Evolution of World Politics

Key Times

Before the nation-state

500 - 1648

Politics before the nation-state:

  • Stateless societies ("tribes") - bands, chiefdoms
  • Kingdoms, Empires
  • Power and influence was restricted to a small, privileged group, and legitimated by tradition and religion.

Relations with outsiders:

  • War, pillage, feuds and alliances
  • Exchange of gifts, tributary relations
  • Trade existed, but was limited in scope.

European Empires of the Middle Ages:

  • Were multi-ethnic, e.g. 'Holy Roman Empire' 962-1648 (encompassed modern Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, parts of France and Italy)
  • Monarch's right to rule considered to come from God, not from the people
  • Monarch's power (in theory) subordinate to power of the Pope Various Kings contested this e.g. Henry VIII of England.

The nation-state in international politics

1648 - 1918

Collapse of multi-ethnic European empires (1648-1918):

  • Swept away by rising tide of nationalism
  • Authority of Catholic Church challenged
    - Renaissance (scientific inquiry)
    - Rise of Protestantism (rejected hierarchy of Catholic Church and Vatican).

  • Treaty of Westphalia (1648): Recognition of principle of state sovereignty - Birth of the modern state system

  • Right of each Prince to determine religion of own state

  • Recognition of exclusive sovereignty over own lands and people.

Key features of the nation-state

  • Sovereignty, acknowledges no higher authority
  • Acts in the name of "the nation" (the people, etc)
  • May demand that the people make sacrifices in the name of "their" state.

The expansion of the European system

1648 - 1815

The "Westphalian system" operated on balance of power:

'Multipolar system': Britain, France, Prussia/ Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia
Rival coalitions of great powers deterred each other
- This prevented large-scale wars
- This only broke down twice, but with catastrophic consequences
* French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars
* World War I.

European Colonialism :

  • Westphalian system did not deter wars of conquest of weak states "outside" the system
  • European states created great colonial empires
  • When non-Europeans revolted against colonialism, they appealed to the principle of "national self-determination"
  • Idea of "nation-state" spread to Americas, Asia and Africa.

Pax Britannica

1815 - 1914

Britain emerged as the dominant world power after the Napoleonic Wars:

  • Period of relative peace within Europe following Congress of Vienna (1815)
  • British Empire came to control most key naval trade routes and enjoyed unchallenged sea power
  • Underpinned by industry, empire and naval supremacy.

The age of catastrophe

1914 - 1945

End of multipolar 'balance of power' system in Europe:

  • Two great alliances of European powers clash
  • France/ Britain/ Russia/ Italy v Germany/ Austro-Hungary/ Ottoman empire. World War I ends in social collapse, mutiny, revolution:

The Russian Revolution and the rise of Communism
* Unstable economic recovery followed by the Great Depression (1929)
* The rise of Fascism.
* Intensifying international rivalries:

Imperial Protectionism, economic nationalism
* Ideological conflict – communism vs fascism vs liberal democracy
* Rise of Non-European powers (US, Japan)
* Failure of League of Nations, and 'appeasement' at Munich Conference (1938).

The Cold War

1945 - 1991

Origins:

  • US and USSR the dominant powers after World War II
  • End of anti-Nazi "Grand Alliance"
  • Bipolar system emerges
  • Failure of cooperation in UN
  • Division of Europe into spheres of influence
  • Tensions over nuclear weapons
  • Collapse of colonial empires, independence of former colonies

The Cold War declared (1947):

  • Truman's policy of "containment"
    - Global opposition to Soviet expansion and/or influence
    - US sponsored regional alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO, 1949) and ANZUS (1952)

  • Zdhanov's "two camps" speech

Post Cold War trends. American supremacy: a unipolar age?

1991 - 2008
  • US emerges from Cold War as 'hegemonic power'
  • Principally in military terms
  • US economy stronger than Europe or Japan in 1990s.

Constraints on U.S. Power:

  • Military power is better at deterring than compelling
  • Military power is best suited for dealing with other militaries
  • Not as well suited to dealing with non-state actors, insurgents
  • New economic competitors in 21st century
  • Economic crisis 2008 - present.

Economic crisis (ongoing)

2007 - 2012

After the "unipolar moment"?

  • Rise of China, India, decline in US economic power
  • 'Limited unipolarity'? – noting limits on US power
  • Reemergence of multipolar system?
  • 'Modified' multipolar system (with EU, UN as key actors?).

Impact of 9/11 and "Global War on Terror":

  • New security threats (including terrorist acts against civilians)
  • Traditional national security approaches less effective in 'asymmetrical' context.

