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US Hegemony

Global Ambitions and Decline- Emergence of the Interregional Asian Triangle and the Relegation of the US as a Hegemonic Power. The Reorientation of Europe

Reinhard Hildebrandt

With the end of the ‘East-West’ conflict in 1990, an entirely new constellation seemed to emerge for the first time in the history of mankind. This was perceived by the power elite in the USA as a useful challenge to lend its – until then territorially restricted – hegemony a global dimension. From the perspective of the US elites (Francis Fukuyama), a period of indefinite American control over the rest of the world, in which there would be no more scope for potential rivals to emerge, would characterize the end of history. But some years later, the USA had to accept that the dual hegemony it had built up together with the Soviet Union was fundamental to the continued existence of American hegemony. Its inability to sustain a global hegemony revealed itself in the severe setbacks it suffered in the three wars waged in Iraq, Afghanistan and against the so-called international terrorists. Undeterred by the USA’s imminent isolation, influential US experts insisted that US policies were still in line with the US’ general perception of its role in the world: firstly to work for the good of the world and, secondly, to exercise its military might even when the rest of the world opposed it. Ignored for a long time by these very experts were the emergence of the interregional Asian triangle (China, India, Russia), Europe’s reorientation and, in consequence, the USA’s relegation as a hegemonic power.

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1. Rapid change and new formation 11

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1. Rapid change and new formations The end of the ‘East-West’ conflict brought hopes of a bright future along with expectations of peace and security. The Europeans in particular were under the notion that the remaining superpower, the USA, would act as an equal among equals and resist any opportunity to build up an empire or a hegemonic structure. But contrary to this illusionary notion, successive American governments perceived the ‘Cold War’ with the Soviet Union as a real war from which they had emerged winners who - so they presumed - had earned the right to shape the world around the American model of living and American moral standards. This especially came into play after 9/11 when the unconditional war on terror was launched. Inevitably, there was a confrontation between the different concepts determining world-wide interaction among the global players: for instance, leadership understood either as behavior commensurate with an established and undisputed empire or only as characteristic of a hegemonic power, and the difference between unilateral and multilateral modes of action. Even the specific terms and definitions were debated by the academic community. The following sections shed light on the controversial term ‘hegemony’ and use a new definition to explain the latest developments in inter- national relations more exhaustively. With the Indian government pursuing a triangle strategy between India, China and Russia – a strategy that has the potential to change interplay between the global powers – an America/Europe-centered view needs to be directed at the India-China-Russia relationship in particular....

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