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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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2. A new theoretical approach 13

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2. A new theoretical approach 2.1. Introduction Keeping in mind that we do not have direct access to reality, and that we rely on the large number of discourses at hand, hegemony primarily raises the question about the mechanism that makes hegemony feasible before we enter the sphere of real politics and the behavior of states. Usually, awareness of new aspects in relations between nations and regions leads to an evaluation of existing theories. In scholarly discourse, the new phenomenon results in a new term which will thereafter be included among the already existing set of approaches which may, for instance, encompass the following: collective security, complex interdependence, globalization, global governance, informal hegemony, trans-nationalism, two-world order, terrorism etc. With respect to its applicability to perceivable phenomena, each clear-cut model has to show the limits of its validity and exclude the area beyond these limits as a less defined or even non-defined entity, which is partly or completely to be ignored but which may, nevertheless, have an as yet unknown impact on the validity of the model. 2.2. The difference between empire and hegemony In the relationship of global powers the model of empire rules out a hegemonic world order and the latter dismisses a global interplay of equal powers. For Stephen Rosen an “empire is the rule exercised by one nation over others both to regulate their external behavior and to ensure minimally acceptable forms of internal behavior within the subordinate states” (Rosen, Stephen Peter, 2003”, “An Empire, If You...

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