. Yet the more familiar notion of ‘history's lessons’—a notion which tends to make most historians uncomfortable, and which surely demands thoroughgoing skepticism—is far from exhaustive of history's uses in the practice and study of international relations. One important and timely subject is the more constitutive role of history in international deliberations over the creation, fragmentation and transformation of nation-states. What follows is a historical comparison of the changing ways in which the past has been used to frame the terms and content of such debates. While we will be exploring the uses of history as a guide or teacher, we propose to examine more specifically and at greater length the growth and persistence of newer uses: first, to bolster claims to independence and territory; and second, in demanding restitution in the form of financial reparations, apologies and other social privileges. By examining the ways in which history was used 100 years ago at the end of the First World War and in recent episodes of the Cold War and post-Cold War eras, we hope to show continuities and differences. What specialists must appreciate is that history is being used and will continue to be used not only within the confines of the academy, but within international society itself, where it may serve as a foundation for arbitrating political disagreements. If anything, non-specialist and popular reliance on history has grown, possibly because other forms of authority have attenuated.

(Source: ILReports)

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