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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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6. The India-China relationship 37

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6. The India-China relationship 6.1. Conflict-ridden geopolitical stability or conflict-avoiding strategic partnership? If in the past the Chinese leadership, for instance, responded symmetrically to India’s fears of being contained within the geo-strategic confines of South Asia, then this would mean that each power already felt threatened by its counterpole. With tactical balance a constant focus, the strategic communities in both countries would persistently search for improvements to shift the borderline between power-restricted and power-enabled freedom in a direction that is in their own favor. For a short time, the possibility of an increasingly conflict-ridden geopolitical stability between China and India appeared to be a certainty. There were some signs that indicated it could even assume a military form. Both countervailing powers did not hesitate to form partnerships with friends: India with the United States and China with Russia.15 However, China’s strategic community did not perceive India’s apprehensions as being of any relevance for their bilateral relationship; in fact it even understood India’s ambition to become an acknowledged global player of the kind China already is. The Chinese leadership invited India to enter into a strategic partnership involving friendly competition with respect to each other’s positions, to expand bilateral trade, strike compromises in their conflicts, and initiate an interregional Asian policy that relegates the other powers (Pakistan included) to the sidelines. Such thinking was widely prevalent, even on the Indian side of the conflict, with signals accordingly being sent across the border to China. The difference between a conflict-ridden geopolitical stability...

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