With the end of the Cold War, politicians and pundits spoke of a peace dividend as well as a glorious new world order. But now, the United States seems entangled in more international obligations than ever before. Does the U.S. have the resources to maintain its numerous and growing commitments? Or is it bound to suffer from "overstretch"? What choices does a nation burdened with international responsibilities have to avoid becoming over-extended? Mark R. Brawley argues-against the orthodox view-that the problem is not that policymakers fail to recognize overstretch, but that they fail to adjust to it. He details how hegemonic powers respond to overcommitment with "afterglows," maintaining leadership obligations long after such policies have ceased to be rational from a national, or domestic, perspective. Afterglow or Adjustment examines differing responses to overstretch in modern history, focusing mostly on military and economic policies in the U.S. and Britain over the past century.
Mark R. Brawley is associate professor of political science at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and is author of Turning Points: Decisions Shaping the Evolution of the International Political Economyand Liberal Leadership: Great Powers and Their Challengers in Peace and War.
1: Overextension and the Obstacles to Adjustment 2: From Ascendance to Afterglow: The Bank of England in British Hegemony 3: Afteglow Avoided?: The Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and the Breakdown of Bretton Woods 4: Institutional Innovation and Ineffective Leadership: The Bank of Amsterdam and the Stadholderate 5: Britain's Decline, Military Overcommitment, and the Committee of Imperial Defense 6: The Joint Chiefs of Staff and Military Overcommitment during American Leadership 7: The Rarity of Effective Adjustments