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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2000, Vol. 3 No. 1 .


Dangerous Peace: New Rivalry in World Politics
Alpo M. Rusi

Oxford: Westview Press
208pp. Index. Bibl. Pb.: 17.50; ISBN 0-8133-3496-9



Long before anyone anticipated the end of the Cold War there were those who were contemplating the variety of contradictory tendencies in the international system. Kratochwil, for example, was identifying one of the identifiable traits in the system as 'the result of the power differentials among nations and the tensions between bounded political systems and unbounded exchanges such as economic, ideological or informational transactions'. That is one of the major themes in this book in which Alpo Rusi moves from a prior interest in European matters to adopting a more dynamic approach to the lack of a global security system in the new world order. Rusi centres his remarks on the concepts of "geoeconomics" and "geopolitics" neatly encapsulated in an epigraph from Louis Pauly: ' The logic of markets is borderless, but the logic of politics remains bounded'. The tension contained within that one statement is one indication as to why we are living under an uneasy system of complex interdependence. At one end of the continuum is the United States' role in the new World Order with a foreign policy which has been described by one commentator as 'hubris and fragmentation', and a self-perception as night watchman and moral compass. At the other end are the security and geopolitical repercussions of the rise of China and a sino-centred Asia as a world power centre. Somewhere in the middle is the 'decamping of the state from the commanding heights', to quote Yergin and Stanislaw. Add to that the uncertain role of the World Trade Organisation as demonstrated so uncertainly towards the end of last year in Seattle. The author's conclusion to all of this is that we are departing the American century and leaning towards the Asian and Pacific century. Rusi handles all of this complexity with considerable sophistication, remarkable learning and great lucidity. He has worn his scholarship lightly to produce a provocative and worrying analysis. If we are to garner some comfort from all of these trends perhaps we should return to Kratochwil and his concept of "functional regimes" which, it was hoped, 'would not only downgrade the importance of national boundaries, but could, through the expansion of transboundary cooperative networks, lead to "peace in parts" '.


Paul Arthur



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