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46th Annual ISA Convention - Honolulu, HI: 2005

Dynamics of World Politics: Capacity, Preferences, and Leadership

March 1st - 5th, 2005
Honolulu, HI, USA
Program Chair: Yi Feng, Claremont Graduate College

Paper Archive

Call for Proposals

Hawaii, the site of the Forty-Sixth convention of the International Studies Association, represents the symbolic and substantive centerpiece of our conference theme. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii has a history of isolation and integration, conflict and harmony. Despite its unique qualities, the Hawaiian story often encompasses key issues in world politics, such as the expansion of the United States, the power shift from Pax Britannica to Pax Americana, the Second World War, and the new focus on the Pacific Rim.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, who studied and taught in Hawaii, argued that the 19th Century was a European Century but the 21st Century would be a Pacific Century. At the confluence between the East and the West, our conference in Hawaii will offer the perfect vantage point to assess the tectonic plate shifts occurring in world politics.

The political geography of the Pacific Basin is circumscribed by Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India in the West, Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia in the South, the United States and Pacific Latin America in the East, and Russia and Canada in the North. The political dynamics of the region are framed by the rise in wealth and power of China and India, the retransformation of Russia, the economic integration of Canada, Mexico and the United States, and potential flashpoints in Afghanistan, Kashmir, the Korean Peninsula, and Taiwan.

Two major processes outside the region also are shaping the interactions in the Pacific Basin. The European Union represents the most successful historic experiment in national economic integration in terms of the number of countries and the scale of economies. It is a critical step toward the political integration of Europe. Will this become a pattern for Asia as well?

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, conflict remains the norm rather than the exception. Is this violence exportable to the Pacific Rim countries and does it pose a hazard to the peaceful development of that region? While we may be immediately focused on the continuing war in Iraq and the events in and around Israel, we cannot overlook the potential for hidden Tsunami sized events occurring in East Asia.

Great Power shifts occur because of the structural changes in the distribution of relative resources in the world. Their occurrence may be accompanied by violence or harmony, dependent upon the strategies of the status quo and challenging states. Among the constellations of variables, two emerge as the most important for power shifts: capacity and preference. While the former determines whether transitions happen or not, the latter prescribes the nature of the transition—whether it is to be violent or peaceful. Disputes are confrontations about preferences over international rules and norms. When the transition occurred between Great Britain and the United States, existing international rules and norms were preserved but that may not be the case in the future.

Capacity becomes an important predictor for future events in Asia and the Pacific Rim. Will China and India become world powers by virtue of their populations, productive and political capacity or will they be restrained by the same factors? With respect to preferences, shall we treat them as exogenously driven or endogenously evolving? Do social values and cultural ethos change? If they do, can such changes be induced and programmed? Some direct questions may include: Can the United States manage impending power shifts? Which nation or nations have the capacity for becoming the world leaders? What are the underlying factors that contribute to such capacity? Will Europe again emerge as the world’s political, military and economic leader? Will China or India take over the leadership? What effects will regional conflicts have on global leadership? Are capacity and leadership related to each other, so that an increase in one will lead to an increase in the other? Depending on the answers to these questions, Hawaii, set in the middle of the Pacific Basin, may once again be witness to new momentous changes in international politics.

The organizing theme of the 2005 Hawaiian Convention is Dynamics of World Politics: Capacity, Preferences and Leadership. In the fluid structure of world politics, capacity and preferences define leadership potential. We would like to pursue a broad view of these concepts through the lenses of political, economic, social, and demographic indicators.

Many questions are relevant to this theme: Can preferences be homogenized by economic development? If so, will economic development lead to democratization and a reduction of conflict? Is it possible for leading nations to manage the economic development of other nations, directly or indirectly, with the intent of fostering economic growth leading to a reduction of inter-state conflict?

The Hawaiian Islands are an ideal place for us to reflect upon the causes and effects of conflict and leadership change in the world. We welcome paper and panel proposals that focus on the following issues:

•   The social, political and economic sources of power shifts and transitions;

•   The effects of regional conflict on global leadership;

•   Religious, cultural and ethnic explanations for the rise of great powers;

•   Economic development and cultural changes;

•   Regional integration and globalization;

•   Regional disintegration and fragmentation;

•   The political economy of trade, foreign capital and exchange rates;

•   International law/organizations and power politics;

•   Domestic influences on international politics;

•   Concepts which link deterrence, proliferation, terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction;

•   Establishing linkages between academic studies and the policy process.

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