Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
After Victory

After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order after Major Wars

G. John Ikenberry
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 320
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    After Victory
    Book Description:

    The end of the Cold War was a "big bang" reminiscent of earlier moments after major wars, such as the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the end of the World Wars in 1919 and 1945. Here John Ikenberry asks the question, what do states that win wars do with their newfound power and how do they use it to build order? In examining the postwar settlements in modern history, he argues that powerful countries do seek to build stable and cooperative relations, but the type of order that emerges hinges on their ability to make commitments and restrain power.

    The author explains that only with the spread of democracy in the twentieth century and the innovative use of international institutions--both linked to the emergence of the United States as a world power--has order been created that goes beyond balance of power politics to exhibit "constitutional" characteristics. The open character of the American polity and a web of multilateral institutions allow the United States to exercise strategic restraint and establish stable relations among the industrial democracies despite rapid shifts and extreme disparities in power.

    Blending comparative politics with international relations, and history with theory,After Victorywill be of interest to anyone concerned with the organization of world order, the role of institutions in world politics, and the lessons of past postwar settlements for today. It also speaks to today's debate over the ability of the United States to lead in an era of unipolar power.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2396-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
    (pp. 3-20)

    At rare historical junctures, states grapple with the fundamental problem of international relations: how to create and maintain order in a world of sovereign states. These junctures come at dramatic moments of upheaval and change within the international system, when the old order has been destroyed by war and newly powerful states try to reestablish basic organizing rules and arrangements. The end of the ColdWar after 1989 is seen by many contemporary observers as the most recent of these great historical moments. With the dramatic collapse of the bipolar world order, the question not asked since the 1940s has recently...

    (pp. 21-49)

    It is widely agreed that domestic and international politics are rooted in very different types of order. Domestic politics is the realm of shared identity, stable institutions, and legitimate authority, whereas international politics is, as one realist scholar recently put it, a “brutal arena where states look for opportunities to take advantage of each other, and therefore have little reason to trust each other.”¹ In the most influential formulation, the two realms have fundamentally different structures: one based on the principle of hierarchy and the other on anarchy.²

    But are the two realms really so dissimilar? Both domestic and international...

    (pp. 50-79)

    The aftermath of major war presents the winning state with choices. The destruction caused by war and the breakdown of the old order provide opportunities to establish new basic rules and organizing arrangements that are likely to persist well into the future; the stakes are high.

    At such postwar junctures, the leading state has three broad choices. One is to use its power to dominate the weaker and defeated states. It won the war and it has acquired the power to do so. Domination can be pursued in the settlement itself, by imposing severe penalties and extracting oversized reparations from...

  4. Chapter Four THE SETTLEMENT OF 1815
    (pp. 80-116)

    The peace settlement that ended the Napoleonic wars in 1815 gave Europe the most elaborately organized political order yet. Led by Great Britain, the European states mounted a sustained effort to find a mutually agreeable, comprehensive, and stable order; this effort culminated in the celebrated Congress of Vienna. By most measures the order was, in fact, quite successful. War among the great powers ceased for forty years and an entire century would pass before the international order was again consumed by a general European war.¹

    The Vienna settlement departed from earlier postwar settlements in the way the leading state attempted...

  5. Chapter Five THE SETTLEMENT OF 1919
    (pp. 117-162)

    Of all the great postwar settlements, the peace of 1919 has provoked the most study, controversy, and regret. The “failure” of the Versailles settlement has been the source of unending debate over the causes and implications of the lost peace, the limits of liberal internationalism, and the possibility of international order based on democracy, self-determination, and the rule of law. No peace settlement has been more frequently invoked in public and scholarly argument about the sources of peace and the lessons of history.

    The peace settlement after World War I is striking in several respects: it involved the most explicit...

  6. Chapter Six THE SETTLEMENT OF 1945
    (pp. 163-214)

    The settlement that followed the Second World War was both the most fragmented and most far-reaching of any postwar settlement in history. This was the first major war in history that did not end with a single comprehensive peace settlement. Peace treaties were not concluded with the major axis powers, Japan and Germany. The Charter of the United Nations, unlike the Covenant of the League of Nations, was not attached to the peace settlement.¹ And yet, in the years between 1944 and 1951, the United States and its allies brought about history’s most sweeping reorganization of international order.

    World War...

  7. Chapter Seven AFTER THE COLD WAR
    (pp. 215-256)

    The end of the Cold War has evoked comparisons with 1815, 1919, and 1945. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later brought to a sudden end four decades of superpower conflict. The old bipolar international order disappeared, and a new distribution of power took shape. The United States and its allies claimed victory, while the Soviet Union and its allies either slipped into oblivion or political and economic disarray. In the search for historical comparisons and lessons, scholars have good reasons to look back at earlier postwar settlements.¹


  8. Chapter Eight CONCLUSION
    (pp. 257-274)

    “One knows where a war begins but one never knows where it ends.” So remarked Prince von Bulow, looking back at the bloodiest war in history, the collapse of Europe’s great empires, and the chaotic spectacle of Versailles—all of which seemed to follow from shots fired by a lone gunman in Sarajevo.¹ States rarely finish wars for the same reasons that they start them. The destruction of war extends far beyond the battlefield. States, societies, and political institutions are inevitably changed by war and sometimes destroyed. War is also one of history’s great catalysts in rearranging the international distribution...