Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

What Do Politicians Really Mean by 'Global Leadership?'

| September 4, 2015

(Or: What I'd like to ask all those people who want to be president.)

It's time once again for the keep-me-on-the-edge-of-my-seat annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. So I'm off to San Francisco, where I’ll be seeing friends and colleagues and participating in a roundtable discussion of Nuno Monteiro's Theory of Unipolar Politics, along with Jim Fearon, Charles Glaser, and David Lake.

I'm going to turn to U.S. grand strategy and the 2016 election in a moment, but first let me say that Monteiro's book is a terrific piece of scholarship and well worth a careful read. I like it in part because it is very much a realist analysis, but also because it is explicitly theoretical and not just an exercise in "simplistic hypothesis testing." Monteiro presents a clear and rigorous picture of unipolarity's central characteristics: both how it is defined and how states within a unipolar system are likely to behave. His analysis is logical, closely reasoned, and well grounded in contemporary international events. It's also very well written, which all readers will appreciate....

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For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Walt, Stephen.“What Do Politicians Really Mean by 'Global Leadership?'.” Foreign Policy, September 4, 2015.

The Author

Stephen Walt