The Clash of Ideas in World Politics

The Clash of Ideas in World Politics: Transnational Networks, States, and Regime Change, 1510-2010

John M. Owen
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    The Clash of Ideas in World Politics
    Book Description:

    Some blame the violence and unrest in the Muslim world on Islam itself, arguing that the religion and its history is inherently bloody. Others blame the United States, arguing that American attempts to spread democracy by force have destabilized the region, and that these efforts are somehow radical or unique. Challenging these views,The Clash of Ideas in World Politicsreveals how the Muslim world is in the throes of an ideological struggle that extends far beyond the Middle East, and how struggles like it have been a recurring feature of international relations since the dawn of the modern European state.

    John Owen examines more than two hundred cases of forcible regime promotion over the past five centuries, offering the first systematic study of this common state practice. He looks at conflicts between Catholicism and Protestantism between 1520 and the 1680s; republicanism and monarchy between 1770 and 1850; and communism, fascism, and liberal democracy from 1917 until the late 1980s. He shows how regime promotion can follow regime unrest in the eventual target state or a war involving a great power, and how this can provoke elites across states to polarize according to ideology. Owen traces how conflicts arise and ultimately fade as one ideology wins favor with more elites in more countries, and he demonstrates how the struggle between secularism and Islamism in Muslim countries today reflects broader transnational trends in world history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3676-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Forcible Regime Promotion, Then and Now
    (pp. 1-30)

    “Regime change”: The ungainly phrase was once a technical neologism used by social scientists to signify the alteration of a country’s fundamental political institutions. Now, around the world, it is a political term, and a polarizing one. For the verb “change” has come to imply the coercion of outside powers.¹ Regime change requires a regime changer, and in Afghanistan and Iraq the changer-in-chief has been the United States.

    America’s costly efforts to democratize these countries have continued under the presidency of Barack Obama, but President George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address remains the most striking effort to frame and justify...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Agents: Transnational Networks and Governments
    (pp. 31-52)

    In this chapter and the next I flesh out my explanation for forcible regime promotion outlined in chapter 1. We observe two types of variation in the incidence of such promotions. They occur in three long temporal waves and, within each of those long waves, they vary in frequency across time and space. Most of us agree that there was something called the Cold War from roughly 1946 until roughly 1989, and yet within that four-decade-plus period the incidence of forcible regime promotion varied enormously. Sometimes the Americans and Soviets did quite a bit of it, and sometimes they did...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Structures: Transnational Ideological Contests
    (pp. 53-78)

    In chapter 2, I argued that the clusters or short waves of forcible regime promotion we observe over the past half millennium are caused by periodic bouts of transnational ideological polarization. This polarization, entailing the progressive segregation of elites across countries according to which regime type they favor, gives governments incentives to use force to promote their regime, or topple a rival regime, in foreign states. Two types of event—a regime change in one state, or a war involving a great power—can trigger such elite polarization. These events are exploited by pre-existing transnational ideological networks (TINs) who have...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Church and State, 1510–1700
    (pp. 79-121)

    In October 1559, a French expeditionary force of 1,500 sailed north toward Scotland to aid the embattled Mary of Guise, Scotland’s Queen Regent, against a rebellion among the Scottish nobility. The French made clear that they would send 10,000 more troops if necessary to restore Mary. For 245 years, since Scotland cemented its independence from England at Bannockburn, France had been Scotland’s “auld ally.” As was typical in old-regime Europe, Scotland and France in 1559 were linked by dynastic ties that effectively subordinated Scotland to France’s powerful House of Guise. The French expedition was shipwrecked, however, and in December, Elizabeth...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Crown, Nobility, and People, 1770–1870
    (pp. 122-160)

    In December 1848, Louis-Napoleon, nephew of his infamous namesake, was elected President of France’s infant Second Republic by a wide margin, a few months after France’s third modern revolution had overturned the constitutional monarchy of Louis-Philippe. Louis-Napoleon was elected by a coalition of conservatives and moderates alarmed at the radicalism of the Republic’s provisional government. Judging from his writings prior to his election, Louis-Napoleon’s primary goal was to restore France to pre-eminence in Europe without resorting to war.¹ Upon assuming office, the new President quickly sought a congress of the great powers to renegotiate the Vienna settlement of 1814–15,...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Individual, Class, and State, 1910–1990
    (pp. 161-201)

    Following its utter defeat in May 1945, Nazi Germany was occupied by Soviet, American, and British troops, all with their own geographic zones. (France was soon ceded a zone by the Americans and British.) The Allied governments were undecided, individually and collectively, about their plans for Germany. Clearly the Nazi regime must be dismantled and Germany disabled from aggression. But elites disagreed over how far to punish and how far to rehabilitate the nation. Toward the close of his life, Franklin Roosevelt had leaned toward the plan proffered by Henry Morgenthau, his Treasury Secretary, that would render Germany permanently agrarian...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Mosque and State, 1923–
    (pp. 202-239)

    Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, and Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq, had much to fight about. They were immediate neighbors and both claimed the strategic Shatt al-Arab waterway on the Persian Gulf. Iraq was Arab, Iran, Persian. Whereas the Shah supported U.S. hegemony in the region and cooperated with Israel, Saddam leaned toward the Soviets and sought to lead the Pan-Arab movement. Notwithstanding these serious occasions for conflict, in the 1975 Algiers Agreement Saddam had relinquished Iraqi claims to the Shatt al-Arab waterway, and the Shah had ceased supporting Kurdish separatists in Iraq. In September 1977, as anti-Shah demonstrations were...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT The Future of Forcible Regime Promotion
    (pp. 240-271)

    Why do governments use force to promote domestic regimes in other countries? In a deep sense, it is because they decide that rival regimes are not the wave of the future but are only temporary, misguided attempts to organize society that will eventually exhaust themselves. Anne Morrow Lindbergh was not willing to fight to advance liberal democracy and turn back fascism because she believed that fascism was the wave of the future. As King Canute showed, it is folly to fight a wave. Morrow Lindbergh’s government, the Roosevelt administration, disagreed with her about fascism, and fought. So did Winston Churchill,...

  13. APPENDIX Appendix Concerning Data on Forcible Regime Promotion, 1510–2010
    (pp. 272-276)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 277-320)
  15. Index
    (pp. 321-332)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 333-334)