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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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11. The isolation of the USA 67

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11. The Isolation of the USA 11.1. A flawed perception What were the consequences for the structure of international relations that resulted from a weaker USA? Were the members of the US political and economic establishment capable of dealing with the rapidly deteriorating conditions? Who could help US strategists adjust to a realignment in power relations? Only the United Kingdom appeared to be still allied with the USA. Virtually all the other former friends of the USA looked to pursue, or already pursued, their own policies and merely paid lip service to the US. Asked whether at present the USA or Russia is the more dangerous of the two for international relations, Germany’s former chancellor Helmut Schmidt surprisingly pointed to the US (Zeit-Magazin Leben 47/2007, p. 62). Russia’s former President Vladimir Putin surmised that the USA only needs vassals it can boss around (Frankfurter Rundschau, December 21, 2007). Despite such conspicuously negative perceptions, the Carnegie Endowment’s neo-conservative expert, Robert Kagan, defended Bush’s unilateral course and asserted that the American President’s policies were in tune with the US’ general perception of its role in the world. In his opinion, US foreign policy was guided by two basic motives. The first was to establish the USA as a power that works for the good of the world. The second was the desire to remain the most powerful nation of the world, forever willing to bring into play its military might, even when the rest of the world is opposed to it (Die...

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