Current events happening around the world, especially the ’humanitarian interventions’ by NATO and the West within the context of the so-called Arab Spring, make the understanding of the role of spheres of influence in international politics absolutely critical. Hast explores the practical implications and applications of this theory, challenging the concept by using historical examples such as suzerainty and colonialism, as well as the emergence of a hierarchical international order. This study further connects the English School tradition, post-war international order, the Cold War and images of Russia with the concept of the sphere of influence to initiate debate and provide a fresh outlook on a concept which has little recent attention.
’Susanna Hast’s outstanding study, written in the English School tradition, reminds us of the continuing vitality of spheres of influence discourse in spite of its relative neglect by international relations theorists nowadays. Her insightful analysis succeeds admirably in disentangling a complex of ideas while remaining fully attentive to their historical evolution. In one stroke she has resurrected what appeared to be a dead and buried topic.’ Robert Jackson, Professor Emeritus, Boston University, USA ’This is a timely and much needed intervention in international theorising. Against a disturbingly unchallenged common sense, Susanna Hast has elegantly brought to life the forgotten intellectual history of the concept and practice of spheres of influences in international relations and, at the same time, rightly argued that its normative core may still be very much relevant for the future of world order.’ Fabio Petito, University of Sussex, UK