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From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America's World Role Paperback – July 26, 1999
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The lessons Zakaria learns from the example of America have useful applications to contemporary political science; one might consider, for example, the ways in which a politically unified Germany or a economically powerful Japan differs from the 19th-century America that was politically and economically strong; the presence of both qualities would appear to be required for a nation to flex its muscles on the international scene. Although it never quite completely answers the "why," From Wealth to Power does extremely well on the "how" and the even more important "so?" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Mr. Zakaria persuasively illustrates [his] argument by examining America's emergence as a great power.... [His] account of turn-of-the-century American diplomacy is concise and insightful."--Aaron L. Friedberg, The Wall Street Journal
"A significant contribution to the study of international relations."--Choice
Top Customer Reviews
Mr. Zakaria, now the editor of Newsweek, wrote "From Wealth to Power" for his doctoral dissertation. Hence the tone of the work is largely academic, with plenty of references to academic debates and literature reviews. All the same, the text is accessible and hardly ever esoteric; the academic density is likely to add to rather than subtract from the enjoyment of reading the book.
What of the thesis itself? Mr. Zakaria approaches his period of examination from two alternative angles, both of which are used in the international relations literature to explain why nations expand: realism and defensive realism. The former places emphasis on why and when states choose to expand by focusing on an innate drive to power, tempered by practicability and opportunity; the latter maintains that states expand when they are faced with threats.
Mr. Zakaria, it turns out, is content with neither of the two propositions. What best explains this period of American foreign policy, he contends, is a variation of realism: state-centered realism (SCR). The important qualification of SCR is that it accounts for power conversion-the ability of the state apparatus to convert national resources into stated government objectives. This approach, Mr.Read more ›
1. A theory of foreign policy is a method of understanding past and predicting future motives, intentions or goals of a nation's interactions with others, regardless of the outcomes. This is in contrast with a theory of international politics which seeks to explain and predict outcomes. A primary goal of a theory of foreign policy is to understand and predict when a nation is likely to adopt an expansive foreign policy by increasing its military forces, asserting itself diplomatically, or attempting to annex or conquer territory.
2. The two traditional theories of foreign policy are classical realism and defensive realism. Classical realism holds that a nation will adopt an expansive foreign policy when it has the resources to do so. Defensive realism takes the position that nations develop expansive foreign policies in reaction to perceived threats. Zakaria presents his own modification of classical realism, which he calls state-centric realism. In this variation, he posits that not only must a nation have the resources to implement an expansive foreign policy, but an adequate portion of the nation's resources must be available to the state, the national government, the makers and implementers of foreign policy.
3.Read more ›
Although author Zakaria does not actually pose the question in these words, what he is looking at is not so much the question "When did America become a Great Power?" or even "How did America become a Great Power?" although he certainly loks at these two issues. The real question he seems to be asking is, "Why did it take so long for America to become a Great Power?" Of course the US went from being a few colonial settlements on the seaboard of the North American continent to being one of the five or six most powerful nations in the world in a space of only 125 years, and that was an incredibly rapid advancement. But what the author points out is, American actually possessed the ability to be a Great Power some 20-30 before it actually assumed that role.
For example, in mid-1865 the United States of America possessed the largest army and the largest navy in the world - and had built both of these gigantic war machines in the space of only four years. And, this huge military machine in 1865 did not count the manpower of the 11 Confederate states. The size of the navy is somewhat misleading because although it possessed more vessels than even the British navy at that time, most of the ships of the US Navy were either riverine gunboats and coastal monitors, or were obsolescent wooden sailing ships which were on the way to being replaced by screw-propelled iron and later, steel hulled ships.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a difficult subject for me to master. Zakaria does an incredible job of presenting this challenging information and relating it to our everyday life.Published on November 20, 2012 by Karyn Packard
I'm not a political scientist so this was a slow read for me. It's thought provoking however and is an interesting oversight of late nineteenth century American history. Read morePublished on October 11, 2012 by Blackbull
Zakaria offers a new angle for analysis of foreign policy through eyeing "State Centered Realsim". For those who are tired of reading defensive realists, the book offers easy and... Read morePublished on January 15, 2007 by Daniel Berman