Key Events

Holy Roman Empire

962 - 1648

encompassed modern Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, parts of France and Italy

Rise of Protestantism

1517 - 1550

"In the 16th century, the followers of Martin Luther established the evangelical (Lutheran) churches of Germany and Scandinavia. Reformed churches in Hungary, Scotland, Switzerland and France were established by John Calvin and other reformers such as Huldrych Zwingli. In addition, John Knox established a Calvinist communion in the Church of Scotland and also the Reformed Church in Hungary[citation needed]. The Church of England became independent of papal authority, and was influenced by some Reformation principles. There were also reformation movements throughout continental Europe known as the Radical Reformation which gave rise to the Anabaptist, Moravian, and other pietistic movements." Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestantism

Henry VIII's separation from Rome

1534

King Louis XIV of France "L'etat c'est moi" ("I am the State")

1638

Treaty of Westphalia

1648

Recognition of principle of state sovereignty
- Birth of the modern state system
- Right of each Prince to determine religion of own state
- Recognition of exclusive sovereignty over own lands and people.

The American Revolution

1775 - 1783

French revolution

1789 - 1799

Rise of Germany and the USA

1870

New centres of industrial and military power.

Fall of the Ottoman Empire

1908 - 1918

World War I

1914 - 1918

Origins of World War I

  • Imperialist rivalries
  • Arms race
  • "The Eastern Question"
    • Disintegration of the Ottoman empire (emergence of Turkey, Iraq etc)
    • Disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian empire (Emergence of Balkan nationalism, Czechoslovakia, Poland).

Russian Revolution

1917 - 1918

Russian Civil War

1918 - 1920

Disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian empire

1919 - 1920

World War II

1938 - 1945

Failure of League of Nations, and 'appeasement' at Munich Conference

1938 - 1939

Vietnam War

1945 - 1968

The course of the Cold War

1947 - 1988
  • Arms race between two "superpowers"
  • Nuclear 'Standoff '(M.A.D.)
  • Competition for influence in post-colonial "third" world: two 'camps'
  • Emergence of 'non-aligned movement' (1955)
  • US failure in Vietnam and rise of China leads to 'détente'.

The Cold War declared

1947

The Cold War declared (1947):

  • Truman's policy of "containment"
    - Global opposition to Soviet expansion and/or influence
    - US sponsored regional alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO, 1949) and ANZUS (1952)

  • Zdhanov's "two camps" speech

The end of the Cold War

1988 - 1989
  • Agreement on "deep cuts" to nuclear weapons stocks (1987)
  • Reagan's visit to Moscow (1988); declared Soviets "friends of the US".

Mikhail Gorbachev and Perestroika:

  • Gorbachev's efforts to reform Soviet economy and political system
  • Eastern Bloc breaks apart, fall of Berlin Wall.

Disintegration of USSR

1989 - 1991

Followed by large economic and military decline of Russia.

USA left as "sole super-power"

Gulf War

1990 - 1991

War on Terror (ongoing)

2001 - 2012

9/11 Terrorist Attacks

2001

Global Financial Crisis

2007

Key Periods

Holy Roman Empire

962 - 1648

encompassed modern Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, parts of France and Italy

European Renaissance

1300 - 1500

'In politics the Renaissance contributed the development of the conventions of diplomacy, and in science an increased reliance on observation. Historians often argue this intellectual transformation was a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term "Renaissance man".'
- From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance

European Colonialism

1415 - 1830

Westphalian system did not deter wars of conquest of weak states "outside" the system
* European states created great colonial empires
* When non-Europeans revolted against colonialism, they appealed to the principle of "national self-determination"
* Idea of "nation-state" spread to Americas, Asia and Africa.

Westphalian System

1648 - 2100

The "Westphalian system" operated on balance of power:

'Multipolar system': Britain, France, Prussia/ Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia
Rival coalitions of great powers deterred each other
This prevented large-scale wars
This only broke down twice, but with catastrophic consequences
French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars
World War I.

Peaceful Multipolarity

1799 - 1856

"The 'Concert of Europe,' a period from after the Napoleonic Wars to the Crimean War, was an example of peaceful multipolarity (the great powers of Europe assembled regularly to discuss international and domestic issues). World War I, World War II, the Thirty Years War, the Warring States Period, the Three Kingdoms period and the tripartite division between Song Dynasty/Liao Dynasty/Jin Dynasty/Yuan Dynasty are all examples of a wartime multipolarity."
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polarity_(international_relations)#Multipolarity

The Rise of Communism

1917 - 1947

The rise of Fascism

1929 - 1945

The Great Depression

1929