Peter Gowan on Neil Smith, American Empire: Roosevelt’s Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization. The neglected career of a key thinker of American expansionism, and his scenarios for a world order after the age of European imperial dominance.
War is famously good for geography and during two world wars Isaiah Bowman, protagonist of Neil Smith’s American Empire, was the professional geographer closest to the heart of Washington’s postwar reconstruction. In 1917, on the eve of the us entry into World War One, the ambitious young director of the American Geographic Society was recruited by Edward House as a central member of Woodrow Wilson’s Inquiry, the group charged with preparing us positions for the peace settlement. Bowman was Wilson’s chief territorial adviser at the Paris Conference and, in 1921, a founding director of the Council on Foreign Relations with Elihu Root. His geopolitical survey, The New World, published the same year, became ‘a handbook for the budding American Century’. Bowman was attached to the State Department under Roosevelt’s administration, before and during World War Two, and sat on the Advisory Committee on Postwar Foreign Policy from 1942. A visceral anti-communist—and President of Johns Hopkins—he died of a massive heart attack in 1950.
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The Ways of the World
In an interview recorded earlier this year, Peter Gowan recalls his political and intellectual trajectory, from the end of empires to Marxist militancy, from Eastern Bloc shipyards to the rise of the Dollar–Wall Street Regime.
Crisis in the Heartland
Against mainstream accounts, Peter Gowan argues that the origins of the global financial crisis lie in the dynamics of the New Wall Street System that has emerged since the 1980s. Contours of the Atlantic model, and implications—geopolitical, ideological, economic—of its blow-out.
Twilight of the NPT?
Responding to Dombey, Peter Gowan asks why such an unequal treaty has attracted so many adherents—and why its superpower beneficiary has sought to undermine it. Do impasses around the NPT signal failures for US dominance?
A Radical Realist
Peter Gowan on Christopher Layne, Peace of Illusions. A maverick mole inside realist international-relations theory, overturning orthodox accounts of US global strategy.
Peter Gowan on Mark Leonard, Why Europe will Run the 21st Century. Panglossian manifesto for a Blairite Europeanism as model for the new Atlanticist world order.
US : UN
The American origins of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945, and the duality of US usages and conceptions of it ever since: from the Cold War through the collapse of the USSR to today’s war on terror and occupation of Mesopotamia.
Instruments of Empire
Peter Gowan on Andrew Bacevich, American Empire. A clear-eyed colonel examines the swords and deeds of the us state in the post-Cold War world.
A Calculus of Power
John Mearsheimer’s Tragedy of Great Power Politics disdains liberal-imperial rhetoric for a tough-minded theory of ‘offensive realism’. Peter Gowan argues that, whatever its merits, the behaviour of states in the international system cannot be dissociated from the internal dynamics of the political orders they protect.
Peter Gowan on Giovanni Arrighi and Beverly Silver: Chaos and World Governance. Plotting the different axes of any international hegemony, and the prospects for American supremacy in the new century.
A reigning doctrine of international relations proclaims that, despite everything, the world is entering a new epoch of hopeful cosmopolitanism—narrow state sovereignty being overcome by the common and, where necessary, armed resolve of a ‘Pacific Union’ of democratic nations. What then of the asymmetric hegemony of the United States?