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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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8. Iran’s nuclear policy – A political ball game in US containment strategy? 49

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49 8. Iran’s nuclear policy – A political ball-game in US containment strategy? As pointed out earlier, the Bush administration could exploit Iran’s persistence on the nuclear energy front to initiate a containment policy against Russia and China. Until October 2007, many Europeans were fearful of an air-strike by Israel or the USA against Iran’s nuclear installations. Israel’s air force had already demonstrated its capability by destroying a Syrian military object near the border with Iraq; it had then proceeded to announce that its next attack could be aimed at a nuclear installation in Iran. The US Vice-president Dick Cheney had lent added weight to Israel’s impatience with Iran’s nuclear policy by holding out a similar threat, and US President George W. Bush had warned of a Third World War if Iran was not deterred from acquiring the capacity to build an atomic bomb (Frankfurter Rundschau, December 5, 2007, Tagesspiegel, October 18, 2007). But just a month later, the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) surprised the international community by stating that Iran had brought its atomic weapons programme to a halt way back in 2003 (Reuters-India, December 5, 2007). NIE’s report hit the general public world-wide like a bomb and, consequently, Bush’s warning of a direct military nuclear attack by Iran in the near future completely lost credibility. Obviously, the US secret service did not want to be the scapegoat once again. Since then, US policy has intensified its efforts to contain Iran and, with it, all the other countries that...

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