Imperial overstretch

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Imperial overstretch, also known as Imperial overreach, is a hypothesis which suggests that an empire can extend itself beyond its ability to maintain or expand its military and economic commitments. The idea was popularised by Yale University historian Paul Kennedy in his 1987 book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.


Paul Kennedy's view has been criticised from many directions, including the postmodern historiographer Hayden White,[1] economic historian Niall Ferguson[2] and from Marxist writers such as Perry Anderson[citation needed] and Alex Callinicos[citation needed].

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Western Journal of Communication, 56 (Fall 1992), 372-393, The Rhetoric of American Decline: Paul Kennedy, Conservatives, and the Solvency Debate, KENNETH S. ZAGACKI [1]
  2. ^ Foreign Affairs - Hegemony or Empire?