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Is the West in Decline?

Historical, Military, and Economic Perspectives

Edited by Benjamin M. Rowland - Dancer Zack Aaron and Aaron Zack - Contributions by Hannes Adomeit; Dana Allin; David Calleo; Benoit d'Aboville; Mark Gilbert; Gabriel Goodliffe; Thomas Row; Benjamin M. Rowland; Stephen Szabo; Lanxin Xiang and Aaron Zack

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Is the West in Decline? is a collection of ten essays by prominent scholars of international relations and current history, many of them associated with the European Studies program of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The essays explore the question of decline from several perspectives: theoretical, historical, counterfactual, and contemporary. Thomas Row’s essay uses alternative history to show how an unfallen Habsburg Empire might have evolved into a state system resembling the European Union. Benjamin Rowland’s essay on Oswald Spengler considers how the German historian’s theory of decline could be applied to the West today. Several of the essays are country studies. Not all conclude that countries or state systems are in decline, or that the condition, if present, is irreversible. Writing about Germany, Stephen Szabo notes that only fifteen years ago, this currently robust country could have been seen as a clear exemplar of decline. Dana Allin’s essay on the U.S. asks whether a course change, including retrenchment and overseas rebalancing, might reverse decline or eliminate it altogether. David Calleo’s essay, among other things, looks at America’s reserve currency status as a principal sustainer of American exceptionalism, and asks what might happen should the U.S. lose its “exorbitant privilege” as reserve currency provider to the international system. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 234Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4985-1852-9 • Hardback • October 2015 • $90.00 • (£60.00)
978-1-4985-1854-3 • Paperback • May 2017 • $44.99 • (£29.95)
978-1-4985-1853-6 • eBook • October 2015 • $89.99 • (£60.00)
Benjamin M. Rowland is an economic policy consultant, former investment banker, and a retired World Bank staff member.
Introduction: Decline: American Style, David Calleo
Part I: Systems in Decline
Chapter 1: Spengler’s Decline of the West Revisited, Benjamin Rowland
Chapter 2: Hegemonic Decline, Emerging Great Powers, and Global Conflict: Some Considerations on the Rise of Germany and Rise of China, Zack Aaron
Chapter 3: Decline and the Rise of China: A New Perspective, Lanxin Xiang
Chapter 4: Habsburg Decline Revisited: The Virtues of Cosmopolitan Empire, Thomas Row
Chapter 5: Europe After the Crisis: A Case of Temporary or Morbid Decline?, Gabriel Goodliffe
Part II: National Studies of Decline
Chapter 6: Obama’s America and the Question of Decline, Dana Allin
Chapter 7: Germany: Resurgence, Stagnation, or Decline?, Stephen Szabo
Chapter 8: Italy’s Decline: A Case Study in Political Mismanagement, Mark Gilbert
Chapter 9: Russia as a Great Power: Revival, Stagnation, and Decline, Hannes Odemeit
Benoit d’Aboville
The consistently interesting contributions to this volume were written mainly by friends and former students of Professor David Calleo of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC. Yet its chapters are notably diverse both in their approach and in their level of analysis. . . .[A] brilliant collection.
Survival: Global Politics and Strategy


A provocative and immensely valuable inquiry by outstanding scholars into the triumphs and tragedies of nations seeking glory in the pursuit of empire.
Ronald Steel, author of Pax Americana, The End of Alliance: America and the Future of Europe, Walter Lippmann and the American Century, and other works on American foreign policy


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