Twilight of the Titans: Decline and Retrenchment in World Politics


Joseph M Parent will be visiting The University of Nottingham on 11 May to give a talk on ‘Twilight of the Titans: Decline and Retrenchment in World Politics’.

There is broad scholarly consensus that the relative power of the United States is declining and that this decline will have negative consequences for international politics. This pessimism is justified by the belief that great powers have few options to deal with acute relative decline. Retrenchment is seen as a hazardous policy that demoralizes allies and encourages external predation. Faced with shrinking means, great powers are thought to have few options to stave off decline short of preventive war.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, however, retrenchment is not a relatively rare and ineffective policy instrument. A comparison of eighteen cases of acute relative decline since 1870 demonstrates that great powers frequently engage in retrenchment and that retrenchment is often effective. In addition, we find that prevailing explanations overstate the importance of democracies, bureaucracies, and interest groups in inhibiting retrenchment. In fact, the rate of decline can account for both the extent and form of retrenchment, even over short periods. These arguments have important implications for power transition theories and the rise of China.

Joe Parent is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Miami.

The event is organised jointly by the School of Politics and International Relations and the Centre for Conflict, Security and Terrorism at the University.

Attendance is free and all are welcome!

Registration is not compulsory, but it would help us to have an idea of numbers and can be done here.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply