Inter-war Period in Theoretical Perspective


Realist Take

-        League system no substitute for balance-of-power dynamics

o     relying on League reduces effective balancing

-         US ‘buck-passes’

-        German rise inadequately challenged


Liberal Take

-        Leage is insufficiently empowered

o     No means to enforce ‘collective security’

-        Domestic politics produces isolationist (US) and expansionist (Germany, Japan) and appeasing (UK, France) states

o     Economic cooperation fails

o     Arms control not adequately pursued

-        Liberal v. autocratic divide (US, UK, France) v. (Germany, Italy, Japan, USSR)

o     Liberal states fail to ally with USSR


Constructivist Take

-        absence of sufficient collective identity (Cf. Concert period)

o     no consensus on norms & principles

o     norms & principles exploited by Germany

o     balance-of-power v. collective security principles compete

-        ideologically shaped  identities shape policies