26 / CHRONICLESnOPINIONSnEmpire, Again by William R. HawkinsnThe Rise and Fall of the GreatnPowers: Economic Change andnMilitary Conflict from 1500 ton2000 by Paul Kennedy, New York:nRandom House; $24.95.nYale historian Paul Kennedy’s booknhas been a great success, but unfortunatelynwith the wrong people fornthe wrong reasons. Attention has focusednon his concept of “imperial overstretch”nwhich comes about when economicnresources can no longer sustainnmilitary commitments. This heralds anstate’s fall.nLiberals love this part of Kennedy’snbook and have used it to argue that thenU.S. must withdraw from the worldnbecause it is no longer capable of doingnanything else. An excerpt was used innThe Atlantic to spearhead another author’sncall to bring American troopsnhome from Europe, and the book wasncited in the first paragraph of a majornForeign Affairs essay by David Calleonand Leonard Silk advocating majorncuts in defense spending.nIn reaction, conservatives have attemptednto disparage the book. This isna mistake, for like most histories, morenpeople will cite it than read it. It willnslip into the public mind as more proofnthat history is on the side of the leftnwhen, in fact, Kennedy is at pains tonargue just the opposite.nTo understand this, turn to the othernhalf of Kennedy’s thesis—the rise ofnthe Great Western Powers. In 1500,nEurope was inferior to Ming Chinanand Ottoman Turkey and even tonWilliam Hawkins is the economicsnconsultant to the U.S. Business andnIndustrial Council and a columnistnfor the USBIC Writer’s Syndicate.nMogul India. But China turned inwardnand stagnated. Kennedy notes that:nAccording to the Confucianncode, warfare itself was andeplorable activity and armednforces were made necessary onlynby the fear of barbarian attacksnor internal revolts. Thenmandarin’s dislike of the armynand the navy was accompaniednby suspicion of the trader. Thenaccumulation of privatencapital . . . offended the elite,nscholarly bureaucrats.nSimilarly, the economy of Mogul Indianwas retarded by the “systematic plunderingnof businessmen and entrepreneursnby tax gatherers.”nTurkey declined as well. “The janissariesnwere slow to modernize themselves”ndespite losing battles to thennewer weapons and tactics of thenEuropeans. But again the real problemnwas the failure to keep up with theneconomic growth of Europe. Thesenempires didn’t experience “imperialnoverstretch” at the start of this period.nThey were superior to their enemies.nWeakness developed later when newnpowers could bring more resources tonbear on the frontiers than the old powersncould muster to resist. This is thenreal point of Kennedy’s thesis.nKennedy is primarily a military histo­nnnrian. His subject: how nations mobilizentheir strength and defeat their enemies.nThe bulk of the book is spent examiningnhow wars were won in each timenperiod. Kennedy has made the samenpoints before in a series of essays reprintednas The Realities Behind Diplomacyn(1981) and Strategy and Diplomacyn1870-1945 (1983) and in hisn1976 book. The Rise and Fall ofnBritish Naval Mastery. He has merelynexpanded his field of view to a fullernexamination of powers beyond his nativenEngland.nThe West achieved global dominancenbecause it excelled at both warnand economics. European statesndeveloped market economies in whichn”Bankers and arms dealers and artisansnwere essential, not peripheral, membersnof society.” They were states withinnwhich “merchants and entrepreneursnwould not be consistentlyndeterred, obstructed or preyed upon”nas in the Oriental empires. Kennedy’snpraise for capitalism is matched by hisncriticism of socialism, which he equatesnwith the plunder of business practicednby earlier despotisms. He brings thenpoint home when of today’s Englandnhe writes that its “decline could intenn