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Cosmos, chaos: finance, power and conflict

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Abstract

The article explores parallels between the fragility of globalization on the eve of the First World War, in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 1907, and today's crisis of globalization following the post-2007 recession. The fragility and interconnectedness of the international economy in both cases could provide a basis for an economic–military strategy. The temptation of using economic connectedness as a substitute for conventional and costly military strategy makes this course particularly attractive to a hegemon—the UK then, the US now—that is facing powerful competition from rising powers (Germany and the US then, China now). The challengers are likely to find their own alternative strategy, and the result breeds uncertainty. In consequence, rule-based international orders are generally strained by transitions of power, even though all the parties see the desirability and need for a common system of rules.

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