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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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4. Different patterns underlying the global interaction of powers 27

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4. Different patterns underlying the global interaction of powers 4.1. The USA: empire or hegemony? Two controversial views 4.1.1. The USA as an empire There are two notions relating to the theories of realism/(neo-)liberalism that vie with each other in the discourse on international relations: For a long time, the first of the two perceived the USA as a self-reliant global empire that divided up its surrounding territory into a secure zone and an insecure periphery, was responsible for overseeing the welfare of other nations, and acted as a non- partisan peacemaker in periods of conflict. For instance, a total of 375,000 American troops were stationed in 120 countries across the world. The US had a doctrine of preemption and an economic agenda of its own on the basis of a very large and consumer-oriented national economy, with the US dollar as valid cur- rency for the most important raw materials and goods. George W. Bush’s administration had little regard for international laws, as demonstrated by the disrespect shown to the Geneva Convention through the maintenance of secret prisons (Tagesspiegel, September 7, 2006) and a new interpretation of torture. The USA claimed the right of denying enemy states access to space (signed by Bush on the 31st of August and notified on the 6th of October 2006). How could these examples be seen as anything but the hallmarks of an American empire which laid down internationally valid law and carried it through with its overwhelming power. As...

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