Recent commentary on the centenary of World War I evokes similarities between Germany then and China now, and between globalization then and now. The nature of dominant coalitions in both countries provides a conceptual anchor for understanding the links between internal and external politics in 1914 and 2014. Coalitional dynamics draw greater attention to agency in debates that all too often emphasize structure, impersonal forces, and inevitability. Two core claims rest on this basic analytical building block. First, despite apparent similarities in domestic coalitional arrangements of putative revisionist challengers—Germany and China—important differences defy facile analogies. China now is not Germany then. Second, the regional coalitional cluster and the global political economy—and hence the links between domestic and external politics—differ across the two periods. The “world-time” against which coalitions operate today is significantly different as well. Thus ahistorical analogies between then and now may not only be imperfect; they can infuse actors with misguided and perilous protocols for international behavior. There is plenty that may recall World War I today but even more that does not, and all must make sure that gap never narrows.

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