Xuetong, Yan. Leadership and The Rise and Fall of Great Power. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019. xxi + 260 pages. Paperback, $29.95..

AuthorWang, Xun

In his book, Xuetong Yan utilizes political leadership as an independent variable to explain the rise and fall of great powers in the world. He attempts to build a theory of international relations focusing on world power struggles and dominance. Practically, he tries to explore how China as a rising state, one that has significantly less material capability, to surpass US, the current dominating state, to become the new world leader in the next decade or so. Obviously, this is a very challenging job, not only for him but also for anyone who studies international relations.

The book is divided into nine chapters. In chapter one, Yan defines some important concepts including morality, power, and authority based on what he believes he can establish as his theory of moral realism. He argues that strategic credibility is the lowest level of international morality and "high strategic credibility becomes a precondition for a leading state to establish international authority."

After briefly discussing the role of political leadership, Yan spends most of chapter two discussing the differences between state leadership and international leadership. Based on different leaders' attitudes and how they fulfill responsibilities, Yan places them into four categories including inactive, conservative, proactive, and aggressive. Based on some principles of action and strategic credibility, Yan categorized four type of international leaderships as humane authority, hegemony, tyranny, and anemocracy.

In chapter 3, Yan deduces four corollaries of international change based on his definitions in previous two chapters. First, improvements and decline of state leadership

lead to changes in relative capability between states and consequently change the international configuration. Second, all states in an anarchical international system pursue their own strategical interests with different foreign policies. Third, the states take actions --including the creation of international norms to pursue self-interests. Fourth, the existing international order maybe disturbed by the inherited structural contradictions between rising states and dominant states.

Chapter 4 focuses on changes in an international configuration and shifts of the world's power center. Yan points out that it is the current leaderships of both US and China contributed to the bipolarization of the world power distribution. In addition, he argues that bipolarization does not equal to but could spark a...

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