The Challenge of Hegemony

Grand Strategy, Trade, and Domestic Politics
Steven E. Lobell
Examines the influence of the international environment on the domestic politics of great powers and the resulting effect on foreign policy


A central challenge facing any great power is choosing whether to punish or cooperate with states that are emerging powers and thus potential challengers. Complexity only increases as competition for finite domestic resources raises debates over their allocation between the twin demands of productive capacity and military security. The Challenge of Hegemony examines the role of international forces to explain domestic institutional changes and the effect of these changes on a hegemon's foreign economic and security policies.

Steven E. Lobell argues that the commercial policy of the rising states will alter the balance of political power among competing domestic coalitions in the hegemon. The strengthened coalition will use these gains to advance a foreign policy strategy that bolsters its political position. The weakened coalition will resist such policies—even if this undermines the state's economic or military interest. Lobell concludes his book with policy implications for the United States in the coming decades.

Steven E. Lobell is Associate Professor of Political Science, the University of Utah.

Praise / Awards

  • "By examining how systemic and domestic forces interact in shaping economic policy, Lobell makes an innovative and important contribution to the literature on grand strategy. The Challenge of Hegemony offers a compelling reinterpretation of key historical cases and provides wise guidance as to how the United States should wield its power today."
    —Charles A. Kupchan, Council on Foreign Relations

  • "Lobell demonstrates clearly how the international environment confronting great powers interacts with their domestic political coalitions to produce different grand strategies. Through a masterful sweep of history, Lobell shows us the alternative trajectories before the United States today."
    —David A. Lake, University of California, San Diego

  • ". . . tightly written, nicely argued and thoroughly researched to a fault. [Lobell] seems to delight in historical detail. The complexity of his approach is refreshing."
    International Affairs

  • ". . . a pleasure to read. It is both theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich. Theoretically, it makes an innovative argument that draws constructively from the subfields of comparative politics and international political economy to explain the national security behavior of leading states. . . . [A] significant work that makes an innovative and important contribution to the international relations literature on hegemonic stability and power transition theory. It is, therefore, essential reading for both scholars and graduate students. In addition, Lobell's discussion of the grand strategic policy dilemmas facing the United States in the contemporary era will be of great interest to the U.S. policy community."
    International Studies Review

  • "[A] conceptually rigorous and tightly reasoned study. . . . Lobell reminds us that power is never value neutral but organizes commercial systems in liberal or imperial terms. Even more importantly, power organizes political societies in liberal (democratic) or imperial (authoritarian) terms."
    Perspectives on Politics

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Copyright © 2003, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 256pp.
  • 2 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2005
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03080-4

Add to Cart
  • $29.95 U.S.

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