Professor Paul Kennedy speaking at Chartwell’s Breakfast Club

Looking forward to hearing Harvard-based historian Paul Kennedy at Chartwell’s Breakfast Club next week. Paul is well known for his commentary on great power struggles, and his study of the relationship between their political and economic success. “Military and naval endeavours may not always have been the raison d’être of the new nations-states, but it certainly was their most expensive and pressing activity” he argues in his best selling book ‘The Rise and Fall of Great Powers from 1500 to 2000‘ (Random House, 1987). A nation’s relative power is the product of its ability to project effective military power, and generate the economic wealth it needs to to pay for it. Military overstretch, as we see now in the US which has been at war for over a decade, is a mark of relative decline. “The triumph of any one Great Power in this period (1500 – 2000), or the collapse of another, has usually been the consequence of lengthy fighting by its armed forces; but it has also been the consequences of the more or less efficient utilization of the state’s productive economic resources in wartime, and, further in the background, of the way in which that state’s economy had been rising or falling, relative to the other leading nations, in the decades preceding the actual conflict. For that reason, how a Great Power’s position steadily alters in peacetime is as important to this study as how it fights in wartime.

 

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