Dangerous Times?

The International Politics of Great Power Peace

Christopher J. Fettweis

"Offers interesting explanations and applications of tried-and-true concepts in international relations."
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What horrors will the twenty-first century bring? For many people, a clash of civilizations and a perilous return to great power rivalries are the dominant visions of things to come. Fueled by daily headlines, overwhelming majorities of people from all walks of life consider the world to be a far more chaotic, frightening, and ultimately more dangerous place than ever before. Christopher J. Fettweis argues that these impressions, however widespread, are wrong.

Dangerous Times? is an examination of international politics that reveals both theoretical logic and empirical data that support the vision of a future where wars between great powers are unlikely and transnational threats can be contained. Despite popular perception, today a far greater percentage of the world’s population lives in peace than at any time in history, and the number and intensity of all types of warfare have dropped steadily since the early 1990s. Terrorism, though reprehensible, can be combated and can actually increase international cooperation among states fighting a common threat. World wars like those of the twentieth century—the true clash of civilizations—are unlikely to be repeated in the close-knit world of the twenty-first century.

In this sharp and insightful book, Fettweis discusses this revolution in human history and its ramifications for international relations theory. He suggests a new vision for a more restrained U.S. grand strategy and foreign policy and reveals how, despite pessimistic perceptions to the contrary, the world is more likely entering a golden age of peace and security.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Anxiety, Danger and the Ghost of Norman Angell

Part I: Theory

1. Explaining Behavioral Change: Why Norms Evolve

2. From Opium to Obsolescence: The Norms of War

Part II: Evidence

3. On Predicting International Affairs

4. Evaluating the Crystal Balls

5. Resource Wars? The Three States of Petroleum Politics

Part III: Implications

6. Theory and Great Power Peace

7. Grand Strategy and Great Power Peace

8. Foreign Policy and Great Power Peace: Restraint in Practice

Conclusion: Angell, Honor and Proliferation of Peace




"Offers interesting explanations and applications of tried-and-true concepts in international relations."—Perspectives on Politics

"Christopher Fettweis has produced a remarkably rich book. At its core an analysis of the sources and implications of great power peace, Dangerous Times? advances the debate among competing IR paradigms, makes an important contribution to the literature on methodology and the evaluation of theory, offers interesting predictions regarding the future of the international system and the behavior of states, and articulates a persuasive vision for US grand strategy and foreign policy."—Stephen R. Rock, Vassar College


Supplemental Materials


Chosen as a 2011 Outstanding Title for Public and Secondary School Libraries by the American Association of School Librarians

About the Author

Christopher J. Fettweis is an assistant professor of political science at Tulane University. He is the author of Losing Hurts Twice as Bad: The Four Stages to Moving Beyond Iraq.

284 pp., 6 x 9
3 figures, 7 tables
ISBN: 978-1-58901-710-8
Oct 2010

284 pp., 6 x 9
3 figures, 7 tables
Oct 2010

284 pp.
3 figures, 7 tables
ISBN: 978-1-58901-686-6
Oct 2010

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