Some blame the violence and unrest in the Muslim world on Islam itself, arguing that the religion and its history is inherently bloody. Others blame the United States, arguing that American attempts to spread democracy by force have destabilized the region, and that these efforts are somehow radical or unique. Challenging these views, The Clash of Ideas in World Politics reveals how the Muslim world is in the throes of an ideological struggle that extends far beyond the Middle East, and how struggles like it have been a recurring feature of international relations since the dawn of the modern European state.
John Owen examines more than two hundred cases of forcible regime promotion over the past five centuries, offering the first systematic study of this common state practice. He looks at conflicts between Catholicism and Protestantism between 1520 and the 1680s; republicanism and monarchy between 1770 and 1850; and communism, fascism, and liberal democracy from 1917 until the late 1980s. He shows how regime promotion can follow regime unrest in the eventual target state or a war involving a great power, and how this can provoke elites across states to polarize according to ideology. Owen traces how conflicts arise and ultimately fade as one ideology wins favor with more elites in more countries, and he demonstrates how the struggle between secularism and Islamism in Muslim countries today reflects broader transnational trends in world history.
John M. Owen IV is associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia.
"The historical narratives Owen employs to test this theory are nuanced, illuminating, and a joy to read."--Peter Liberman, Foreign Affairs
"Owen provides the most compelling explanatory framework to date for examining forcible regime promotions, supported by a convincing historical narrative that sets the bar high for future works on the subject. More importantly, Owen's book is a welcome contribution providing a timely toolbox for both academics and policy analysts to examine the ongoing events in the Middle East and beyond."--Luca Tardelli, International Affairs
"Owen . . . makes use of formidable analytical skills to reveal patterns in 209 instances internationally and demonstrate the use of regime promotion as a strategic weapon. . . . Recommended."--Ellen J. Jenkins, Canadian Journal of History
"[T]he depth of learning that informs the historical aim of Owen's text is proof of the validity of historical work, regardless of the fact that it does not and cannot enable us to make precise predictions."--Jeff Noonan, European Legacy
"This book is a major contribution to the literature on hierarchy in international relations. It empirically demonstrates more convincingly than any other study to date that forcible regime change is a normal tool of statecraft. Owen's focus on the importance of transnational ideological polarization as the primary cause of such activity is an explanation that materialists cannot ignore."--Stephen D. Krasner, Stanford University
"This book is a major contribution to the history and theory of international relations. We were already in debt to John Owen for his excellent, nuanced analysis of the notion that democracies do not fight each other. This volume is far more ambitious and proves that--as in world politics itself--ideas and historical understanding are more important than accumulations of numbers."--Stanley Hoffmann, Harvard University
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations and Tables ix
Chapter One: Forcible Regime Promotion, Then and Now 1
Chapter Two: The Agents: Transnational Networks and Governments 31
Chapter Three: The Structures: Transnational Ideological Contests 53
Chapter Four: Church and State, 1510-1700 79
Chapter Five: Crown, Nobility, and People, 1770-1870 122
Chapter Six: Individual, Class, and State, 1910-1990 161
Chapter Seven: Mosque and State, 1923- 202
Chapter Eight: The Future of Forcible Regime Promotion 240