This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Please check back later for the full article.
Emerging powers are usually referred to as states whose material capacities and status-seeking strategies may potentially have an impact on the international system and may also affect the dominant position of the hegemonic powers therein. The rising of new powers is a recurrent phenomenon in international relations. When talking about new emerging powers, scholars associate the words with the so called BRICS states: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The emergence of BRICS states, especially China, poses the question of whether their rising process is a peaceful one. Realism, institutionalism, and constructivism have all dealt with the possible systemic impacts of the BRICS states. BRICS seem to be reformist rather than disruptive, meaning that they are pushing for the better representation of their self-perceived new status in multilateral institutions rather than challenging the current system per se. In terms of foreign policy, BRICS states interact with well-established powers such as the United States and European states—herein they display hard-balancing, soft-balancing, or band-wagon strategies, also toward each other. Moreover, well-established powers either accommodate or contest the rising process and status claims of these emerging powers. In fact, the United States tends to accommodate and altercast the rise of China—which has reassured the system that it is a peaceful riser and a great responsible power. However, BRICS are also regional powers. Regional peers contest the rising process of BRICS states, particularly their claims to global powerhood. BRICS as regional leaders sometimes lack regional followers; such followership is rather selective, and depends on the issue area at stake and whether the matter is regional or international in nature.
BRICS unfold their foreign policies within multilateral regional and international institutions, which are not only arenas of foreign policy for emerging powers but are also the outcomes thereof. Some emerging powers have launched regional cooperation schemes to deal with local security challenges. While BRICS can be seen as striving for the reform of multilateral institutions, the traditional view of BRICS as a homogenous force, and with similar interests, is sometimes misleading. Even though BRICS states have their own forum and institution with a new bank, they pursue different interests within traditional institutions, and their positions vary according to the issue of governance being negotiated. Therefore, the existing literature on BRICS is tilted toward systemic and institutional concerns—allowing little room for agency-driven approaches beyond the state as a unitary actor. Although works taking into consideration the first and second levels of analysis (people and state) in foreign policy analysis do exist, they are not necessarily related to emerging processes. People, leaders, and governmental institutions are decision makers or are part of the decision-making process in foreign policy; thus, they form perceptions and act according to how the rising process of the state is unfolding. An integration of the systemic, state, and personal levels captures the essence of the foreign policies of BRICS states in the context of rising, and can take into consideration the ups and downs and stalemates of rising process trajectories in international politics.
Even the most critical observers of the creation of the euro found some nice words on the occasion of its 10th anniversary. And yet it needed only a marginal event like the announcement of the newly elected Greek government that the previously stated public debt ratio was gravely miscalculated to move the euro into a critical crisis zone. Swiftly the attention of private credit markets turned to more member states of the eurozone, only to eventually detect that financial stability of banks did not meet sustainability indicators.
What is often labeled as “eurozone crisis” is better understood by a political-economic forensic analysis that rather speaks of eurozone crises. First, the causes for financial and then sovereign debt crises of Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland (to name only the most prominent) differ fundamentally. They were triggered by the same events but caused by differing factors. Second, it is a crisis of economic governance, and thus an institutional crisis that needs fundamental institutional changes. Third, it is a crisis of political leadership.
The overlapping character as well as the interplay of those three dimensions hampers a proper understanding of the dynamics of the processes that started in 2010. By differentiating between national crisis causes, triggering mechanisms, policy responses, and multi-level crises management, we suggest a comprehensive analytical framework that may guide current as well as future research in the operating of an incomplete currency union.
On the one hand, the idea of a capitalist peace is a set of loosely integrated, but testable propositions. On the other hand it is part of a wider, libertarian philosophy of life. The spirit of this wider conception is best expressed by a quote from a pioneer of quantitative international politics, in 1981 Rummel wrote, “If you want peace, then minimize the power of government.” Although there has been a proliferation of variables assessing capitalism and economic interdependence—from economic freedom via contract intensity to the avoidance of state ownership or protectionism—the most frequently analyzed proposition about the capitalist peace says that trade makes military conflict and war less likely. By and large, the evidence supports this proposition in dyadic designs as well as in monadic designs. This cross-design validity of the proposition is important, because it distinguishes the peace by trade proposition from the democratic peace proposition. Most researchers agree that war is extremely unlikely in dyads where both nations are democracies. But only a minority contends that democracies are less frequently involved in military conflict than other states. The dyadic and the monadic findings are compatible because military conflict looks even more likely between an autocracy and a democracy than between two autocracies. Whereas the democratic peace is limited in application, the pacifying impact of trade or economic interdependence is more general. Moreover, the democratic peace may be embedded in a wider economic or capitalist peace. There is strong evidence that democracy rests on a foundation of capitalism or economic freedom and the prosperity that has been gained only by capitalism or some degree of economic freedom. Moreover, economic freedom and prosperity contribute to the avoidance of civil war. Better still: Economic freedom does not only promote economic growth and prosperity among those nations where people enjoy economic freedom, but the economic freedom of rich countries provides poor countries with the advantages of backwardness and catch-up opportunities.
Capitalist peace theory evolves. It has been suggested that the pacifying impact of trade rests on the expectation that trade, or access to resources and markets, will continue. This suggestion requires a new look at economic sanctions, too. By interfering with trade, sanctions must undermine the expectation of future benefits of trade and globally interconnected markets. Given the rareness of evidence in favor of the effectiveness of economic sanctions in eliminating undesirable policies of other nations, a capitalist peace perspective implies the recommendation to use sanctions much less frequently than politicians do. They are likely to eliminate a pacifying factor when it is most urgently needed.
The wider or visionary perspective on the capitalist peace is useful not only in connecting it with the issue of sanctions, but also in demonstrating the inherent limitations of capitalism as a tool to achieve peace. From a static perspective, capitalism, economic freedom, or trade may exert some pacifying impact, as argued above. But capitalism is a dynamic economic order. It is about “creative destruction”. Capitalism is not egalitarian. Nations grow at different speeds. They rise and decline. Capitalism and unequal economic growth upset pecking orders and contribute to power transitions that are related to risks of war, especially great power war. Whether the contribution of capitalism to power transitions—or its pacifying impact prevails—cannot be judged with much confidence.