October 8, 2004
In this landmark book, Robert Cooper sets out his radical new interpretation of the new international order that has emerged from the debris of communism’s collapse. He argues that there are now three types of states:
- lawless “pre-modern” states such as Somalia and Afghanistan;
- “modern” states – such as China, Brazil, and India – that straightforwardly pursue their national interests;
- and “post-modern states” such as those in the EU and Japan, that operate on the basis of openness, law, and mutual security.
The United States, Cooper argues, has yet to decide whether to embrace the “post-modern” world of interdependence, or pursue unilateralism and power politics.
In The Breaking of Nations, Cooper shows that the greatest question facing post-modern states is how they should deal with a world in which missiles and terrorists ignore borders and where Cold War alliances no longer guarantee security. He argues that when dealing with a hostile outside enemy, civilized countries need to revert to tougher methods from an earlier era – force, preemptive attack, deception – if we are to safeguard peaceful coexistence throughout the civilized world. He also advocates a doctrine of liberal imperialism that advocates that post-modern states have a right to intervene in the affairs of modern and pre-modern states if they pose a significant enough threat.
The Breaking of Nations is essential reading for a dangerous age, a cautionary tale for superpowers, and a prescient examination of international relations in the twenty-first century.
Robert Cooper is one of Britain’s most senior diplomats. A former special advisor on foreign affairs to Tony Blair, he is currently Director-General of External and Politico-Military Affairs for the Council of the European Union.